The Best of the Best series continue today with a conundrum of sorts. Enjoy the conversation and debate, but please remember to not just ahead. Here are the best we’ve already discussed:
Today: Second base.
Yes, I know that Jose Altuve just won an MVP. Yes, I am aware that he has a few batting titles under his belt. Yes, I’ve also been told that he’s led the league in hits four times and is quickly becoming the face of the Astros’ organization after a World Series win.
Yes, I know that Biggio never won a World Series, had 200 hits only once, was an All Star seven times (Altuve only 5). I also know he has a few points on his resume that Altuve does not, namely 3,000 hits and a place in the Hall of Fame.
Altuve has had better seasons, even in his shorter career. He has a better eye at the plate than Biggio (and that’s saying a lot). And he can challenge Biggio in the eyes of fans and with that infectious smile.
And, yes, you can argue that Altuve will one day ascend to the perch as the greatest second baseman in Astros’ history. But, today, in a snapshot in time in January 2018, that place goes to Biggio.
And, I thought at one point in time, Houston would never see a better second baseman than Bill Doran.
Here’s my list of the best second basemen in Astros’ history.
- Craig Biggio. 1988-2007. He’s in the top 3 on most every important stat list, good or bad, in Astros’ history. He’s played in more games (2,850), had more at bats (10,876), scored more runs (1,844), had more hits (3,060), doubles (668), total bases (4,711), strikeouts (1,753), extra base hits (1,014), singles (2,046) and, of course, HBP (265) than any other player in history. He’s second in RBI, walks and stolen bases. Quite the resume, warranting his top spot as the best all-time second baseman (to date) in Astros’ history.
- Jose Altuve. 2011-present. Yes, Altuve is beginning to crash Biggio’s party with his All Star selections, hit parade and batting titles. But if he retired or was traded today, he would still be #2 all time. If you want to compare Biggio’s first six seasons with Altuve’s first six, yes, Altuve is clearly in control. If he maintains or evens comes close to spending 12-15 seasons in the majors, he’ll surpass Biggio at his current pace. The next question is this: How would you rate Altuve vs. Biggio if he is traded or leaves as a free agent in a few years?
- Joe Morgan. 1963-71. Most people don’t realize that Morgan actually spent more time in a Houston uniform (10) than that of any other team, including the Reds. And, he actually played more games at second than has Altuve (thus far). Now, imagine if Morgan had played most of and finished his career in Houston. What a discussion this might have been then! You may be surprised to learn that Morgan is actually on many of the top 10 lists of all-time Astros’ offensive leaders, including runs scored (597, 10th), triples (63, 2nd), OBP (.374, 6th), walks (678, 6th) and stolen bases (219, 5th).
- Bill Doran. 1982-1990. Doran was the prototype second baseman: tough, hard-playing and turning in dirty jersies regularly. He didn’t win an MVP and played in the Ryan Sandberg era so there were no All Star appearances. He was obviously very serviceable, but doesn’t rank with three hall of fame second basemen.
- Jeff Kent. 2003-04. Yes, Kent spent only two seasons in Houston, but he had a big impact. And, yes, he forced Biggio into the outfield for a couple of seasons. While he spent only two seasons in an Astros’ uni, he did hit 49 home runs with 200 RBI while slashing .293/.350/.521 with an .880 OPS. You can argue that another player more aptly fits here and I’ll let you make that argument.
- Did you realize Morgan had those numbers in Houston?
- Is Altuve already the best second baseman in Astros’ history?
- Should Morgan actually be ahead of Altuve at this point since he played more games at 2B in Houston?
- What makes Biggio better than Altuve? Or vice versa?