Best Astros of every decade

Ok, this one should bring up some debate. This is one person’s opinion based on a couple hours research of who the best Astro pitcher and position player of each decade has been. And to cut off the kind of debate of what constitutes a decade (like when the end of the millennium was) 2010 thru 2019 would be a decade.

1960’s

Best Position Player. Jimmy Wynn

Again, we just sadly lost Jimmy Wynn.

https://chipalatta.com/2020/03/27/the-toy-cannon-has-gone-silent/

Really there is no one very close to him in stats during the decade, because he was about the only big talent that did not get traded. Between 1963 and 1969 he compiled the following stats:

Wynn – .259 BA/ .361 OBP/ .820 OPS/ 502 runs/ 137 Dbls/ 145 HRs/ 441 RBIs/ 115 SBs

As a comparison Joe Morgan between 1963-69

Morgan – .264 BA/ .379 OBP/ .773 OPS/ 342 runs/ 81 Dbls/ 40 HRs/ 170 RBIs/ 113 SBs

It was a different ERA hitting-wise, and seeing how well hitters did elsewhere – Morgan, Rusty Staub, John Mayberry and Wynn – the Astrodome was Death Valley for offenses

Best Pitcher. Larry Dierker

Dierker excelled as a pitcher, manager and broadcaster for the team. But starting off as a teenager, between 1964-69 he put up the following numbers:

Dierker – 55W – 50L, 3.00 ERA, 43 complete games, 7 shutouts, 1.149 WHIP, 980.2 IP

The late Don Wilson was probably just a half step behind Dierker. Between 1966-69

Wilson – 40W – 37L, 3.39 ERA, 29 CG, 7 shutouts, 1.251 WHIP, 623.2 IP

The Astrodome helped the pitchers like it hurt the hitters, but these two guys were hard throwing, tough pitchers throughout the 1960’s.

1970’s

Best Position Player. Cesar Cedeno 

Cesar Cedeno was one of the most talented players to ever play for the Astros, a true 5 tool player, who between injuries and terrible off-field problems lost his way. But between 1970-79 he was the Astros best position player.

Cedeno – .289 BA/ .349 OBP/ .807 OPS/ 777 runs/ 292 Dbls/ 148 HRs/ 671 RBIs/ 427 SBs

A couple other Astros were good during the decade – Jose Cruz (’75-79) and Bob Watson (’70-79).

Watson – .298 BA/ .365 OBP/ .815 OPS/ 623 runs/ 231 Dbls/ 136 HRs/ 769 RBIs/ 20 SBs

Cruz – .296 BA/ .370 OBP/ .807 OPS/ 332 runs/ 134 Dbls/ 49 HRs/ 352 RBIs/ 151 SBs

Cedeno was a terrific talent, who could do anything on the ball field and was the best everyday player for the Astros.

Best Pitcher. J.R. Richard

Strange how tragedy came down on so many of the very good Astros early on – Don Wilson (suicide), Cesar Cedeno (guilty of involuntary manslaughter) and J.R. Richard (stroke) during their careers. Richard was one of the most fearsome and intimidating pitchers on the mound. Between 1971-79 he put up the following numbers:

Richard – 97W – 67L, 3.24 ERA, 72 Complete games, 15 shutouts, 1.268 WHIP, 1492 IP

The pitcher who was closest to Richard was Joe Niekro:

Niekro – 58W-45L, 3.27 ERA, 31 complete games, 9 shutouts, 1.279 WHIP, 853 IP

In 1980, the Astros fell just one win short of the World Series. Would having JR, who was 10-4 with a 1.90 ERA when he went down with the stroke have made the difference? We will never know.

1980’s

Best Positon Player – Jose Cruz

Jose would have better numbers if his numbers were not split between two decades. But the man, who the fans would serenade with “CRUUUUUUUZZZ” hit pretty darned well for some light hitting teams between 1980-87.

Cruz – .290 BA/ .358 OBP/ .778 OPS/ 539 runs/ 201 Dbls/ 89 HRs/ 590 RBIs/ 137 SBs

There are a number of players, who could be runner-up here like Glenn Davis and Terry Puhl, but number two here is Bill Doran (’82-89).

Doran – .265 BA/ .350 OBP/ .721 OPS/ 562 runs/ 159 Dbls/ 63 HRs/ 372 RBIs/ 173 SBs

Jose Cruz was probably considered Mr. Astro for the time he played and coached with them until the Killer B’s showed up.

Best Pitcher – Tie – Mike Scott and Nolan Ryan

Both of these pitchers in their own ways performed superbly for the Astros. Scott (’83-89) mixed in the nasty split finger with the rest of his stuff and Ryan (’80-88) developed a curve ball that was almost unhittable with his fastball.

Scott – 101W – 66L, 3.19 ERA, 38 complete games, 19 shutouts, 1.122 WHIP, 1491.1 IP

Ryan – 106W – 94L, 3.13 ERA, 38 complete games, 13 shutouts, 1.206 WHIP, 1854.2 IP

These two pitchers were consistently at the top, with Joe Niekro a step behind during the 1980’s.

1990’s

Best Position Player – Jeff Bagwell

One of the two all-Astro Hall of Famers, Bagwell led the team throughout the 1990’s with a great combination of power and hitting for average, sneaky speed and was one of the best fielding right handed first basemen. Between 1991-99 he produced:

Bagwell – .304 BA/.416 OBP/.961 OPS/ 921 runs/ 314 Dbls/ 263 HRs/ 961 RBIs/ 158 SBs

His partner in the Hall – Craig Biggio (’90-99) would have won any of the previous decades, but not this one (or the next one).

Biggio – .297 BA/ .386 OBP/ .827 OPS/ 1042 runs/ 362 Dbls/ 136 HRs/ 641 RBIs/ 319 SBs

The Astros had the twin terrors during this decade and part of the next.

Best Pitcher – Mike Hampton

The 1990’s was not the prime time for Astros pitching as many folks came and went (Doug Drabek, Greg Swindell, Pete Harnisch and others). Darryl Kile (’91-97) and Shane Reynolds (’92-99) had solid portions to the decade.  The bulldog Mike Hampton (’94-99), one of the best hitting pitchers since Babe Ruth, had the best decade of any of their pitchers.

Hampton – 69W-40L, 3.40 ERA, 13 complete games, 6 shutouts, 1.350 WHIP, 1026 IPs.

Reynolds edged out Kile for the next best decade among 1990’s pitchers

Reynolds – 79W-61L, 3.70 ERA, 17 complete games, 7 shutouts, 1.256 WHIP, 1234.2 IPs

The quality and length of service did not match the best pitchers of the previous decades, but Hampton was a good starter for them in the second half of the decade.

2000’s

Best Position Player – Lance Berkman

Both Bagwell and Biggio had some good seasons in this decade, but the shiny new star was the Big Puma, Lance Berkman (’00-09).

Berkman – .300 BA/ .413 OBP/ .972 OPS/ 959 runs/ 357 Dbls/ 309 HRs/ 1026 RBIs/ 74 SBs

In the 2000’s, Craig Biggio (’00-07) was again the second best position player….

Biggio – .266 BA/. 338OBP/ .766 OPS/ 724 runs/ 279 Dbls/ 139 HRs/ 469 RBIs/ 68 SBs

This decade saw the Astros finally win a playoff series and get to a World Series. If only Berkman’s prime had come on top of Biggio and Bagwell’s…..

Best Pitcher – Roy Oswalt

There may not have been a better clutch pitcher than Roy Oswalt (’00-09). If only….he had been able to start the 2005 WS instead of having to finish off the Cards after the Pujols home run, the Astros might have been the champs that season.

Oswalt – 137W – 70L, 3.23 ERA, 18 complete games, 6 shutouts, 1.202 WHIP, 1803.1 IP

There could be arguments that Roger Clemens (’04-06) was the best pitcher for the decade, but it was only 3 seasons. (And I will be a hypocrite when we talk about pitchers in the 2010’s). And Clemens did not pitch full seasons. He was great when he did pitch.

Clemens – 38W-18L, 2.40 ERA, 1 complete game, 0 shutouts, 1.074 WHIP, 539 IP

Roy O, was the Wizard of Os and the best pitcher in the 2000’s for the team

2010’s

Best Position Player – Jose Altuve

The Astros, especially in the second half of the decade had some fine players including George Springer, Carlos Correa, and Alex Bregman. But dynamite comes in small packages and Jose Altuve (’11-19) was their best position player of the decade.

Altuve – .315 BA/ .364 OBP/ .827 OPS/ 734 runs/ 299 Dbls/ 128 HRs/ 538 RBIs/ 254 SBs

He combined that great hand-eye coordination with speed and some power. George Springer (’14-19), who had 3 less seasons was right behind him.

Springer – .270 BA/ .361 OBP/ .849 OPS/ 530 runs/ 131 Dbls/ 160 HRs/ 426 RBIs/ 47 SBs

The Astros youthful position players led the mid-decade surge of the whole team and no one did more than Jose Altuve.

Best Pitcher – Justin Verlander

Yes, he only pitched 3 seasons (OK- 2 seasons and a month) for the Astros, like Clemens did, but Justin Verlander (’17-19) impacted this team and led them to one WS championship (the heck with the scandal) and within an eyelash of a second one.

Verlander – 42W – 15L, 2.45 ERA, 3 complete games, 2 shutouts, 0.837 WHIP, 471 IP

The second best could be Gerrit Cole, but I’m not going there. Instead it goes to Dallas Keuchel (’12-19) who led the team out of the depths of hell and was a big part of their WS run.

Keuchel – 76W – 63 L, 3.66 ERA, 12 complete games, 4 shutouts, 1.250 WHIP, 1189.1 IP

So, there you have it.

  • Do you agree with who was picked above?
  • Who would you sub in or move around?
  • Who do you think will be the best of the 2020’s?

33 comments on “Best Astros of every decade

  1. Good Friday to everyone – it is such an unusual Holy Week – I’m usually singing with the choir some time on the weekend – but not this year
    I hope everyone has a blessed weekend

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Hey Dan……most of us are just trying to figure out how to survive and get around all the changes that have become our new normal. I agree with all your work…..I was lucky enough to meet a lot of the guys in the 70’s, because I used to charter them when they were in the NL East. Almost had a fist fight between one of my first class passengers and Cedeno. Close call,but I calmed every one down! I also really thought Sambito was awesome, before we called him a closer!
    I have a question: If no baseball this year, think Crane would extend Verlander one more year? That would be the cool thing to do, don’t you think?!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Becky. I know that everyone is trying to survive – just reaching out a little bit.
      As far as extending JV, that is one of those “it takes two to tangle” questions. Both sides have to be interested in it.
      I’m trying to be positive. I have to believe there will be a return to normalcy for us all to survive.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Spot on. I used my memory to check your list and found it lacking. I then went to the stat sheets and found it was my memory that was lacking.

    My memory had Turk Farrell in there And Fred Gladding who lead the league in saves one year. And Doug “The Red Rooster” Rader. And a few others. But some did match up due to splits on the decades. Most did not have nearly as good a “Houston career” as your list. Also, in those early years, Loel Passe probably slanted my memory.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Agree 100% with you Dan. The “best” wasn’t alway my favorites but can’t argue with the stats.
    As for the last question, if it’s not Altuve, then we ain’t seen him yet.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. For the 2020’s, I hope it is another tie between Altuve and Bregman. In his 9 years, Jose now has 1568 hits. If he can have close to his totals for next 10 years, he can make 3,000. But he won’t if he is hurt and misses time again and loses this year.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m thinking that Bregman or Alvarez (if he can get his knee problems under control) could be the 2020’s. I would love someone like Abreu to step up and be the man from the pitching side.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. You have your picks. I have mine.
    60′ pitcher of the decade-Jack Lamabe. FIP was way worse than his ERA, which is saying something.
    60’s player of the decade-Bob Lillis, with a 54 wRC+ and a -0.4 WAR in over 2000 plate appearances

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, Bob Lillis, later an Astros manager made Roger Metzger look like a Bronx bomber in comparison.
      Jack Lamabe? Wasn’t he the exercise guru who used to swim towing row boats in his teeth???

      Like

      • Jack LaLanne really created the modern workout mindset – he made it cool to watch some guy do jumping jacks on your TV and it must have worked because he lived to 96 years old. He was a bad a$$….

        Liked by 1 person

  8. 70’s Pitcher of the Decade-Floyd Bannister. What a Draft that was!
    70’s Player of the Decade- Skip Jutze. It took the Astros 4 seasons to figure out just how good Skip was. He had a 39 wRC+ with the Astros and -2.7 WAR.
    This competition is very intense.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. 80’s Pitcher of the Decade- Gordie Pladson. The Astros had good pitching in the 80’s, but Gordon was the best.
    80’s Player of the Decade-Buddy Biancalana. I have never seen stats like this.
    Buddy had a -72 wRC+ for the Astros in 1987.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. 90’s Pitcher of the Decade. Oh my gosh! By far the easiest picks in Astros history. Mitch Williams! This guy was amazing.
    90’s Player of the Decade- Phil Nevin. Let’s draft this guy #1 and let the Yankees have Derek Jeter. This is the only pick so far that I didn’t have to check the stats.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nevin is an interesting deal. #1 overall – he ended up with a decent career, though the best of it was years after the Astros gave up on him after a Kyle Tucker (circa 2018) start to his career.
      Where would have the Astros gone, especially in that mid-90’s to mid-00’s period with Jeter in the middle of all that other talent?
      Of course Drayton might have managed to screw it up by not paying him

      Like

  11. Before I take a self-quarantine nap I want to name my:
    2000-2009 Pitcher of the Decade- Shawn Chacon. His performance on the field was just as good as his performance off the field. Jason Jennings gave Shawn a run for the money.
    2000-2009 Player of the Decade-Preston Wilson. Preston had the least WAR of any Astros player of this decade. His WAR was lower than any pitcher’s batting WAR of the decade. In his one season he was a negative baserunner, a terrible hitter and a worse fielder.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I’m so excited I can’t sleep.
    My 2010-2019 Pitcher of the Decade had to be really something to beat out the likes of Brady Aiken, Phillip Humber, Travis Blackley and Francis Martes. He was! The trophy goes to Mark Appel.
    Last and least, My 2010-2019 Player of the Decade needs an introduction. Drafted four picks before Mike Trout, my hero is SS of the future, Jio Mier.
    You have to be special to beat out Jon Singleton for this cherished award.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Under What If: What would be your choice for the 70’s using 1975 at the “What if” season. 1st John Mayberry -OPS+168, 2nd Joe Morgan – OPS+169 (League MVP), SS Metger dWAR 2.0, 3rd Red Rooster WAR 0.7 (’75 Down Year), Catcher Jerry Grote WAR 3.2, Outfield Cesar Cedeno, Bob Watson, and Jose Cruz. Pitchers Dierk, JR Richards, Joe Niekro, Ken Forsch or maybe Jerry Reuss who won 18 for the Pirates in ’75.

    The 1975 MVP voting: AL – 2nd John Mayberry, NL – 1st Joe Morgan, 14th Rusty Staub, 20th Bob Watson (Hou), and 23d Jerry Reuss.

    (I have complained about Luhow, but he has no trades as bad as these. )

    Liked by 1 person

    • In determining my picks, I noticed Mayberry’s numbers for the Astros and they were really, really bad. But, Jutze was in a league of his own.

      Like

    • Grote was a good back stop. In 1969 when the Mets shocked everyone by winning the WS, Grote allowed 31 steals. He threw out 40. Of course he had quite a good young pitching staff led by Seaver and Koosman, but we sure don’t see those caught stealing numbers in this day and age. Guys must have been slow back then!

      Like

  14. Happy Easter, everyone!
    After big storms last night, this morning is beautiful.
    Grandkids brought fresh eggs from the chicken house to our front porch and Mrs. 1op is making breakfast!
    Have a blessed day.

    Like

  15. Since the sarcasm void has already been filled, I’ll go a different direction and reiterate that I think if Bill Doran’s career had started about five years later he would have put up offensive numbers to rival any of the second basemen of the time (had he been inclined to go that route). He was a really complete player. Another switch-hitter from the 80’s who I think was underappreciated was Kevin Bass. If we’re going down that woulda-coulda-shoulda rabbit hole, imagine he lays off those breaking pitches from Orosco and forces him to throw a meatball over the plate. A hit in that situation probably puts him over the top in your decade award.

    Also, I can’t believe Ryan’s numbers were so close to Mike Scott’s for that time period. My recollection was that Ryan had one year where he led the league in ERA but couldn’t get any wins, had another year where he should have been in CY contention, and the others were fairly mediocre years. It probably speaks more to the quality of the teams surrounding him and how much we valued the wrong stats during that time frame than anything else.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Devin – there were always debates about Nolan Ryan for his whole career. His W-L never matched the expectations from his ERA. Some observations from a quick glance at his career numbers.
      – He was never a great fielder – his career fielding % under 90% and I think he gave up more than the average unearned runs. I think his style of lots of long counts – walks – strikeouts – probably meant that the fielders behind him were not always as sharp as they would be with someone who pitched to more contact.
      – Gave up a ton of walks – often at the top in the majors, especially early in his career
      – Almost always gave up steals higher than the league average due to leg kick and time to the plate
      – Often pitched for poor hitting clubs. He had 616 decisions in his career and lost 292 of them. But he was 43-200 in games where his team scored between 0 and 2 runs (that was almost 1/2 of his starts).
      – He was a Jekyll and Hyde pitcher. In his 324 wins he had a 1.45 ERA. In his 292 losses he had a 5.60 ERA.

      Like

    • I feel like he was always under rated – Billy Doran was a plain old good ball player playing good D and hitting from both sides of the plate

      Like

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