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.
Best Position Player. Jimmy Wynn
Again, we just sadly lost Jimmy Wynn.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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?