Houston Astros’ Mount Rushmores

This is always a ridiculous proposition for any team. How do you pick four folks from an organization and honor them with a place on Mount Rushmore from what is 50 to 100+ seasons depending on the organization? So, we are going to try to make this it a little easier by imagining that there are multiple Mount Rushmores to populate from the 58 seasons of Astros’ baseball. This will still be tough, but not as tough as it could have been…

The Mount Rushmore of Astros’ Pitchers

The Astros have had some terrific pitchers over the years. But Dan P’s pick for the top four are:

  • Justin Verlander. 42-15, 2.45 ERA, 1 Cy Young, 1 no-hitter, 2 All-Star games for the Astros. Helped carry them to a WS title, a WS appearance and an ALCS appearance.
  • Nolan Ryan. 106-94, 3.13 ERA, a no-hitter, two ERA titles and 2 All-Star games and Hall of Famer no matter which hat he wore into the Hall. Helped lead the team to their first three postseason appearances in history. And of course the first million dollar a year player.
  • Mike Scott. 110-81, 3.30 ERA, 1 Cy Young, 1 no-hitter, one ERA title, 3 All-Star games. Was brilliant in their 1986 run to the playoffs including the playoff-clinching no-hitter and two outstanding wins in the NLCS.
  • Roy Oswalt. 143-82, 3.24, ROY runner-up, 3-time All-Star, one ERA title. (Threw the first inning of a 6 pitcher combined no-hitter). Was the ace for three playoff runs and won the game to put them into the 2005 World Series.

Other folks that who were up there for consideration included Larry Dierker, Joe Niekro, J.R. Richard, Don Wilson, Shane Reynolds and Billy Wagner. There is an argument for each and every one of them.

The Mount Rushmore of Astros’ Position Players.

This is a lot easier category to choose for the Astros. Fifteen years from now, some of the current crop of Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez, George Springer and Carlos Correa could be in the conversation.

  • Jeff Bagwell. .297 BA/.408 OBP/ .948 OPS/ 1517 runs/ 449 HRs/ 1529 RBIs – Hall of Famer, Rookie of the Year, MVP, 4 time All Star. In his 15 years as an Astro was a team leader for 6 playoff runs.
  • Craig Biggio. .283 BA/ .363 OBP/ .796 OPS/ 3060 hits/ 1844 runs/ 291 HRs/ 1175 RBIs – Hall of Famer, 7 time All Star. In his 20 years he was a team leader for the same 6 playoff runs that Bagwell was.
  • Lance Berkman. .296 BA/ .410 OBP/ .959 OPS/ 1008 Runs/ 326 HRs/ 1090 RBIs – 5 time All Star, 6 times on the MVP ballot. In his 12 seasons with the Astros he was part of 4 playoff runs including their first playoff series wins and was their best playoff hitter.
  • Jose Altuve. .315 BA/ .364 OBP/ .827 OPS/ 734 runs/ 128 HRs/ 538 RBIs – 1 MVP, 6 time All Star, 3 time batting champ. In his 9 seasons, he led the teams from the depths of despair to 4 playoff runs, two WS including one title and hit the walk off ALCS clinching HR in 2019.

Other players who certainly had good to very good careers for the Astros include Jose Cruz, Cesar Cedeno, Jimmy Wynn, Bob Watson and Moises Alou.

The Mount Rushmore of Astros’ Non-Players.

This would have looked much differently a year ago, but at least on this version of the mountain Jim Crane, Jeff Luhnow and A.J. Hinch do not have a spot.

  • Judge Roy Hofheinz. He was the visionary, the Walt Disney of the Houston Colt 45s/Astros heading the team that brought major league baseball to Houston and spearheading the much needed and first of its kind Astrodome.
  • Gerry Hunsicker. The Astros suffered a playoff drought after their 1986 loss to the Mets. During Hunsicker’s run as GM (1995-2004) the team had 9 out of 10 seasons with winning records, 5 playoff runs and frankly the 2005 World Series appearance was due to his team building.
  • Larry Dierker. Dierker came oh so close to being part of the pitching Mount Rushmore. As a non-player, he was a very good broadcaster and then a terrific regular season manager going 435-348 in 5 seasons despite having no managerial experience when he took over. They went to the playoffs 4 times in his 5 seasons (only failing in the 2000 shift to Enron Field) but lost all 4 playoff series, which led to his firing.
  • Brent Strom. The Astros pitching coach since 2014, it could easily be said that he had a key role in the Astros renaissance as a team over the last 1/2 decade. Under his tutelage pitchers who had no or little previous success found their footing in the major leagues (Dallas Keuchel, Collin McHugh, Charlie Morton, and others). And pitchers like Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander rose to new heights with Strom leading the pitching staff.

Other potential granite faces could include Drayton McLane, Phil Garner, Bill Virdon, Jim Hickey, Tal Smith and even… John McMullen (bought them from the bankruptcy banks).

So, if the Astros had three mountains out there for pitchers, position players and non-players….who would you put on them?

32 comments on “Houston Astros’ Mount Rushmores

  1. Dan, I would add one combo in place of Brent Strom. Indeed, he has had a huge impact on the pitching, I would agree. But Gene Elston and Loel Passe were the faces — and VOICES — of the Astros for a generation. You can’t speak of Houston from 1962-1986 and leave out Elston. Too many memories. In my book, he deserves one of the four spots on that mountain!

    Liked by 3 people

      • I would have to vote for Loel Passe. We knew that he “exaggerated” on most calls. You just have to hear one long, long drive to the base of the centerfield wall being caught by the shortstop to know he used a lot of “literary license.”

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Before we leave Willie Mays, an old note. He had 1 hit in his first 7 games. After two weeks, he was hitting below .200. We saw something similar with Bregman (3 weeks) and let’s hope, with Tucker. So some great players start off poorly.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Joe Niekro beats out Verlander. This is an Astros Mt Rushmore, not a torrid two year affair. Check back with me when the final figures are in. Right now, the guy with the most victories in Astros history has to be up there. Niekro had 85 complete games as an Astro, more CGs than Verlander has starts.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I can certainly see leaving JV off due to how short his stay has been.
    I can’t put Luhnow on this list right now. Same with Hinch. Maybe time and distance will change my mind.

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      • Yep and in my mind separate from the cheating scandal – not saying this is logical – this is an emotional reaction to Luhnow and Hinch allowing my jot to be sullied and hijacked

        Liked by 1 person

      • Did you watch The Last Dance? I don’t know how much was unfair to Jerry Krauss, but I’m not willing to give him or Luhnow too much credit for their championships. He inherited Altuve and Springer. He loses credit on Bregman because it was his missed draft of Aikin that made it possible. He also picked Appel instead of Bryant because he (well, both were actually) got greedy. He does get credit for Verlander, but ultimately the Gomez/Fiers trade and possibly the Kazmir one push things not in his favor.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Devin, I do not believe Luhnow missed on Aiken. It is my opinion that Luhnow was deceived as to Aiken’s health. The first time Aiken got on the mound after the awful ordeal of his draft, he had to be removed from the game and was operated on the very next day.
        Nobody will ever convince me that he didn’t know he was hurt. If he had said anything his draft stock would have plummeted.
        The Astros pulled out of their deal with him the moment they saw his medicals but could not say anything publicly about his health and he and his family and his agent tore into Luhnow and the Astros because they knew how bad his elbow was and the Astros couldn’t say anything in their defense because of the law. Coming out of the Aiken/Close farce with Alex Bregman was not only redemption, but brilliance.

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      • I agree with you that the Astros and Luhnow handled the situation as well as could be done after Aiken declined their offer, but I still maintain they made the wrong initial choice and it was 90% or more due to not wanting to pay Carlos Rodon’s signing demands.

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  5. One of my kids and his family are at the lake with what must be 15 people this weekend. Of course, we stayed at home.
    But another of our kids, whose family has been very, very careful for months called us and invited us to go on a picnic to a tourist site in the mountains and eat a picnic lunch bought from a drive thru at a restaurant.
    When we got there, the restaurant was so packed with people that they would not answer their phone and my daughter had to go inside and turn in our lunch order. She was the only person in the restaurant with a mask on and the only person who was social distancing. People did allow her to do that and no one complained. It took her 20 minutes in a line to place our order, and 30 minutes later we picked it up at the take out window.
    We ate at a picnic table where there were many people waiting to get into the restaurant.
    There were at least two hundred people at the barbeque restaurant and the RV park was packed. My wife found a place in the woods to go to the bathroom. We had a great time just being out. We then went to our sightseeing destination, which was a drive thru animal refuge. The line of cars to get in had a one hour wait. Admission was $17 a person. We turned around and drove into the Arbuckle Mountains sightseeing from the highway and then went home.
    I saw more cars and more people in a four hour drive than I had seen in the last 3 months. If it is like this everywhere, we will quarantine for several months, because, at this point, not one person out there cares if they transfer the virus to us. They are done worrying about themselves and us.
    I don’t blame them. It’s a jungle out there and old Tarzan and old Jane are going to stay up in the trees.

    Liked by 2 people

    • We went to my mom’s in Tomball. Called Goodson’s (good comfort food) and picked up our food up 20 minutes later. The workers had their masks- a few people were eating in – no mob scene. Food was nicely packed and yummy.
      Spent time playing Scrabble with my mom, worrying about a stray cat that keeps showing up and played Trouble with my brother who has Down’s Syndrome. Watched some TV and headed home.

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  6. For the Pitchers, I would put in J.R. Richard over Verlander. J.R. was my favorite Astro when I was a kid, but looking at his stats I would have thought his K’s per 9 would have been higher. I guess back then hitters were more contact oriented and did more bunting.

    Agree with the Position Players.

    As for the Non-Players, Judge Roy was before my time but agree with the others.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Just for clarification, DanP is using the MLB Hall of Fame Rules. (Pete Rose is banned). 1OP and others are using NFL Hall of Fame Rules. (O J is OK with them). So it falls under Chip and DanP – My Post My Rules. That should clear up where Luhnow lands – which is on top of Mt St Helens and not Mt Rushmore.

    Liked by 1 person

    • And some might question “The Judge” for the same reason. He was quite a visionary and infighter. Got Harris County to pay for the stadium then took over operational rights. When he opened Astroworld, he scalped the #2 man in most departments at Six Flags Over Texas. Used them one year and then fired them all after learning what they knew. And he may still be suing Erie County (Buffalo) New York on that dome stadium.

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    • I don’t see any clarification in your comment.
      I don’t see any rules posted.
      What I do see is that Dan asked who we would put on our Mt. Rushmore.
      I don’t see what anything I post has to do with NFL HOF or MLB HOF.
      This is all about our personal Astros Mt Rushmores. I agree with most of Dan’s picks and substituted my own ideas for the one’s I wanted differently and I actually gave reasons for doing so.
      Happy holiday.

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  8. My only rules are to be civil and treat everyone as you wish to be treated. Oh and I am always right….
    Let’s face it – I want to have other views – that is the fun of it.

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  9. These are my rules! Biggio and Bagwell get their mugs up on Rushmore for obvious reasons.
    The other spaces will remain blank for now. Altuve is almost an automatic, but he has to wait. I hope I’m around long enough to see what Bregman does and how he does it. I want HOF guys that played most, if not all of their careers as Houston Astros. I love Nolan Ryan. Verlander helped us win the World Series. J.R Richard was a favorite. I wish Billy Wagner had played his whole career with the Astros. If Roy and Lance and shown more longevity and stayed home, they would be considerations. But they did not so they are not.

    God Bless our great country today and thanks to all of you that served it!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. It is Memorial Day. Millions of people around the world and in our country would usually be at sporting events and spending lots and lots of money there on this day.
    Instead, they have tons of money to spend at beaches and lakes and bars and restaurants and museums, movies, hotels, boat, canoe and rv rentals.
    This country is stretching it’s muscles and spending it’s money today.
    Today is a day to remember our heroes, visit with friends, go to the graves of our families and have fun doing anything they want within reason. Tomorrow is the day to go to work, and stay away from elderly people who have to be protected from the results of this holiday weekend.

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    • That list is perhaps the biggest argument against using WAR as a meaningful metric to compare players that I can think of. My reasoning is that for multiple players it talks about this player or that player led the league in WAR and all I can think about is how their statistics didn’t really help their teams win very many games.

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  11. I didn’t actually give my choices. I agree with daveb that tenure with the Astros should be a large factor in this decision. Larry Dierker is a no-brainer, choice in my opinion. The only question would be whether to use his more youthful days for the bust or choose his more distinguished look from the days on the bench. I think Craig Biggio would be my second choice. A first round pick who played his entire career here and made the actual HOF is tough to top. After that it gets really tough.

    Mike Scott didn’t have his breakout year until he was 30! I imagine those early years with the Mets stunted his growth. Truthfully, I don’t know when he started throwing the split finger, but he’s another one of those what-if guys in my mind. Clemens and Pettite were both mercenaries. I appreciate their contributions. Randy Johnson could have been our first Verlander. That short stint as an Astros pitcher sure was exciting. I sure enjoyed watching the Yankees lose, but it hurt a bit watching Johnson, Schilling (who I don’t like), and good guy Luis Gonzalez winning a title wearing purple pin striped pajamas. Jeff Bagwell was my favorite play for the entirety of his career. I wish it had ended differently. While the numbers are there to make a case for him, I don’t think two players from a non-championship stretch makes sense. Biggio has been a fixture in Houston for over thirty years and continues to be an active presence in the community. Bagwell makes occasional appearances.

    Roy Oswalt probably should have won another 20-30 games in his career here. There were a lot of leads lost in the 6th and 7th innings either by a tiring Oswalt or the bullpen. My memory is fuzzy here, but I feel like if not for Cardinals and their PED usage the Astros and Oswalt from reaching and winning a few WS. Regardless, he should have won at least once in Philadelphia.

    Even though Nolan Ryan threw so many innings in NY, Anaheim, and some other city in Texas, I’d probably pick him as my third face. His involvement with the franchise after his playing career and as part of the front office that won the championship in 2017 is meaningful and this is all make believe anyhow.

    I’d suggest either Cesar Cedeno or Jimmy Wynn for the fourth spot. I know the eye popping stats aren’t there for either, but they played in a different era and inside the Dome. Both were legends. Today I’d take Wynn. Tomorrow I might have a different opinon.

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  12. Biggio Bagwell Ryan Berkman

    Roy O
    Billy the Kid

    Altuve on deck to replace Ryan.
    Love the idea of Dierker, but he’s more of my sentimental, rather than Should-Be Hall of Famers RUSHMORE approach.

    Like

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