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