All this Derek Jeter hullabaloo has made me want to look back at some of the greatest Astros who played their entire major league careers with Houston. I’ll look at the two best hitters and pitchers.
Jeff Bagwell: Houston’s all-time leader in average, homeruns, RBI, and BBs. A career .297/.408/.540 hitter with 449 homeruns, 1,529 RBI, 1,517 Runs, and 202 SBs. Bagwell also has a Rookie of the Year and MVP award under his belt. Bagwell also spent the 2010 season as the Astros’ hitting coach. If you asked anyone to picture the quintessential Astro, many would say Jeff Bagwell. Anyone who didn’t, would say Craig Biggio.
Craig Biggio: Houston’s career leader in games played, at-bats, runs, hits, doubles, and total bases. Biggio is almost guaranteed to be a first ballot Hall-of-Famer. Biggio’s 3,060 hits is good for 20th all-time and he’s still the only player to play at least 130 games in a season at Catcher, 2B, and Outfield. He also won 4 Gold Gloves. But not all Astros have been as lucky to have long and prosperous careers in Houston. J.R. Richard is one guy who had his cut way too short.
J.R. Richard: Richard spent all or part of 10 seasons with Houston from 1971 to 1980. Over that time, he went 107-71 with a 3.15 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, and 8.4 K/9. Richard was one of the best pitchers in baseball from 1974 until his career was cut-short by a stroke in 1980. Over those 4 and a half seasons, he won 84 games, had a 2.79 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, and 121 ERA+. Richard led the NL in ERA and strikeouts in 1979 and when he collapsed while playing catch before a 1980 game, Richard had 10 wins, a 1.90 ERA and an ERA+ of 174. Losing the ace was a huge blow to the Astros. Unfortunately, Houston fans knew all to well how to handle such a tragedy as just six years earlier they lost another great pitcher; Don Wilson.
Don Wilson: I wrote about Wilson briefly in September. Wilson died in 1974 of Carbon Monoxide poisoning after he was found in his garage where he had left his car running. His death was ruled an accident. Wilson played all 9 of his seasons with Houston and like J.R. Richard, posted an ERA of 3.15. He would fall just short of Richards’ win total however, with 104. Wilson’s best season came in 1974 when he led the league in H/9 with 6.5 and also posted career bests in wins (16), ERA (2.45), and WHIP (1.02).