Last week I submitted my list of all-time favorite Astros position players. I appreciate the feedback, and some of you correctly pointed out that I omitted several of Houston’s greatest. That is true. Let me remind you that the criterion for admission to my list is simply: I enjoyed watching them play. There is absolutely nothing scientific about it. No sabremetrics, no statistical evidence of any kind is used in the compilation of this list. It is totally subjective. Which makes it more fun!
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Without any more stalling on my part, here is my Favorite Astros Team Ever – The Pitchers.
Nolan Ryan. How could he not be on the list? I first saw him pitch in person when he played for the Angels, against the A’s in Oakland. He lost 3-1 to Ken Holtzman when Joe Rudi stuck his bat in the way of a Ryan fastball and it landed over the left field wall. Nobody was as surprised as Joe Rudi, as evidenced from the ear-to-ear grin on his face all the way around the bases.
Shane Reynolds. To me, he is underrated as a pitcher, and seems to be seldom mentioned with other Astros pitching greats. I enjoyed watching him work on the hitters, and he always seemed to have a plan on how he wanted to pitch to each one. Not that stats matter, but he was 3-1 with 1 no decision as an Opening Day starter.
Roger Clemens. Any time Clemens was on the mound, I made sure my son was with me in front of the television to watch how he set up batters. We got to the point where we could predict about 60% of the time what he was going to throw, a little less often where he would spot it. Each outing was a clinic on how to pitch. Also, I like that he pitched inside. I like my pitchers with a touch of mean.
J.R. Richard. Just a man among boys. He was gifted with such physical tools! The only time I watched him pitch was on the Saturday Game of the Week, since we lived in Arkansas and too far away to see him in person. J.R. was another whose career was way too short.
Larry Dierker. I am a fan of Hawaiian shirts and winning games. He won games as both a player and manager, and is a legend. And, he was 4-0 in Opening Day starts.
Joe Sambito. While he was a pretty good relief pitcher, my fondness of Sambito goes back to the neighborhood whiffle ball games. As we took turns pitching, I liked being him so much that I introduced myself as, “Now on the mound, Joooooe Sam-BEEEEE-tooooooo! That name was money.
Jose Valverde. Papa Grande. Anybody that gets nailed in the head with a line drive, then gets up and finishes the game? He’s making the list, guys.
Octavio Dotel. Such a free motion on the mound, and a rising fastball that somehow rose enough to catch the corner of the plate at the knees of the hitter. Me like.
Billy Wagner. I don’t know if it was the camera angle or what, but the dude’s shoulders looked about 5 feet wide. I would want to neither hit off the guy nor catch him. He was all about the cheese – the high, stinkin’ cheddar.
Brad Lidge. Light’s Out. I wanted him on the list for one main reason other than his performance on the field. In his prime in Houston he was indeed, Light’s Out. But when he began to struggle, I found myself as aggravated as any other fan that he got Lit Up too often. But the way he handled himself personally and in the media was all class. He didn’t blame his teammates, and he didn’t make excuses. He just kept going out there every time he was asked. Like Hunter Pence last week, I was happy that he got his World Series ring with the Phillies. Classy guys deserve success, too.
You will notice that there are no recent-year relievers on the list. Surely I don’t have to explain why. Nor are there any of the recent crop of starters. I just haven’t seen enough of them yet to bump my other guys.
So, what say you? Who is on your list? Mike Scott? Roy O? State your case!