Astros’ All-Time Best Seasons: Catcher

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Aug 16, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; General view of the exterior of NRG Stadium (left) and Houston Astrodome before the NFL game between the Atlanta Falcons against the Houston Texans. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

1966: John Bateman

In 1966, in only their second season as the “Houston Astros”, the franchise finally got over the 70-win mark (72-90). The team had players like franchise legend Jimmy Wynn in CF and Hall of Famer Joe Morgan at 2B. On the mound, Houston icon Larry Dierker was pitching in his second full season. And behind the dish was a man people rarely talk about today: John Bateman.

John Bateman was signed by the Colt .45’s in 1962 and made his first appearance in 1963. During his first 3 seasons, he struggled mightily, batting .202/.250/.331 with 22 total HRs. But everything came together for him in 1966, in 121 games behind the plate (from Baseball Reference):

  • .279 BA/.315 OBP/.467 SLG/.781 OPS
  • 121 hits
  • 39 runs
  • 24 doubles
  • 3 triples
  • 17 HRs
  • 70 RBI
  • 20 walks
  • 2.3 WAR

That season was Bateman’s best. He set career marks in doubles, HRs, RBIs, batting average, OBP, SLG, OPS, and WAR. He also holds the franchise record for Most Homeruns by a Catcher in a Season with 16 (as reported by the Astros).

John Bateman would play two more seasons for Houston before getting drafted by the Montreal Expos in the 1968 Expansion Draft.

Did you know?: John Bateman passed away back in 1996. However, a man named Ken Webster was a huge fan of Bateman’s, and has started a Twitter account in the player’s name.

Next: 1977: Joe Ferguson