1972: Doug Rader
The 1972 Houston Astros, led by Jimmy Wynn, Don Wilson, and Cesar Cedeno, posted an 84-69 record and a 2nd place finish in the NL West. New manager Leo Durocher gave the Astros a spark, finishing with a winning record after a few years staying around .500.
Also, a new power surge emerged in Houston after the Astrodome’s fences were shortened during the offseason. Doug Rader, the Astros’ third baseman that season, was no exception to the group of Astros who benefitted from the shortened fences. Here are Rader’s 1972 stats from Baseball Reference:
- .237 BA (13th among 3B in MLB)
- .425 SLG (4th among 3B in MLB)
- 70 runs scored (2nd among 3B in MLB)
- 131 hits (6th among 3B in MLB)
- 24 doubles (T-4th among 3B in MLB)
- 7 triples (1st among 3B in MLB)
- 22 HR (2nd among 3B in MLB)
- 90 RBI (1st among 3B in MLB)
- Only took 1 day off! (Played in 152 of 153 games)
- NL Gold Glove Award Winner at 3B
One can definitely argue that Doug Rader benefitted the most out of any 1972 Astro from the shortened fences. Rader was almost a completely different player in ’72, finishing with 10 more HR, 34 more RBI, and a slugging percentage .47 points higher.
Any way you slice it, Doug Rader had a career year for the Houston Astros in 1972. While drastically improving his offensive output, Rader was able to continue his exemplary defensive play at third base and only missed 1 game during the whole season. Heck, if I was having a year like that, I would want to play a double header every day!
Next: 2005: Morgan Ensberg