Astros’ All-Time Best Seasons: Managers
1972: Harry Walker and Leo Durocher
Oct 9, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; General aerial view of the downtown Houston skyline and the Toyota Center and Minute Maid Park before the NFL game between the Indianapolis Colts against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Houston Astros baseball had never seen a winning season, and the newness was starting to wear off. Things changed in 1972, and despite a multi-manager year we have to honor the first winning season in Houston at 84-69. We do not hang 1972 up in the championship rafters, but we should celebrate the first success this organization had. Under Harry Walker the Astros compiled a 67-54 record and found themselves in third place on August 26th. Hall of Famer Leo Durocher took over the Astros managing duties for the final 31 games and went 17-15.
The Astros fell short of a playoff spot by 10 1/2 games to the Cincinnati Reds, but claimed second place in the National League West. The Astros attack was a collective effort in ’72 with plenty of solid on-base contributors. Jim Wynn and Lee May were the boppers on this unit, cracking 24 and 29 home runs respectively.
However no good lineup can operate without a legitimate top of the order. Cesar Cedeno had a 22 home runs, 82 rbi and a .921 OPS season at the leadoff position. In today’s game he would have been an instant MVP candidate when you factor in the 55 stolen bases and elite defensive abilities. Don Wilson lead the pitching staff with a 2.68 ERA and a whopping 13 complete games. When you look at this roster, it is hard to imagine they did not win more games with these numbers!
The team could not continue to progress in the following years and regressed in 1973 to a 82-80 record. This was the last year of Leo Durocher, and the Astros would wait till the next decade for a playoff birth. The team’s first winning season regardless of split managers, is something these guys should have been extremely proud of during their time.
Next: 2001: Larry Dierker