1986: Hal Lanier
Jul 27, 2014; Cooperstown, NY, USA; Hall of Fame playerNolan Ryan
responds to being introduced during the class of 2014 national baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony at National Baseball Hall of Fame. Mandatory Credit: Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports
Who could forget the year of 1986? Well I guess I could because I was not born yet. However I am an Astros historian and I realize how big of a year the ’86 season was. Manager Hal Lanier lead the Astros to a 96-68 record to capture the team’s second NL West title. The Astros appeared to have the magic working that year as Mike Scott pitched a no-no to get the team into postseason play.
The offense was not the most powerful the Astros have ever seen, but one of the more pesky. Kevin Bass, Billy Hatcher, and Bill Doran all stole more than 20 bases. Doran lead the pack with 42. The power guys were slim with Glenn Davis leading the team in both home runs (31) and rbi (101). The team would depend on scoring enough runs to support their elite pitching staff. When I say elite, boy was it good! The Astros front four of Mike Scott, Bob Knepper, Nolan Ryan, and Jim Deshaies all posted seasons with sub 3.50 era’s. Mike Scott’s season would be considered one of the greatest seasons ever pitched by an Astro and his 275 innings of work is ridiculous to imagine. With that workload Scott won 18 games on a 2.22 era.
Hal Lanier certainly had life made easy with the pitching staff, but lets give the guy some credit. In the 80’s making the playoffs is not what it is now. To qualify for a position a team would need to win in the mid 90’s some years just for a hopeful shot! Winning 96 games and finding a way to play into the strength of this offense was absolutely key. Like many Astros seasons it was an unfortunate ending in postseason play in which the Astros fell in six games to those lousy Mets.
Next: 2005: Phil Garner