#25 Top Hitter
Phil Garner by Eric Huysman
With a nickname like ‘Scrap-iron,’ it doesn’t scream power hitter, but he had some seasons with double-digit homers in his seven-year career with the Astros. He played 17 years in the big leagues making the All-Star game three times, none of them with Houston. He got his nickname by how gritty a player he was, always getting dirty like Biggio was known for in his career. Most of his career he was a speedy guy who would steal some bases and finds a way to get on base with a career .323 OBP.
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The max home runs that Garner ever hit in a season was 17 with the Pirates in 1977. Garner made the All-Star game three times, but he may have been selected by the fans based on his reputation because his 1980-81 stats are not representative of an All-Star player. 1981 was the season that Garner was traded to the Astros on August 31st. The Astros needed a second baseman and Garners’ stock was falling. The way Garner played made him a fan favorite in Houston, which could have been why his performance picked up after the trade.
Garner played second base, third base, and shortstop in his time with the Astros, with second base being his most frequent position. He is the player that Jonathan Villar was supposed to be. In his first full season with the Astros hitting .274/ 13 homers/ 83 RBI/ 24 steals. For his career with the Astros, Garner hit .260/ 49 homers/ 320 RBI/ 68 steals.
With his departure in the 1987 season at the trade deadline, opened the door for Biggio for the following season, even though Biggio was still a catcher at that point. Why he wasn’t a power hitter, he used his determination to get on base and score runs.
He followed up his playing career by managing the Milwaukee Brewers (1992-1999), Detroit Tigers, (2000 -2002), and the Astros (2004-2007).
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