#24 Top Hitter
Rusty Staub by Eric Huysman
Rusty Staub is the primary example of how much a player can be affected playing half their games at the Astrodome/Colt Stadium. He signed an amateur free agent in 1961 by the Colt-45’s. Staub made his debut in 1963 while the team was still playing at Colt Stadium. I wasn’t alive at the time, but from what I understand, it was a mosquito hotbed outdoor stadium that was not the best place to play at.
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In Staub’s third season with the Astros, Staub got some consideration for league MVP, finishing as high as 16th after moving into the Astrodome. While the Astrodome was hard to homer in, there were plenty of openings in the defense with the vast playing surface. This environment may have helped and hurt Staub a lot in his career because he never hit more that 14 homers as an Astro, but his home run numbers soared after leaving Houston to play in Montreal. His lifetime Astros batting average was .273 but was as high as .333 in 1967.
In 1967, Staub also played in his first of his two All-Star games as an Astro. Despite only hitting ten homers in 1967, he did hit 44 doubles and drove in 74 runs. He was traded to the Expos who were an expansion team, and Staub went to the Expos and because the power hitter that he couldn’t be in Houston. He played six of his 23 seasons with Houston Colt-45s and Astros. Looking at his stats from his final four seasons, he looks like a player that tried to stick around too long, but they didn’t get paid what they get paid now.
Looking at Staub’s stats, you can appreciate what Jeff Bagwell was able to do as an Astro. Staub hit 57 of his 292 homers with the Astros. Imagine if some more of those 44 doubles in 1967 were hit somewhere else, he would have hit a lot more home runs. Speed was never his game, but he was a line drive hitter who turned into a home run hitter.
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