#21 Top Hitter
Denny Walling by Cody Poage
Known mainly for his pinch-hitting prowess, Denny “Good Wood” Walling established himself as one of the Astros best bats off the bench throughout his tenure. In fact, his 13.0 WAR in an Astros uniform is good for 23rd overall in franchise history. He originally came over to Houston via Oakland before the 1977 season and began as a part-time outfielder and pinch hitter. He would later move to first and third base while remaining a pinch-hitting specialist for the Astros before his departure to the St. Louis Cardinals in 1988.
Walling had his best season in 1986 when he slashed .312/.367/.479 to go with 13 HR and 58 RBI in a career-high 130 games. That season saw Walling post by far his best WAR (3.9) and best wRC+ (137) when he played at least 100 games. Even though he would soon move on to the Cardinals for pitcher Bob Forsch not too long afterward, he left a mark in Houston as one of the team’s constants during the Astros first sustained runs of success in 1980 and 1986.
And don’t forget his key at-bat in the 1980 NLCS against the Philadelphia Phillies when he managed to get a sacrifice fly to lead the Astros to a walk-off win in Game 3.
For his career, Walling did most of his damage against right-handers as he managed to hit .276 against right-handed pitching while hitting only .236 against left-handers. In fact, he had 2,572 at-bats against right-handers while accumulating 373 at-bats against lefties. Now that is a noticeable split in batting statistics! Between his contributions over a long period and delivering in the clutch moments, Walling earned his place as one of the Astros top 25 hitters.
Next: 20th All-Time Astros Hitter