Houston Astros: Best Offensive 2B Seasons Through the Decades
By Tony Watson
Who has been the best second baseman in each decade for the Houston Astros?
In our journey to look at the best offensive seasons by Houston Astros players, by decade, we started with shortstop, then moved to third base. Now we go around the horn to second base and see how some of your favorite Astros second basemen compare throughout their history.
The Astros have been blessed with some significant tenure by several individuals at the second base position and some All-Star performers. Names like Joe Morgan, Tommy Helms, Bill Doran, Jeff Kent, Jose Altuve, and of course, Hall of Famer Craig Biggio have all left a significant mark in Astros’ history for their time at the pivot position.
In seeking to decide the most outstanding offensive season by a second baseman in each decade, there were more close calls than there were at either third base or shortstop. Here are the results of my study and then I’ll give some comments regarding these close calls.
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We have a few firsts here. First of all, we have our first experience of having a player have the best offensive season in multiple decades. Morgan became the Astros’ starting second baseman in 1965 and held the position through the 1971 season. He, of course, was dealt to Cincinnati in that now-infamous multi-player trade that brought Helms to Houston to replace Morgan at second base.
We also have the first instance of a player nearly being the only starting second base for an entire decade with Biggio. Biggio began the 1992 season as the Astros’ second baseman after making the transition from a catcher and held the position through the 2007 season, except 2003-04 when he moved to the outfield to make way for Kent.
Kent was only in Houston for two years but put up the highest-ever totals in HR and RBI by an Astros’ second baseman. The HR total could be eclipsed by Altuve this year.
There were some close calls. Nellie Fox was only in Houston for a brief time, but his 1964 season was worthy of consideration in comparison to Morgan’s 1965. His 20 sacrifice bunts was a standout statistic – and important for that time for a middle infielder.
Morgan returned to Houston as a free agent for the 1980 season and had a season that was a worthy comparison to Doran’s 1985 season, with 11 HR and 49 RBI to go along with a .740 OPS and 3.6 WAR.
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The closest calls, however, were in the 1990’s and the 2000’s, and for entirely different reasons. In the 1990’s, it was a virtual tie between Biggio’s 1997 and 1998 seasons. His .415 OBP in 1997 just jumps off of the page, and when combined with the power numbers, it’s easy to see why Biggio was perhaps the best all-around player in Houston Astros history to date.
In the 2000’s, it was a virtual tie between Biggio’s 2001 season and Jeff Kent’s 2004, but in the end, Kent’s unique power numbers were too strong.
Before it’s all said and done, Altuve’s numbers will likely rival those of Biggio’s and Kent’s. He already is having his best season regarding power and is on pace to have a career high in batting average.
Who are some of your favorite Astros’ second baseman through the years? Is anyone missing here that is worthy of mention?
***Stats from Baseball-Reference***