Astros: Top 10 non-prospects that surprised with big impacts
By James Wehr
9. Willy Taveras
When you mention the name Willy Taveras, it’s hard not to laugh at the unfair speed he had. Debuting as a defensive replacement in 2004, Taveras had his first cup of coffee with an Astros team that was overflowing with outfield talent. This was also the year that the majority of Astros fans hate Carlos Beltran for.
After being signed out of the Dominican Republic, Taveras was merely known for just his speed and not much else. Never once cracking the MLB Top 100 prospects.
Once Beltran bounced out of Houston for the bigger city of New York, this opened the door for the speedy Taveras to capture the center field role. And capture it he did. Posting a .291 average, Taveras would cause pitchers and catchers headaches as he would constantly bunt to get on base.
It truly was unfair to watch him toy with fielders. Upon bunting the ball, if the ball hit the ground, he was already on first base. Helping the Astros reach their first ever World Series appearance, Taveras finished the postseason with a .357 average.
His 2005 season showed the potential he had as a lead-off hitter and table-setter, amassing 85 runs and 34 stolen bases.
2006 was more of the same, collecting 147 hits, 83 runs, and 34 stolen bases, equating to a .278 average, and a .672 OPS. He was starting to show consistency, which the Astros needed at the time for a leadoff hitter. Not to mention the 30 game…30 GAME….hit streak he had that year. That put him in the same conversation as players like Albert Pujols, Sandy Alomar Jr, and NOMA Garciaparra (said in a
sexy Boston accent).
However, players caught on to his bunting ways. Making him more predictable to defend against.
The Astros had plans to remedy this, as they had their prized prospect, Hunter Pence, waiting in the wings and acquiring Carlos Lee in the 2007 offseason. This lead to Taveras to becoming expendable.
He would go on to Colorado and finish out his career over the next three seasons.
However, fans will never forget the impact he made for the Astros during the hay day of playoff baseball in the mid-2000s. During his tenure, the Flash had a .284 average, 68 stolen bases, 319 hits, and 167 runs.