Several players remain Astros Hall of Fame candidates

CHICAGO - MAY 31: Pitcher Billy Wagner #13 of the Houston Astros throws a pitch during the MLB game against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois on May 31, 2002. The Astros defeated the Cubs 4-1. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
CHICAGO - MAY 31: Pitcher Billy Wagner #13 of the Houston Astros throws a pitch during the MLB game against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois on May 31, 2002. The Astros defeated the Cubs 4-1. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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28 Jul 1999: Mike Hampton #10 of the Houston Astros pitches the ball during a game against the Colorado Rockies at the Coors Field in Denver, Colorado. The Astros defeated the Rockies 16-8. Mandatory Credit: Brian Bahr /Allsport
28 Jul 1999: Mike Hampton #10 of the Houston Astros pitches the ball during a game against the Colorado Rockies at the Coors Field in Denver, Colorado. The Astros defeated the Rockies 16-8. Mandatory Credit: Brian Bahr /Allsport /

Billy Wagner

No Hall of Fame would be complete without the undisputed greatest relief pitcher in club history. Wagner is the franchise leader in saves (225) and is second in WHIP among qualified pitchers, trailing only Verlander.

He was a three-time All Star with the Astros and finished fourth in the Cy Young Award voting in 1999. His 124 strikeouts that season are the most in club history by a relief pitcher. The 44 saves he posted in 2003 are also a franchise record (tied with Jose Valverde).

There’s a case to be made that Wagner belongs in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. He was one of the three best relief pitchers in the game for a long time and finished his career with 422 saves. He also struck out more than 12 batters per nine innings with the Astros and allowed fewer than six hits per nine. In short, he was as dominant as they come.

Darryl Kile

Admittedly, this may be a sentimental choice, but the Astros saw fit to honor Kile with the “DK” patch on the left field facade at Minute Maid Park following his untimely death in 2002. Still, it’s not as though Kile didn’t have a significant impact on the club during his time in Houston.

The right-hander was a two-time All Star in an Astros uniform, winning 71 games across seven seasons. He had his best season in 1997, winning 19 games with a 2.57 ERA, finishing fifth in the Cy Young voting.

It’s true that Kile isn’t among the franchise leaders in any of the main pitching categories, only coming in at No. 10 in strikeouts. But he was a beloved teammate and did have some good years in Houston, and would be a worthy addition to the Astros Hall of Fame.

Mike Hampton

Hampton wasn’t the longest-tenured Astros pitcher, but the southpaw was a key piece of the late ’90s division winning teams. In five seasons as a full-time starter from 1995-1999, he won 67 games, never posting an ERA higher than 3.83.

His 1999 season was one for the ages. His numbers in the wins (22) and winning percentage in a full season (.846) categories are still the best in franchise history, and he finished second in the Cy Young voting that year after being voted to the All-Star team.

He also won the NL Silver Slugger award that year, slashing .311/.373/.432 with 10 RBIs in 88 plate appearances. Hampton was a complete player and one of the keys to the Astros winning three division titles in the late 1990s.

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