In this installment of the Players You Forgot Were Astros series, we look at the career of Preston Wilson.
Following the 2005 season, the Astros were coming off their first pennant and World Series appearance. As good as the team’s pitching was, they were in clear need of a jolt on offense, as the losses of Jeff Kent and Carlos Beltran from the prior year (not to mention Jeff Bagwell) clearly hampered the lineup. So they turned to Preston Wilson.
Wilson was coming off a three-year stint spent mostly in Colorado, which saw him garner some MVP consideration in 2003 when he popped 36 homers and 43 doubles and led the league with 141 RBIs. He had been traded to Washington in July of 2005.
The Astros signed him to a one-year, $4 million deal to play left field and hopefully provide some lineup protection for Lance Berkman and Morgan Ensberg. Unfortunately that didn’t quite work out as planned.
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Wilson hit .269/.309/.405 with nine homers and 22 doubles in 102 games with the Astros in 2006. Those numbers are far from awful, but they were nowhere near what the team was looking for. As a result, they released him in August.
Wilson broke in with the Mets in 1998 but was promptly included in a trade to the Marlins in exchange for Mike Piazza. He established himself as an everyday player and put up a 30-30 season in 2000, though he also led the majors in strikeouts that year as well.
Then following the 2002 season, Wilson was involved in another notable trade. The Marlins sent him and three others to Colorado in exchange for former Astro Mike Hampton and Juan Pierre. His first year in Denver was a big success, though the next two were less so.
Following his Astros tenure, he was picked up by the Cardinals and re-signed with them for 2007, which would prove to be his final major league season. He finished with a career line of .264/.329/.468 with 189 homers in 10 seasons.
In his prime, he was an above average hitter and legitimate power threat, hitting at least 23 homers in six out of seven seasons from 1999-2005, with the only exception being an injury riddled 2004 campaign.
His Astros tenure wasn’t as memorable as his time in Florida or Colorado, but there have certainly been worse ones. Unfortunately he just wasn’t able to provide the kind of thump the club really needed in the middle of the lineup.