In this installment of the Players You Forgot Were Astros series, we look at the Hall of Fame career of Ivan Rodriguez.
Rodriguez was 37 years old at the time and well past his prime, but the club needed him. Longtime backstop Brad Ausmus had left for the Dodgers, and the fact that Rodriguez was still available in the second half of March was surprising. He wasn’t the player he had once been, but he was a worthy starter.
He played in 93 games for the Astros that year and hit .251/.280/.382 with eight homers and 34 RBIs. He played solid defense behind the dish and was still above average at throwing out base stealers. But with the team out of playoff contention, GM Ed Wade traded Rodriguez to the Rangers on Aug. 18 for two players who would not reach the major leagues.
Hall of Fame Career
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Rodriguez broke into the majors at age 19 with the Rangers in 1991. He blossomed into the game’s best all-around catcher, earning 10 straight All-Star selections and winning 10 straight Gold Glove Awards. He won the AL MVP Award in 1999 on the strength of a .334 average, 35 homers, 113 RBIs, 25 stolen bases and a majors-best 55 percent caught stealing rate.
He left the Rangers as a free agent prior to the 2003 season and spent one year with the Marlins, winning a World Series before that team got blown up yet again. He signed with the Tigers and won three more Gold Gloves and had four more All-Star selections during his stint in Detroit.
After splitting the 2008 season between the Tigers and Yankees, Pudge split 2009 between the two Texas teams, the latter being a reunion with his longtime Rangers club. He spent his final two seasons with the Nationals before retiring.
Rodriguez finished his career with a .296 average, 2,844 hits, 572 doubles and 311 homers. He was one of the greatest defensive catchers the game has ever seen, and one of the best hitting catchers as well. He wasn’t at his peak during his time in Houston, but the Astros nonetheless had a future Hall of Famer on their roster.