Astros History

Players You Forgot Were Astros: Hall of Famer Robin Roberts

American baseball player Robin Roberts posing on the field, circa 1955. Roberts played most of his nineteen year career as a pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies (1948-1961) and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1976. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
American baseball player Robin Roberts posing on the field, circa 1955. Roberts played most of his nineteen year career as a pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies (1948-1961) and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1976. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit

In this installment of the Players You Forgot Were Astros series, we look at the career of Robin Roberts.

Believe it or not, there’s another Hall of Fame player who spent a brief time with the Houston Astros that we haven’t covered in this series yet. Right-handed pitcher Robin Roberts, who made his name in Philadelphia, was an Astro for a short while.

The Astros picked him up as a free agent in Aug. 1965 after the Orioles released him. The 38-year-old made 10 starts for the club down the stretch and was brilliant, going 5-2 with a 1.89 ERA in 76 innings of work. He only struck out 34 batters, but he also only allowed one home run.

The team re-signed Roberts for the 1966 season, and he worked to a 3.82 ERA in 12 starts and one relief appearance before he was released in early July. He finished his brief Astros career with a total 2.77 ERA in 139.2 innings of work.

Heyday

More from Climbing Tal's Hill

Roberts broke into the majors with the Phillies in 1948. By 1950, he’d established himself as an All-Star. That was the first year of a six-year run in which he pitched at least 300 innings and won at least 20 games in each season. He was a seven-time All-Star and had five top-10 MVP finishes, as these years came before there was a Cy Young award.

He led the majors in starts six times, innings pitched five times, complete games five times, wins four times and strikeouts twice. All of these came in a seven-year span from 1950 to 1956. That 1956 season was the start of a decline, however, as he was mostly a below-average pitcher for the rest of his Phillies tenure. It ended with a 1961 season that saw him go 1-10 with a 5.85 ERA.

Roberts underwent a mid-30s renaissance after leaving Philadelphia for Baltimore, however. He posted sub-3.00 ERAs in three of the next four years, culminating in his brilliant half-season with the Astros. His final stint, with the Cubs in late 1966, was not successful, but it concluded a remarkable turnaround late in his career.

All told, Roberts went 286-245 in 19 seasons with a 3.41 ERA. Of the 609 starts he made, about half (305) were complete games. His best season, 1952, saw him go 28-7 with a 2.59 ERA and throw 30 complete games in 37 starts, totaling 330 innings. They don’t make ’em like that anymore.

facebooktwitterreddit