Astros History

Astros: Reviewing the 1971 Joe Morgan trade with Reds

HOUSTON, TX - JUNE 22: Former Colt .45s/Astros All-Star second baseman Joe Morgan is inducted into the Astros Walk of Fame at Minute Maid Park on June 22, 2012 in Houston, Texas. Morgan played parts of his first nine Major League seasons with the Colt .45s (1963-64) and Astros (1965-71) in what would ultimately be a Hall of Fame career from 1963-84. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - JUNE 22: Former Colt .45s/Astros All-Star second baseman Joe Morgan is inducted into the Astros Walk of Fame at Minute Maid Park on June 22, 2012 in Houston, Texas. Morgan played parts of his first nine Major League seasons with the Colt .45s (1963-64) and Astros (1965-71) in what would ultimately be a Hall of Fame career from 1963-84. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /
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ATLANTA, GA – JULY 25: Lee May #23 of the Houston Astros and National League All-Stars bats against the American League All-Stars during Major League Baseball All-Star game July 25, 1972 at Atlanta Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia. The National League won the game 4-3. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA – JULY 25: Lee May #23 of the Houston Astros and National League All-Stars bats against the American League All-Stars during Major League Baseball All-Star game July 25, 1972 at Atlanta Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia. The National League won the game 4-3. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images) /

What the Astros Got

The biggest piece of the return was May, a power-hitting first baseman. The Astros needed some more power in their lineup and he was coming off three straight seasons of 34 or more homers with the Reds, and he was in his prime at age 28.

His power output declined a bit in Houston, probably as a result of playing half of his games in the Astrodome, but he was still a productive hitter. In three seasons with the Astros, May hit .274/.317/.471 with 81 doubles, 81 homers and 288 RBIs. He gave the team 6.2 WAR in those three seasons before being traded to the Orioles in Dec. 1974 in the deal that brought Enos Cabell to Houston.

Helms was coming off two straight Gold Glove awards and immediately took over at second base for Morgan. But he wasn’t anywhere close to the offensive player Morgan was, offering almost no power and drawing few walks. He didn’t strike out much either, but his value came almost entirely from his defense.

Helms hit .269/.306/.348 with 14 homers in four seasons in Houston with solid defensive metrics, though he didn’t win any more hardware. He compiled 4.2 WAR in his time with the Astros, so he was a solid player, just not anywhere near the player he replaced.

Stewart was mainly a pinch hitter in his two seasons with the Astros, which were also the final two seasons of his career. He totaled a .207/.273/.262 line with no homers in 186 plate appearances, totaling -0.7 WAR.

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