Matthew Kunkel, Contributor
I have so many former Astro players that I loved over the years. When I was a young fan, I was always drawn to Shane Reynolds for his calm demeanor, Craig Biggio for the zest he played with, Moises Alou for his smooth swing, and I spent countless hours trying to master the Jeff Bagwell stance for my little league games. For the peak 2000s Astros, I had my Berkman and Bagwell jerseys in my room, I had my coveted Wade Miller rookie card and was convinced Morgan Ensberg was a future Hall-of-Famer (for a time). Right now, I wear my Altuve jersey with pride, think Kyle Tucker is a future MVP and will somehow root for the Blue Jays on occasion because George Springer plays for them. But I think my favorite Astro might be Josh Reddick.
The Astros signed him to a lofty contract back in 2017 when expectations were sky-high. Reddick came into Houston as a borderline All-Star from his years in Oakland and was expected to be a missing piece for a championship run. As we all know, Reddick was a perfect fit for Houston – he hit .314 in 2017 with 82 RBIs while batting 9th in the order. He was locked in all season at the plate and made huge defensive plays every day.
Yes, Reddick brought his .314 BA and a Gold Glove arm to the team – but the biggest thing Reddick brought was culture.
Josh Reddick is a unique dude – someone who likes his hair slicked back and his sleeveless cutoffs, who loves wrestling and lives his life according to Ric Flair. He’s a competitive guy who calls it like it is, likes to have fun, and loves to win. And he brought that energy to an Astro team feeling the weight of expectation, and made it fun for all the players. And for fans like me.
He was the guy who started the championship belt celebration, where the MVP of the game was anointed the championship belt in the locker room. He was the guy (along with Springer) who did the Fortnite Dance Celebration in the outfield after a win. He was the guy who did interviews doing the Ric Flair “Woooo!!!” that later became part of his identity with Houston. He was the guy who chewed bubble gum with his glasses while the plate. He was the guy who made unbelievable home run robs in the outfield that would pump the team up. Reddick brought his version of fun to this super-talented Astro team and ultimately got the best out of them. That’s culture.
When the cheating scandal came out and all the Astro players were rightfully getting ridiculed, Reddick was one of the more outspoken guys in the locker room. He received death threats and yet still backed up his teammates, although he (and Altuve) were the ones who were least involved in the infamous trash can scheme. In a difficult situation for all Astro players and fans, Reddick stayed true to himself and the team.
Reddick started to fall off a cliff statistically at the plate, only hitting .245 in his last season with Houston with no more pop off his bat. Whether or not he signs with another team as a free agent or retires, Reddick’s legacy with Houston should not be lost on fans. Especially now that the Astros are the new villains for professional baseball.
Reddick, to me, will always represent a time when being a fan of the Astros was fun. Let’s poor one out, one last time, for the great Josh Reddick – WOOOOOO!