ESPN released its top-100 Major League Baseball players of all-time list this week, which grew some controversy. This was mainly in-part to Derek Jeter being ranked ahead of Albert Pujols and other names being left off for players of the 19th century.
Of the players listed, seven of them played for the Houston Astros at some point in their careers. On the list, only one of the former Astros have had their number retired by the franchise, while others weren’t with the team long or were there long enough to be in the team’s Hall of Fame.
Seven players with ties to the Astros rank in ESPN’s top-100 players of all-time.
No. 17 Roger Clemens
Clemens, a Houstonian and member of the Astros Hall of Fame, came out of retirement in 2004 to play for his hometown club. The Astros went to the postseason twice with the right-hander, as he anchored a rotation at 41-years-old in 2004.
That season, Clemens won his seventh Cy Young and started the All-Star Game at Enron Field for the National League. In three seasons, the right-hander was a two-time All-Star with two top-three finished in Cy Young voting.
No. 24 Randy Johnson
Johnson’s touchdown in Houston was a big on. The towering left-hander was a deadline acquisition in 1998 in pursuit of a postseason push.
The Astros inevitably fell short of their first World Series that season, but they didn’t lose much in the trade. Freddy Garcia, Carlos Guillen and John Halama amounted to five All-Star appearances together, but they weren’t Johnson.
No. 37 Joe Morgan
Another member of the Astros Hall of Fame, Morgan played most of his career in Houston, that being 10 years. Despite wearing a Cincinnati Red’s hat into the Hall of Fame, Morgan still ranks as one of the best baseball players in Houston’s history.
His best years came with the Reds, while the Astros don’t have his number hanging above the scoreboard at Minute Maid Park.
Morgan was a two-time All-Star for the Astros, before he was dealt with Ed Armbrister, Jack Billingham, Cesar Geronimo and Denis Menke to the Reds for Tommy Helms, Lee May and Jimmy Stewart. This was not the best trade in franchise history to say the least.
No. 42 Nolan Ryan
Ryan entered the Hall of Fame a Texas Ranger, but he will be remembered for his time in Southeast Texas, too. The right-hander has his number retired by the franchise, while also being in its Hall of Fame.
The Ryan family was a part of the Astros’ front office until only a few years ago. His 27-year career holds records that will never be broken, while his mark on Houston’s franchise runs deeper than just numbers in the record book.
No. 64 Eddie Matthews
Matthews might not be well-known to the common fan, and I don’t blame you for not remembering his time with the Astros. The 12-time All-Star made a stop for coffee in Houston in 1967, before being traded to the Detroit Tigers that same season.
The Hall of Famer was on the backend of his career and was dealt away for players to be named later.
No. 72 Justin Verlander
Verlander is the active player on the list with Astros’ ties. The right-hander was a waiver acquisition late into the 2017 season, and the rest was history.
The future Hall of Famer is back on a one-year deal for 2022, while having a player option for 2023. The deal is worth $50 million alone, although the right-hander hasn’t pitched in a major-league game since July of 2020.
No. 90 Ivan Rodriguez
Rodriguez played only one of his Hall of Fame seasons with the Astros in 2009. His time also didn’t last a full season, after he was traded for a player to be named later to where it all began: Texas.
Pudge’s career was coming to a close. His time in Houston was short, but he was awarded a bobblehead during the season.
Two New York Yankees — Yogi Berra and Reggie Jackson — also made the list. Neither played for the Astros, but both worked for the franchise, Berra being a coach and Jackson working alongside owner Jim Crane.