Time Machine: The 1994 Astros Season That Was Cut Short

(Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) /

This is the first work stoppage baseball has had since the strike shortened season of 1994. The Houston Astros of 2022 are considered to yet again be World Series contenders whenever baseball does resume, if it does in fact resume this year.

While this year’s Astros have been competitive for the past seven years, the 1994 strike really cut deep into Astros fans hearts.

For those who aren’t old enough to remember, It was the first season the Astros were competitive in quite some time. It looked like they had finally put it all together and were in position to make the playoffs for the first time since their devastating six game series loss in the 1986 National League Championship Series to the New York Mets.

It appeared an eight year post season drought was on the cusp of being rubbed out. The Astros were a half game behind the Cincinnati Reds for the Central division title and only two and a half games out of the wild card which had just been instituted that season.

These were the standings as of Aug. 11, 1994. Less than two months to go and the Astros were in the hunt to break through before the strike ended the season.

The team was being carried by what would become the two faces of the franchise offensively in Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell. They both made the all-star team that season along with third baseman Ken Caminiti, starting pitcher Doug Drabek and closer John Hudek.

Out of all five of those all-stars, Bagwell stood head and shoulders above everyone else. He was having one of the best all-time regular seasons by anyone at any position, much less a first baseman.

After 110 games, Bagwell was hitting .368 with 147 hits, 39 home runs and 116 RBI. That already is impressive enough but the fact that as a first basemen he scored 104 runs alongside 15 stolen bases made this season what would be one of the best seasons any player has ever put up.

Pro-rated his numbers come out over 162 games to 216 hits, 153 runs scored, 57 home runs, 171 RBI and 22 stolen bases. No one in baseball history has reached all of those milestones in one season.

Even without the strike, Bagwell would have missed the rest of the year as two days before the strike began his hand was fractured on a hit by pitch from Andy Benes.

But because of the strike his numbers stood out so greatly that he was just the fourth NL player ever to win the MVP unanimously, something that wouldn’t have happened if the season had continued on without him playing due to his injury.

The 1994 Astros weren’t strong enough to win the World Series that year, but it was the beginning of something special. Similar to the 2015 season, we were seeing glimpses of the future success before all our beloved players became known on the national stage.

The Astros would fall short of the playoffs the following two seasons coming in second in their division before the 1997 season when they broke through and started what to that point would be the most successful stretch of Astros baseball.

It was the beginning of the Killer B’s, which again if you are too young to remember were obviously Bagwell and Biggio but also Derek Bell and Sean Berry.

Yes, those were the original four Killer B’s. Lance Berkman and Carlos Beltran would eventually take their places in 2004 to resurrect the nickname as they won their first playoff series in franchise history that season.

As the 2022 season remains in limbo we can only hope that much like 1994 the best memories are still to come. That we’re not cutting short amazing seasons from future franchise cornerstones like Kyle Tucker and Yordan Alvarez.

Next. 2 former Astros to fill Phillies broadcast booth. dark

And that mainstays like Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and Lance McCullers Jr. continue their path forward as Astros favorites.

And who knows, maybe if the luxury tax threshold gets raised to $238 million like the players want, we’ll see Carlos Correa remain an Astro just yet. We have to have a season first to find out.