6) Martín Maldonado
Our lovable catcher kicks off the list. Much of Maldy’s excellence is behind the scenes. He’s not going to hit 30 home runs or rack up an OPS over .800, but his impact is just as valuable.
His prep work is legendary. Machete’s fingerprints are all over the success of the rotation and bullpen, as his expert pitch calling and framing keep all of our pitchers both comfortable and locked in. If somebody does reach base, his Howitzer cannon of a right arm keeps them close at first.
All Maldy does is put the team first, often at the expense of himself. He played half of the 2022 season with a broken hand and a sports hernia because his teammates needed him.
Beyond his on-field and clubhouse presence, his antics endear him to Houston. Be it dying his hair various colors at his daughter’s discretion, publicly recruiting free agents to re-sign, posing after sliding/stumbling into second base, or defending Jose Altuve while he finishes a home run trot, everything he does makes him even more lovable.
To paraphrase his “They asked for Houston. They got Houston,” locker room comment, “We want Maldy. We’ve got Maldy. And we’re thankful for Maldy.”