Houston Astros: 50 Greatest All-Time Players, Part 1 of 10
The Houston Astros recently completed their 50th Major League season.
The Astros have been to the postseason nine times, winning the National League pennant in 2005.
The team was known as the Houston Colt .45's from their inaugural season in 1962 through 1964. In 1965 the team adopted the moniker "Astros."
Houston only hit .500 once in its first ten seasons, and did not post a winning record until 1972. Their first postseason appearance was in 1980, as the team took home their first NL West title.
They again made the playoffs in the following season, the strike-shortened 1981 campaign. Again, the Astros did not make it past the first series.
Until 1986, the Astros did not repeat as contenders. In that season, they again were eliminated in the first round.
In 2005, the team advanced to the World Series by first beating the Atlanta Braves then the St. Louis Cardinals. The team was defeated in four games by the Chicago White Sox.
In the six seasons since that time, Houston has posted a winning record twice, and in 2011 finished 50 games under .500, their worst season ever.
The Astros can only go up from here. As we reflect on what next season may hold, let's take a look back at the Astros Top 50 players of all-time.
This list was compiled with resources available at www.baseball-reference.com, namely the "Wins Above Replacement" statistic.
50. Wandy Rodriguez (2005-Present, WAR: 9.9)
Rodriguez signed with the Astros as a free agent in 1999, and made his major league debut in 2005, posting a 10-10 record with a 5.53 ERA.
2009 has been his best season to date. He compiled a 14-12 record with a 3.02 ERA, good for ninth best in the NL.
Thus far, Rodriguez is 73-75 with a 4.08 ERA and a 1.344 WHIP. He recently recorded his 1,000th strikeout.
49. Hunter Pence (2007-2011, WAR: 10.0)
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Pence was selected by the Astros in the second round of the 2004 amateur draft.
He made his debut with the club in 2007, hitting .322 with 17 home runs and 69 RBI's. He finished third in the NL Rookie of the Year voting.
Pence, a right fielder, made the All-Star team with good seasons in 2009 and 2011. He was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies midseason.
During his time in Houston, he recorded a .290 batting average with 103 home runs and 377 RBI's.
48. Bob Knepper (1981-1989, WAR: 10.2)
Knepper, a lefty, was drafted in the second round of the 1972 draft by the San Fransisco Giants. He played five seasons with the Giants before a trade brought him to Houston in 1980.
In his first season with the Astros, Knepper made the All-Star team, posting a 9-5 record with a microscopic ERA of 2.18 and a WHIP of 1.06, both career bests. He was named the NL Comeback Player of the Year.
In 1986, Knepper led the NL with five shutouts, going 17-12.
He made the All-Star team again in 1988, going 14-5 with a 3.14 ERA. He posted a career 93-100 mark for Houston over nine seasons. His ERA was 3.66, and he posted 18 career shutouts.
He closed out his career by rejoining the Giants as a free agent during the 1989 season.
47. Mark Portugal (1989-1993, WAR: 10.3)
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Portugal signed a free agent contract with the Minnesota Twins in 1980, and debuted with the club in 1985. He would play with the Twins for four seasons before a trade brought him to Houston for the 1989 season.
1993 was Portugal's best season for the Astros. He would finish sixth in the Cy Young award voting that year by posting an 18-4 record with a 2.77 ERA.
He compiled a 52-30 record for Houston. His ERA was 3.34 over 135 games.
46. Octavio Dotel (2000-2004, WAR: 10.6)
Dotel was signed by the New York Mets as a free agent in 1993. He made his debut with the team in 1999. He arrived at Houston after a trade in the 1999 offseason.
Dotel, a right handed strikeout artist, played for Houston for four and a half seasons, mostly as a reliever. In 2002, he pitched in 83 games, second best in the NL. He posted a 1.85 ERA, going 6-4 with six saves.
For his time with the Astros, Dotel went 22-24 with 42 saves and a 3.25 ERA in 449 innings. He allowed 344 hits and struck out 552.
He went on to play for the Oakland Athletics, the New York Yankees, the Kansas City Royals, the Atlanta Braves, the Chicago White Sox, the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Colorado Rockies, the Toronto Blue Jays and is currently a St. Louis Cardinals. His 12 Major League teams ties a record for pitchers; Matt Stairs, a utility infielder, has played with 13.
Check back tomorrow as we continue counting down the Astros through number 41.