Houston Astros: 50 Greatest All-Time Players, Part 6 of 10
The Houston Astros recently completed their 50th Major League season. Originally, the team was known as the Houston Colt .45s, from their inaugural season in 1962 through 1964. In 1965, however, the team adopted the moniker, "Astros."
Since then, the Astros have been to the postseason nine times, winning the National League pennant in 2005. Houston only hit .500 once in its first 10 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, but the Astros did not make it past the first series. Until 1986, the Astros did not return as contenders. In that season, they were once more eliminated in the first round.
From 1997 through 2005, the Astros made the postseason six times. They won their first ever series in 2004, against the Atlanta Braves before losing the NLCS to the St. Louis Cardinals. In 2005, the team advanced to the World Series by first beating the Atlanta Braves and 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.
25. Ken Caminiti (1987-1994, 1999-2000, WAR: 15.4)
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Caminiti was selected by Houston in the third round of the 1984 draft.
The third baseman played in Houston for eight seasons starting in 1987. He was their everyday third baseman from 1989 through 1994.
In his first tour with the team, Caminiti hit .260 with 75 home runs and 445 RBI.
Caminiti was selected to his first All-Star team in 1994, hitting .283 in 111 games during the strike-shortened season. He then joined the San Diego Padres for four seasons, making the All-Star team twice, winning three Gold Gloves, two Silver Sluggers and one MVP award.
He rejoined the Astros for two seasons starting in 1999, and later played for the Texas Rangers and the Atlanta Braves.
Caminiti died of a drug overdose on October 10, 2004
24. Kevin Bass (1982-1989, 1993-1994, WAR: 15.7)
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Bass, a right fielder, was selected by the Milwaukee Brewers in the second round of the 1977 draft.
After debuting with the club for 18 games in 1982, Bass was traded to the Astros, where he spent his next six-and-a-half seasons.
His best season with the club was 1986, when he was selected to the NL All-Star roster by hitting .311 with 20 home runs and 79 RBI. He also stole 23 bases that season.
Bass hit 87 home runs and 468 RBI for the Astros, stealing 120 bases and hitting .278.
23. Richard Hidalgo (1997-2004, WAR: 17.4)
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Hidalgo made his first Major League appearance with the Astros in 1997, six years after having signed an amateur free agent contract.
In his first three seasons with the club, he hit 24 home runs and 97 RBI with a .259 batting average.
2000 proved to be a career season for Hidalgo, as he clubbed a NL fourth-best 44 home runs while collecting 122 RBI and hitting .314 for the club.
After two unspectacular seasons, Hidalgo again had a breakout campaign in 2003, hitting .309 with 28 home runs and 88 RBI.
He joined the New York Mets midway through the 2004 season and played for the Texas Rangers in 2005. He currently plays with a team in Venezuela.
22. Billy Wagner (1995-2003, WAR: 17.6)
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Wagner is the Astros all-time saves leader with 225.
Selected by the Astros in the first round of the 1993 draft, Wagner made his first appearance in Houston in 1995. He was selected to the NL All-Star team three times as a member of the team.
In 1999, Wagner went 4-1 with a 1.57 ERA and 39 saves. His WHIP was a staggeringly low 0.777. He also struck out 14.9 batters per nine innings.
Wagner posted career numbers of 26-29, a 2.53 ERA, a 1.039 WHIP and 12.4 strikeouts per nine innings.
21. Shane Reynolds (1992-2002, WAR: 17.9)
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Reynolds was picked up by the Astros in the third round of the 1989 amateur draft out of the University of Texas at Austin.
He made his Major League debut with the club in 1992, posting a 1-3 record with a 7.11 ERA.
Reynolds joined the regular rotation in May of 1994, starting a total of 248 games for Houston.
1998 was Reynolds' best season with the Astros, as he posted a 19-8 record with a 3.51 ERA and 209 strikeouts in 233.1 innings.
He totalled 103 wins against 86 losses, and is one of only eight Astros pitchers to win over 100 games with the club. His career ERA was 3.95, and he struck out 3.66 batters for every walk issued.