Houston Astros: 50 Greatest All-Time Players, Part 9 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 and 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 round. 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.
10: Bill Doran (1982-1990, WAR: 28.6)
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Doran was selected by Houston in the sixth round of the 1979 amateur draft, first appearing with the club in 1982, hitting .278 in 26 games.
Doran enjoyed his best stretch with the Astros from 1985 through 1987, hitting .282 with 36 homers, 96 stolen bases and 175 RBI.
An excellent fielder at second base, Doran on four occasions finished in the NL top-five in fielding percentage.
Doran played 1,165 games in nine Houston seasons, hitting .267 and walking more than he struck out, resulting in a .355 career OBP. He also was a credible threat on the basepaths, stealing 191 bases. He later played with the Cincinnati Reds and the Milwaukee Brewers.
9. Don Wilson (1966-1974, WAR: 30.2)
Wilson signed a free-agent contract as an amateur with the Houston Colt .45's in 1964. He saw his first Major League action with the club in 1966, winning his only start in six innings of relief on September 29.
For the next eight seasons, Wilson averaged 31 starts per campaign and posted double digit wins. He saw his only All-Star action in 1971, leading the NL in hits allowed per nine innings, with 6.5, and a 16-10 record.
Wilson also has two no-hitters to his credit, one of only 30 men to accomplish the feat.
In total, Wilson accumulated a 104-92 record and a 3.15 ERA, striking out 1,283 in 1748.1 career innings pitched.
Wilson died accidentally in his home at the age of 29, bringing to an early close the start of a brilliant Major League career.
8. Joe Morgan (1963-1971, 1980, WAR: 30.4)
Morgan signed with the Colt .45's as an amateur free agent in 1962. He made his debut in 1963, and hit .210 in 18 games over his first two seasons.
In 1965, Morgan enjoyed a prolific "official" rookie season with the newly minted "Astros," leading the NL with 97 walks while stealing 20 bases and hitting 14 round-trippers. He finished third in the end-of-the-season voting for NL Rookie of the Year.
1966 represented Morgan's first All-Star selection. He hit .285 and walked 2.07 more times than he struck out. He would also garner an All-Star invitation in 1970.
In 1,032 games over 10 seasons with Houston, Morgan hit .261 with a superior .374 on base percentage. He stole 219 bases and knocked in 327.
Morgan later also played for the Cincinnati Reds, winning five consecutive Gold Gloves for the "Big Red Machine." He later rejoined the Astros for one season before leaving to play two seasons for the San Fransisco Giants and one season each with the Philadelphia Phillies and the Oakland A's.
7. Roy Oswalt (2001-2010, WAR: 41.8)
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Houston signed Oswalt by selecting him in the 23rd round of the 1996 amateur draft. He saw his first action in 2001, posting a 14-3 record with a 2.73 ERA. He struck out 9.1 per nine innings and finished second in the NL Rookie of the Year voting.
For nine-and-a-half seasons, Oswalt was a main cog in the Houston rotation, twice posting 20 wins (with one 19-win season). He garnered three All-Star selections and on five occasions finished in the top-5 vote getters for the NL Cy Young award.
In all, the "Wizard of Os" collected a 143-82 record for Houston. His ERA was 3.24 and he struck out 3.57 batters more than he walked.
He has spent the last season-and-a-half with the Philadelphia Phillies.
6. Jim Wynn (1963-1973, WAR: 44.4)
Wynn, also known as "The Toy Cannon," was signed by the Cincinnati Reds as a free agent in 1962. Houston picked him up in the "First-Year" draft after the 1962 season.
Wynn started at each of the three outfield positions for Houston over the next 11 seasons. He clubbed over 20 home runs in seven of his seasons with the club, and made the All-Star team in 1967, hitting a career high 37 home runs.
Wynn totalled 223 homers and 719 RBI in 1,426 total games for Houston, hitting .255 with 180 stolen bases.
He is currently a post-game analyst for FSN Houston.