Friday, August 24, 2012

All-Time Teams #11: Houston Astros

This is part of an ongoing series where I'm naming an all-time team for each of the current 30 MLB franchises, and using this as a vehicle to discuss their greatest eligible player who is not in the Hall of Fame.

Somebody speak up and call me out if I'm getting too lax in my positional rules here. But, these were my options for one of the bigger decisions I had to make here:
  • Start Craig Biggio at second base and Alan Ashby at catcher, with Joe Morgan backing up at second and someone like Brad Ausmus as reserve catcher. This would make it difficult to keep Bill Doran at all, as two reserves who both essentially only play second base wouldn't make much sense.
  • Move Biggio behind the plate, start Morgan at second, slide Doran into the backup second base role and keep only one weak catcher on the team—Alan Ashby—as a backup.
The latter option just seemed to make for a much stronger team, and since Biggio was a catcher for the first 3 1/2 seasons of his career, this doesn't seem like a stretch to me. I realize, though, this probably means I should re-think my Chipper Jones decision, but I'll get to that. In fact, I plan on reviewing all the previous teams and making updates as I see fit.

The other difficult choices here were starters at shortstop and third base—mainly because there wasn't really much to choose from—and deciding between Bob Watson and Glenn Davis for the backup first base job.

The rotation wasn't as difficult as it might seem. I'm sure some folks would question the fact J.R. Richard didn't make the starting five, but honestly I think he's kind of overrated based on his brief brilliance and the fantasy of what might have been. I've said this before, but I don't give guys credit for what they might have done if not for a career-ending or career-limiting injury.

Joe Niekro is the team's all-time wins leader, but aside from one great and a couple pretty good years, he was really nothing more than a pitcher who provided a lot of value by throwing a lot of quality innings. That's good enough to make the team, but not the starting rotation. 

Franchise History
Houston Astros (1965- )
Houston Colt .45's (1962-1964)

An asterisk (*) denotes a Hall of Famer.

C - Craig Biggio (1988-2007)
1B - Jeff Bagwell (1991-2005)
2B - Joe Morgan* (1963-1971, 1980)
SS - Dickie Thon (1981-1987)
3B - Ken Caminiti (1987-1994, 1999-2000)
LF - Jose Cruz (1975-1987)
CF - Cesar Cedeno (1970-1981)
RF - Lance Berkman (1999-2010)

Roy Oswalt (2001-2010)
Larry Dierker (1964-1976)
Don Wilson (1966-1974)
Mike Scott (1983-1991)
Nolan Ryan* (1980-1988)

Billy Wagner (1995-2003)

C - Alan Ashby (1979-1989)
1B/OF - Bob Watson (1966-1979)
2B - Bill Doran (1982-1990)
IF - Art Howe (1976-1982)
OF - Jim Wynn (1963-1973)
OF - Terry Puhl (1977-1990)

J.R. Richard (1971-1980)
Roger Clemens (2004-2006)
Joe Niekro (1975-1985)
Ken Forsch (1970-1980)
Dave Smith (1980-1990)

Bill Virdon (1975-1982)

Sure, Phil Garner guided the 2005 Astros to the only World Series appearance in their history, but I feel like Virdon took them from perennial also-ran to legitimate contender for the first time, and that's got to count for something.

Greatest Eligible non-Hall of Famer

Do I need to spill even more virtual ink about Jeff Bagwell than has already been wasted. He deserves to be a Hall of Famer, period. In fact, I'm fairly confident he will eventually be elected by that stubborn group who think they're the gatekeepers of the "purity" of the institution.

Jeff Bagwell [Image via Wikimedia Commons]

Therefore, I think it's worth mentioning a couple other guys here. There are a lot of Hall of Nearly Great types in this franchise's half-century of history. When Bagwell finally gets in, assuming Craig Biggio hasn't been passed over at that point, the distinction of greatest Astro not in the Hall of Fame will come down to Jim Wynn (who also enjoyed a couple great years in Los Angeles), Cesar Cedeno or Jose Cruz. Depending on how long it takes for that to happen, Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman might enter the conversation as well.

In fact, this franchise has a really good chance of moving up on the all-time "Screwed by the Hall of Fame" list. That's saying something, considering they've existed less than half as long as each of the five teams who combine with them to make up the top six.

Next Up: Kansas City Royals


  1. Absolutely right about J.R. Richard. Jeez I loved that guy though.

    word verification: 9A Polzing