I'm going to be honest. I kind of forced this Astros History. There is very little in regards to the number 23 and Richard Hildalgo. In fact the only numbers I came up with was 23rd in season defensive wins above replacement (dWAR), games played and outs made in Astros history.
But I wanted to talk about him because he's one of my favorite players and according to Alyson Footer he'll be throwing out the first pitch for the game today.
Hidalgo played eight season with Houston posting a .278/.356/.501 line in 813 games. His best year came in 2000 when he posted a ridiculous .314/.391/.636 line, with 44 homeruns and 122 runs batted in. He posted those numbers in his age 25 season and managed to replicate those numbers only one other time, three seasons later.
2001 and 2002 were down years for Hidalgo, both on and off the field
On November 22, 2002, Chron.com reported that Richard Hidalgo had been shot in his left forearm during a carjacking in his native Venezuela.
Apparently the injury didn't affect him that much since he had the second best season in his career. The 2003 season saw a return to form for Hidalgo with a .309/.385/.572 line, 28 homeruns and 88 runs batted in.The next year, during the middle of the season, he was traded to the New York Mets for Jeremy Griffiths and David Weathers. His final line in 2004 was an unspectacular .239/.301/.444 line.
He ended up playing only one more year with Texas and then was out of baseball.
I have two memories of Hidalgo. First, and this isn't a surprise if you know me, involves a video game. I don't remember what brand of baseball game it was, but it had a couple Minor League players for you to call up. Well Hidalgo was a minor leaguer at the time and I called him up to my Major League team and suddenly I was unbeatable. I remember thinking, "who is this guy? It'd be great if he did this in real life." That was in the Spring of 2000 and that's almost exactly what happened.
My other memory involves a play in the field. I don't remember what year, but it was a year in which Jeff Bagwell's shoulder was failing him. My search for a highlight proved frutile, but I remember a fly ball being hit to shallow right field with a man on third. Bagwell was the only one close enough to get to the ball. After catching the ball the opposing team sent the runner at third, because everyone knew about Bagwell's deteriorating shoulder. Only Bagwell flipped the ball to Hidalgo who had moved in to backup the play.
In eight season with the Astros Hidalgo collected 81 assists, 47 of those from right field. The two things people always seem remember about Hidalgo is his 44 homeruns in 2000 and the cannon he had for his arm.
This particular play would result in one of those 81 assists as he easily gunned down the runner at home. That is by far my favorite defense play ever made, in baseball.