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Top Five Astros of All-Time: Right Field, No. 4

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Continuing my tour of the best position players of all time, we hit No. 4 on our list of right fielders, Mr. Rusty Staub. Though he played a good deal of first base (and center field and left field), he did hit our cutoff for games played in right. While his numbers don't hold up to his reputation as an Astro, the gap between him and Derek Bell at No. 5 is pretty wide. Let's take a look at some of his accomplishments.

  • 454 games played as a right fielder with the Astros
  • 297 runs scored and 370 RBIs.
  • 323 walks and a line of .273/.346/.393
  • An amazingly high 117 OPS+ for his six seasons as an Astro
  • An amazingly low 13.1 WAR over that same time frame.

We will get into more about Rusty after the jump, but he's clearly one of the greats at the position. As clack mentioned before, the candidates are pretty short, and we're left with Bell at 5, Staub at 4, Terry Puhl, Richard Hidalgo and Kevin Bass. So, with those five guys, is No. 4 under-ranking Rusty?

Let's deal with the biggest issue about Rusty Staub first. His first season as an Astro was when he was 19 years old. He played his last game as an Astro at the age of 25. Basically, he didn't hit his peak until after he left, making his Houston years good but short of his best. He should still get bonus points for being one of the best players on some of those bad teams AND for playing as a teenager. But, is it enough to lift him over the other candidates?

The other thing is that Rusty played in some terribly unfriendly ballparks for hitters. Colt Stadium had a park factor of about 95 for the two seasons Rusty played there and then things got worse in the Astrodome. That's why his OPS+ looks so good compared to the other candidates (his is the highest), while his WAR totals and actual numbers are depressed.

I think that Staub could have been a very similar player to Hunter Pence right now. Their numbers are similar (though Staub walked much more), both in OPS+ and looking at the overall lines. Pence has shown a ton more power, but I wonder if Staub could have done the same, playing those six years in MMP. With some decent power numbers away from the 'Dome, Staub could have easily been a 20 WAR player in his career with Houston. That would have put him in discussion as the best right fielder on this list.

However, his numbers are what they are. I don't want to make any judgements based on his defense, but Total Zone seems pretty positive about it. He moved all over the place, which reminds me a little of Lance Berkman. I really wanted to move him up a spot, but the more I thought about the next guy on here, the less I was able to justify it. Staub may be one of the top three right fielders in Montreal history or Mets history, but I couldn't quite put him there for Houston.

I know I should be wrong on this. Tell me why I am.