For game 6 we'll be taking a look at the current six Hall of Fame players to have played for the Houston Astros.
The Astros do not have a player donning the Astros star in the Hall of Fame yet -- hopefully this is the last season we say that. But that doesn't mean the Astros haven't had Hall of Fame players, in fact they've had six not including Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell, both of whom we expect to get in eventually.
The focus of this post will be the players who have contributed to the Astros, but don't wear the hat in the hall.
The first Hall of Famer to grace the team was Joe Morgan, who the Colt .45's had signed as an amateur free agent in 1962. Yes, he started with the Astros franchise, even spending a majority of his career in Houston, but made his name with the Cincinnati Reds.
Morgan made his debut in 1963 at the ripe age of 19. His 10 years in Houston are accompanied by a .261/.374/.393 line and a 30.4 wins above replacement (WAR) via Baseball Reference. He spent the first nine years of his career with Houston before being shipped to Cincinnati with Ed Ambrister, Jack Billingham, Cesar Geronimo and Denis Menke for Tommy Helms, Lee May and Jimmy Stewart.
After eight years with the Reds, at age 36, Morgan would return to Houston for the 1980 season. He lead the league in walks that year with 93 while posting a .243/.367/.373 line. He would be let go during the offseason.
Nellie Fox would finish out his eventual Hall of Fame career with the Houston Astros, in 1964 and 1965.
Prior to his age 36 and 37 seasons he played 14 years with the Chicago White Sox, compiling a .291/.349/.367 line. In 544 plate appearances with Houston Fox posted a .265/.317/.319 line. His .268/.286/.317 line in 1965 led to his eventual release by the Astros July 31.
Robin Roberts joined Morgan and Fox to give the Astros the only year in which three Hall of Famers played on the team, the year, 1965.
Roberts never actually pitched a full season for the Astros. He was signed by the Astros August 6, 1965 after being released by Baltimore Orioles on July 31 of that year. He pitched well for the Astros posting a 177 adjusted earned run average (ERA+), which adjust for ballpark factors anything above 100 is above average, in 76 innings.* He made 10 starts winning five and losing two.
*If you're looking to make a case for Dallas Keuchel success at the big leagues point to Roberts who struck out only 4.5 batters per nine and walked 1.7 per nine. Well at least Keuchel could of pitched back then.
In 1966 Roberts pitched 63.2 innings before being released July 4, 1966. He had a ERA+ of 89 in 13 games, 12 of those starts.
Eddie Mathews was acquired from the Atlanta Braves along with Arnold Umbach and Sandy Alomar (PTBNL) for Bob Bruce and Dave Nicholson.
He played in 101 games for the Astros smacking 10 of his 512 homeruns, while posting a .238/.333/.381 line. Matthews his his 500th homerun for the Astros on July 14, 1967 against the San Francisco Giants at Candlestick Park. He became only the seventh member of the 500 club.
On August 17, 1967, Mathews would be traded to the Detroit Tigers for Fred Gladding (PTBNL), ending his short tenure with the Astros.
Nolan Ryan. You knew we'd get here at some point.
In 1980 Ryan signed at the time the most lucrative contract in Major League Baseball history with the Astros. With a vintage Nolan Ryan signature, a whopping one million dollar contract was signed, making Ryan the first million dollar player in Baseball.
In 1981 and 1987 he was arguably the best pitcher in the league, leading the league in ERA+ both years. In 1981 he posted a ridiculous 195 ERA+ and a 142 ERA+ in 1987. His '87 year was actually the better year, due to pitching 211 innings as opposed to 149 in '81.* A look at Baseball References WAR numbers say the same thing, 4.5 in '81 to 5.5 in '87. Overall he pitched 1854.2 innings for the Astros with a 110 ER+, good for a 106-94 record.
*He threw his record breaking fifth no-hitter in '81
Finally, Don Sutton spent 1981 and part of 1982 with the Astros.
He signed, at the age of 36, with the Astros prior to the '81 season, and was eventually traded to the Milwaukee Brewers August 30, 1982, for Kevin Bass, Frank Dipino and Mike Madden, all as players to be named later.
In 353.2 innings for the Astros Sutton compiled a 24-17 record and a 117 ERA+.
Despite not having a player representing the Astros in the hall, their are several interesting Hall of Fame players who have played for this team. Unfortunately, they've been of the older or slighted variety. Both Morgan and Ryan spent the most years of their career in Houston, but both found fame elsewhere and departed on unfavorable terms with the Astros organization.
Hopefully, towards the end of this year we'll be able to tout two Astros player who represent everything we want this organization to be. Hopefully, we'll have two Hall of Famers we can call our own.