He may not have been the best pitcher to ever suit up for the Houston Astros. Heck, he may not have been the best guy on any of the staffs he was on. But, there's no question Shane Reynolds ended up being one of the better pitchers Houston has seen in the past 30 years.
Only seven Houston pitchers have more wins than Reynolds' 103. Only seven have generated more WAR by Baseball Reference's measure. He's got the fourth-lowest career walk rate and the 10th highest strikeout rate in club history. Only seven pitchers threw more innings than him and only five have more strikeouts.
Yet, I have a sense than Shano isn't thought of in the same light as Nolan, RoyO, J.R., Scotty and Dierk. Three of those guys have numbers retired and another has a star on the Walk of Fame. Will Reynolds be so honored?
I think he should be. He was there for much of the Astros great playoff run from 1997-2001. He won 19 games in 1998 on maybe the best team Houston has ever fielded. He struck out 200 batters twice and came within three Ks of doing it a third time. You know how many pitchers have done it since Shano did it in '98? Two. Oswalt twice and Clemens once. No one has topped the mark since 2004.
Wins don't tell us a lot about how good a player was. Reynolds racked up 103 wins with Houston because he played on some of the most successful teams in franchise history. Yet, the rest of his stats back up his status as one of the top pitchers ever. He just got overshadowed by the 'Dome, Mike Hampton, Jose Lima and Randy Johnson before and then the Oswalt-Clemens-Pettite rotations after him.
Maybe I'm wrong, and maybe he's being remembered better than I imagine it. If that's the case, I'd be thrilled. If not, all we can do is keep writing articles like this to remind people that Shano was very good.