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Finding the best Astros spring performance of the last 13 years

Sifting through meaningless numbers to see who had the most impressive spring.

Yep. Casey Daigle makes an appearance.
Yep. Casey Daigle makes an appearance.
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Astros spring games begin on March 5.

That day can't get here soon enough.

Before the games start and recognizing that spring stats mean very little, let's look back through the years and see who had the best spring performances since 2002. That's an arbitrary date, but it's the earliest that ESPN's spring stats go back.

Who would your choice be for the best spring performance by an Astro?

Yordany Ramirez, 2010

Do you remember Ramirez? He never appeared in a major league game, but played for the Astros and the Padres in the minor leagues for 12 seasons.

In 2010, Ramirez did very well for himself, going 5-for-11 in nine spring games with one home run and four RBIs.

He hit .223/.259/.289 in 74 games for Round Rock that season.

Jason Smith, 2009

Is it Jason Smith? Could it be Jeff Smith? Or Jordan Smith? Maybe Jim Smith? I could have thrown any one of those names out there and you probably could have believed it. There may not be a more anonymous Astro in the last six years.

Smith made the Astros out of spring training in 2009, inexplicably, before going 0-for-25 in 21 games before being released. He never played in the majors again.

Why did he make the team? The journeyman infielder was signed away from Kansas City by Ed Wade.

That spring, he hit .373, going 22-for-59 in 30 games with three doubles, three triples and an RBI.

Maybe don't make decisions based on spring performance next time, Ed Wade.

Rick White, 2007

The journeyman reliever signed with Houston during the winter of 2006 and made an early impression on his new club.

White threw 11 scoreless innings that spring, striking out eight and walking two while giving up five hits.

He did not impress as much during his Age 38 season, putting up a 7.67 ERA in 29 innings while striking out 15 and walking 14. He was released by the Astros on June 28 of that season and signed nearly a month later with Seattle, where he finished up his final big-league season.

Alan Zinter, 2002

Houston's new assistant hitting coach Zinter hit .435 in 17 games back in 2002. Zinter finished third on the club in home runs with five, behind both Jeff Bagwell and Lance Berkman with seven apiece.

Zinter played in 39 games for Houston that season, hitting .136/.136/.318 with two home runs and two doubles.

Zinter only played in 67 major league games, debuting at Age 34 on June 18 of 2002. He had hit .231/.298/.440 that season in Triple-A New Orelans, starting 57 games at first base before getting called up.

His big league debut wasn't because of injury. The Astros just sent down struggling players Adam Everett and Keith Ginter, recalling Scott Linebrink from the disabled list and giving Zinter a shot.

In his minor league career, Zinter hit 263 home runs in 19 seasons. Houston's general manager at the time, Gerry Hunsicker, was the Mets' director of minor league operations in 1989 when Zinter was drafted in the first round.

Alberto Arias, 2009

A waiver wire pickup from Colorado, Arias impressed in his first spring with the Astros. He did not give up an earned run in 10 innings, striking out nine and walking two. He gave up one unearned run and eight hits in seven games.

Arias, 25 at the time, had a 3.35 ERA in 45 innings that season with 39 strikeouts and 19 walks, more than justifying his spring numbers. He didn't make the Opening Day roster, but was called up on May 6.

Shoulder injuries in the spring of 2010 and 2010 scuttled his career. He did pitch 1/3 of an inning in 2012 for Licey in the Dominican Winter League.

This is by far the saddest entry on the list.

Luke Scott, 2005

Before he was doing Luke Scott things in the majors, the Astros lightly-regarded outfield prospect crushed seven home runs in 25 games during the spring.

No other Astros player hit more than three home runs that year. Morgan Ensberg, who only hit three home runs that spring, led Houston with 36 homers in that World Series season.

Scott also hit one triple and six doubles and had 16 more total bases than anyone else on the club.

He made the team out of spring training that year, but hit just .154/.250/.205 before getting sent down to the minors on April 29. Scott got called up on August 30 and played extensively down the stretch for Houston. He then played in two games during the Divisional Series against Atlanta, going 0-for-2 with a walk and a runs scored in the middle of the 7-6 victory in Game 4.

Casey Daigle, 2010

Jenny Finch's husband gave up two runs (one earned), but don't hold that against him. He also struck out 17 while walking one in 15 2/3 innings. He gave up 12 hits and started two games that year.

The season did not go as well for him. In 10 innings that season, he gave up 13 runs and 25 hits for a 11.32 ERA. That was the third-highest ERA by an Astros pitcher with at least 10 innings in a season.

Daigle did have a 4.91 ERA in 44 innings at Triple-A for Houston

(In case you're wondering, Steve Randolph holds that crown, with a 12.15 ERA in 13 innings in 2007)

Hunter Pence, 2007

Context: Pence was drafted in 2004 out of UT-Arlington. His unorthodox playing style made him a divisive prospect, but what he did in the spring of 2007 couldn't be ignored.

Of course, it was ignored, as Pence was sent to Triple-A and didn't debut that year until April 28.

In 19 games, Pence went 16-for-28 with four doubles, two triples and two home runs, netting nine RBIs. His .571 batting average led the spring that year, narrowly edging out Tommy Manzella's .556 average in five games.

Pence continued his spring success in Triple-A, hitting .326/.387/.558 with three home runs before making his MLB debut.

That's why Pence wins this award. He crushed the Grapefruit League and then he crushed the minors before crushing his rookie season.

Spring stats do mean something!