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Everystros Countdown: Chapter XVIII

Welcome to the Replacement Level article.

MLB: Houston Astros at Oakland Athletics
Parker Mushinski
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Chapter 18 of our series begins for us on the Replacement level.

Still in the third bracket of Astros — players between 21 and 100 PA/BF — today’s story is focused mainly on players who accrued 0.0 bWAR during their short time here. The final player in today’s article is the first in the bracket who posted stats that landed him above replacement level during his Astros tenure. It’s also the first article that is focused on 13 players instead of 14.

728. Cameron Maybin is a six-foot-three right-handed center fielder from Asheville, NC. Born on April 4, 1987, Maybin was the Detroit Tigers first-round choice in 2005 out of T.C. Roberson HS, 10th overall off the draft board.

Maybin got around. He played for a total of 10 major league teams over an eventual 15-season career, some of those teams twice or more. After appearing in 24 games for Detroit in his debut in 2007 (.143/.208/.265), he played with the Florida Marlins (144 games, .257/.323/.391), the San Diego Padres (393 games, .246/.307/.358), the Atlanta Braves (141 games, .267/.327/.370), the Tigers again (94 games, .315/.383/.418), and the Los Angeles Angels (93 games, .235/.333/.351).

On August 31, 2017, the Astros selected Maybin off waivers from the Angels (good timing on Maybin’s part, amirite?) In 21 games down the stretch Maybin went 11-for-59 with a double, a triple, four homers, and 13 RBI. He scored six times, drove 13 in, drew three walks and struck out 16 times. He also stole four bases, getting caught three times. On September 5, he turned in his highest WPA of his time with Houston in a 3-1 Houston win over the Seattle Mariners. Batting ninth, Maybin drew a walk in the third and hit a one-out, two-run homer for a 3-1 lead in the seventh. On September 26, he hit a triple and a home run with three RBI in a 14-3 win against the Texas Rangers.

Maybin didn’t have a huge chuck o’playing time in Houston’s charge to the 2017 World Series Championship, but he went one-for-three with a walk in four plate appearances in two games against the New York Yankees in the ALCS. After the World Series, Maybin was granted free agency.

Maybin went on to play with the Miami Marlins (99 games, .251/.338/.343), the Seattle Mariners (30 games, .242/.289/.319), the Yankees (82 games, .285/.364/.494), the Tigers for a third time (14 games, .244/.311/.415), the Chicago Cubs (18 games, 250/.304/.365) and the New York Mets (nine games, .036/.182/.036).

727. Rick Ankiel is a six-foot-one left-handed baseball player from Fort Pierce, FL. Born on July 19, 1979, he was a second-round choice in 1997 by the St. Louis Cardinals out of Port St. Lucie HS.

Ankiel started his MLB career as a pitcher, who inexplicably came down with one of the most public instances of the Yips I think I’ve ever seen. He started his career with St. Louis going 11-8 with a 3.46 ERA in 208 innings through his first two seasons with a 1.284 WHIP, 10.1 K/9, and a 135 ERA+. Then, with no rhyme or reason, allowed 16 baserunners in four postseason innings, 11 by walk, and threw five wild pitches for good measure. When Ankiel returned in 2001, he pitched a little better, but not enough to continue as a pitcher, with 25 walks and 27 strikeouts in 24 innings.

Ankiel then embarked on one of the most unprecedented comeback stories in major league history. Wiped out completely as a pitcher, Ankiel rebranded as a hitter, and played well enough in several seasons of minor league preparation to re-debut with the Cardinals in 2007 as an outfielder.

Ankiel hit the comeback trail with St. Louis (342 games, .251/.311/.452), later playing with the Kansas City Royals (27 games, .261/.317/.467), the Atlanta Braves (47 games, .210/.324/.328) and the Washington Nationals (190 games, .236/.292/.377).

During the leadup to Spring Training in 2013, the Astros took a flyer on Ankiel, and started the season with him as part of the Opening Day roster. In his very first plate appearance, as a pinch-hitter in the sixth inning on March 31, he hit a three-run homer to give the Astros a 7-2 lead over the Texas Rangers. Houston eventually won, 8-2. On April 12, he hit a single and a double with three RBI in a 5-0 victory over the Los Angeles Angels. Ankiel played a total of 25 games with Houston, hitting .194/.231/.484 with five home runs, 11 RBI, three walks and 25 strikeouts in 65 plate appearances.

Houston released Ankiel on May 9, and a month later he joined the New York Mets (20 games, .182/.239/.364).

726. José Uribe is a five-foot-10 switch-hitting shortstop from San Cristobal, DR. Born on January 21, 1959, he started his professional baseball career with the St. Louis Cardinals Class-A team in 1981, at the age of 22. He reached the majors with the Cards in 1984, and went four-for-19 in eight games. In 1985 he joined the Giants, where he was their starter as shortstop for several seasons.

With the Giants, Uribe appeared in 985 games and slashed .241/.299/.316 with 19 home runs and 213 RBI. San Francisco granted his free agency after the 1992 season, and the Astros signed him during the offseason. He stayed on Houston’s active roster for pretty much the entire season, only missing a couple weeks in September. He appeared in 45 games, racking up a total of 66 plate appearances. He was 13-for-53 with eight walks, a double and three RBI. He stole one base without getting caught , and struck out only five times. Defensively, Uribe made five errors in 165 23 innings at shortstop. He was granted free agency following the season. Uribe also gained a little infamy when his baseball card started selling for top dollar.

Uribe was killed way too soon at the age of 47 in a car accident near his hometown, on December 8, 2006. SABR Bio

725. Bob Watkins is a six-foot-one right-handed pitcher from San Francisco, CA. Born on March 12, 1948, he was Houston’s second-round pick in 1966 out of Compton HS. He joined the Bismarck-Mandan Pards at the Low-A level, and went 0-5 with a 4.42 ERA in 55 innings.

By 1968, Watkins split his year between the Oklahoma City 89ers and the Dallas-Fort Worth Spurs, with 186 strikeouts in 166 innings and a 3.80 ERA. In 1969, he pitched to a 6.29 ERA with the 89ers. In September, he joined the Astros for the first time.

Watkins pitched a hitless ninth inning in his first game, striking out one batter in a 7-6 loss to the San Francisco Giants on September 6. Ten days later, in his second appearance, he struck out a pair over two hitless innings in an eventual 8-1 loss to the San Diego Padres. His next two games weren’t quite as great for him, although he did finish the season on a high note. On September 26, he limited the Reds to one run over 5 13 innings, striking out four batters in an eventual 3-0 loss to Cincinnati. Watkins played another two seasons in Houston

724. Josh Anderson is a six-foot-two right-handed throwing lefty batting outfielder from Somerset, KY. Born on August 10, 1982, he was selected in the fourth round of the 2003 draft out of Eastern Kentucky University. Guy was fast. In 2004, between the Single-A Lexington Legends and the High-A Salem Avalanche he stole 79 bases in 92 attempts over 139 games, hitting .298/.362/.403 with six home runs and 52 RBI. In seven minor league seasons in total, he stole 292 in 363 opportunities.

In 2007, Anderson reached the major leagues with the Astros. On September 16, he had a game for the ages, going five-for-five with two runs scored and three RBI in a 15-3 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. It wasn’t really an isolated incident as far as his September with the club, as it came right in the middle of a nine-game hitting streak during which Anderson was 19-for-41. Overall, he was 24-for-67 with 10 runs scored, three doubles and 11 RBI.

After the season, the Astros traded Anderson to the Atlanta Braves for Oscar Villarreal. Anderson enjoyed two more seasons in the majors. After playing for the Braves (40 games, .294/.338/.426) he joined the Detroit Tigers (74 games, .242/.282/.315) and the Kansas City Royals (44 games, .237/.268/.288).

723. Remember one player ago when I said that Josh Anderson was fast? Yeah. Kenny Lofton was faster. He stole 622 bases over a 17-season major league career, in 782 attempts. He led the American League in stolen bases each season from 1992 through 1996, leading the entire majors three times during that span. He also made the All-Star Team in six straight seasons from 1994 through 1999, all with Cleveland.

But Lofton didn’t start with the Indians. He’s a six-foot-even left-handed centerfielder from East Chicago, IN. Born on May 31, 1967, Lofton was initially drafted by the Astros in 1988, in the 17th round out of the University of Arizona. In 1991 he got to the majors with Houston.

Lofton appeared in 20 games for the Astros. In his first major league game, on September 14, Lofton went three-for-four with a double and a walk in a 7-3 win over the Cincinnati Reds. Overall, he was 15-for-74 with a double and nine runs scored. He drew five walks and struck out 19 times, also stealing two bases in three attempts.

After Lofton’s first exposure to the majors, the Astros sent him along with Dave Rohde to the Cleveland Indians for Willie Blair and Ed Taubensee. I think we lost that one. After his time with Cleveland (1276 games, .300/.375/.426), he played with the Atlanta Braves (122 games, .333/.409/.428), the Chicago White Sox (93 games, .259/.348/.418), the San Francisco Giants (46 games, .267/.353/.406), the Pittsburgh Pirates (84 games, /277/.333/.437), the Chicago Cubs (56 games, .327/.381/.471), the New York Yankees (83 games, .275/.346/.395), the Philadelphia Phillies (110 games, .335/.392/.420), the Los Angeles Dodgers (129 games, .301/.360/.403) and the Texas Rangers (84 games, .303/.380/.438). SABR Bio

722. John Anderson, a six-foot-one, 190 lb. right-handed pitcher from St. Paul, Minnesota, was born on November 23, 1929. Although he appeared with the 1962 Houston Colt .45s in 10 of his 24 major league contests, he was an eventual 16-season professional baseball veteran who pitched 2119 minor league innings.

Prior to his appearances with the Colts, Anderson pitched with the Philadelphia Phillies (16 innings, 7.88), the Baltimore Orioles (4 23 innings, 13.50) and the St. Louis Cardinals (24 innings, 4.13). On May 7, 1962, the Cards sent Anderson with Carl Warwick to Houston fro Bobby Shantz.

Anderson pitched 24 innings in total for Houston, striking out nine and walking six. He allowed 13 runs (11 earned) on 30 hits. Although he only surrendered one home run, opponents did bat a composite .338/.363/.429 over 81 plate appearances. Although it was Anderson’s last time in the majors, he did continue playing in the minors until 1967 with the Amarillo Sonics, Houston’s Double-A affiliate in 1967.

721. Jandel Gustave is a six-foot-three right-handed pitcher from Pimentel, DR. Born on October 12, 1992, he made his professional baseball debut in the Dominican Summer League in 2010, with the local Astros affiliate.

In 2013, with the rookie-level Greeneville Astros, Gustave pitched to a 2.68 ERA in 10 games, with a 1.397 WHIP and 10.1 K/9. In 2016, he reached the majors for three games in August, then returned to appear in another 11 through the end of the season. On August 13, he pitched two scoreless innings, striking out a pair in a 4-2 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays. On September 5, he pitched a perfect ninth in a non-save situation to preserve a 6-2 win over the Cleveland Indians.

In 14 games in total, Gustave struck out 16 in 15 13 innings, and gave up six runs on 13 hits and four walks for a 1.109 WHIP and a 114 ERA+. He opened the 2017 season back on the parent club roster, pitching in six April contests. He walked seven in five innings, striking out pair and giving up four runs. He went on the DL later in the month, and underwent Tommy John surgery in June. after not getting back to live baseball, he was granted free agency after the 2018 season.

Gustave later played for the San Francisco Giants (24 13 IP, 14 K, 2.96 ERA) and the Milwaukee Brewers (41 games, 46 13 IP, 40 K, 3.69 ERA).

720. JB Shuck is a five-foot-11 outfielder from Westerville, OH. Born on June 18, 1987, Shuck was a sixth-round selection in 2008 by the Astros out of The Ohio State University. Although he stole 62 bases in his first four minor league seasons, he was also caught 38 times, a 62 percent success rate that indicates he maybe shouldn’t have tried so many times. In 2011, he joined the Astros in August.

Shuck appeared in 37 of Houston’s final 51 games, including four multiple hit efforts. On September 13, he hit three singles in a 5-2 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies. On September 23, he hit two singles, drew a walk, and added a triple, scoring three times in a 11-2 victory over the Colorado Rockies. He was granted free agency following the next season, during which Shuck didn’t play at the major league level.

Shuck later played for the Los Angeles Angels (151 games, .273/.309/.347), the Cleveland Indians (16 games, .077/.077/.077), the Chicago White Sox (159 games, .229/.285/.319), the Miami Marlins (70 games, .192/.255/.231) and the Pittsburgh Pirates (27 games, .213/.339/.255).

719. Brian Bixler is a six-foot-one utility player from Sandusky, OH. Born on October 22, 1982, he was a second-round pick in 2004 by the Pittsburgh Pirates out of Eastern Michigan University. Eventually, Bixler reached the big leagues with the Bucs in 2008, (68 games, .178/.238/.237) playing in parts of two seasons. He later reached the show with the Washington Nationals in 2011 (79 games, .205/.267/.265).

After the 2011 season, the Astros claimed Bixler off waivers from the Nats. He opened the season on Houston’s parent club active roster, and appeared in six games in April, collecting one hit in eight plate appearances. After a month back in Houston’s Triple-A level with the Oklahoma City 89ers, Bixler rejoined the Astros on June 8.

Bixler appeared in 30 of Houston’s next 45 games, On June 18, he collected three hits, including a double and a home run with three RBI in a 9-7 win against the Kansas City Royals. In total, Bixler played in 36 games, going 17-for-88 with six doubles, two home runs, and seven RBI. He stole three bases without getting caught, and drew seven walks against 36 strikeouts. Granted free agency following the season, Bixler has not returned to the majors.

718. Parker Mushinski is a six-foot left-handed pitcher from Arlington, TX. Born on November 22, 1995, he was Houston’s seventh-round choice in 2017 out of Texas Tech University. In 2022, he pitched to a 2.66 ERA with the Sugar Land Space Cowboys in 40 23 innings, with a 1.156 WHIP and a 9.1 K/9. His utility led to him joining the Astros parent unit four times through the season, appearing in seven games.

Mushinski was pretty good. On May 4, he pitched two perfect innings, striking out three in a 7-2 win against the Seattle Mariners. In 2023, he spent some of the season with Sugar Land and also made it back to the Astros on three separate occasions.

On July 24, he struck out three in 1 13 perfect innings in a 10-9 win against the Texas Rangers. In 21 total appearances with Houston over two seasons, Mushinski has 23 strikeouts in 22 innings, against seven walks. He has allowed 12 runs on 24 hits, and pitched to a 5.71 FIP and a 1.409 WHIP.

Parker Mushinski was two batters faced from being number 496 on our list instead of 718, with 99 total BF in his time with the team thus far. He remains on Houston’s 40-man roster.

717. Don Buddin was a five-foot-11 right-handed shortstop from Turbeville, SC. Born on May 5, 1934, Buddin got to the majors for the first time in 1956 with the Boston Red Sox. In 640 games over five seasons (interrupted by the military in 1957, Buddin hit .244/.359/.364 with 39 homers and 211 RBI. In the offseason following 1961, the Red Sox traded Buddin to the brand-new Houston Colt .45s for Eddie Bressoud.

Buddin appeared in 40 of Houston’s first 92 games. He actually started the season as the Colts first-ever shortstop, starting their first 10 games. During that run he was only four-for-25 with one homer and three RBI, although he did draw eight walks versus only six strikeouts, nevertheless he was relegated to the occasional start following, along with pinch-hitting opportunities and late-inning defensive replacementism.

Buddin only had one multiple hit game with the Astros, but he did hit a grand slam on June 10 in a 9-7 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Overall, in 40 games, Buddin had exactly 100 plate appearances, and was 13-for-80 with 17 walks and 17 strikeouts. He hit four doubles, a triple, and two home runs with 10 RBI. On July 20, the Detroit Tigers purchased his contract.

Buddin appeared in 31 games for Detroit through the rest of the season, hitting .229/.385/.265). It was the last time he was in the major leagues. SABR Bio

716. Jackie Brandt is the first player in this bracket who posted above-replacement level value during his time with the Astros. A five-foot-11 right-handed outfielder from Omaha, NE, Brandt began his major league career in 1956 with the St. Louis Cardinals (27 games, .286/.362/.429), and later also played for the New York/San Francisco Giants (253 games, .281/.327/.435), the Baltimore Orioles (802 games, .258/.323/.415) and the Philadelphia Philies (98 games, .235/.297/.301).

On June 9, 1967, Brandt’s contract was purchased by Houston from the Phils. He then appeared in 41 of Houston’s next 84 games. On July 9, he hit two singles and a triple with three RBI in a 6-0 win against the Chicago Cubs. On July 20, he hit a double and a home run with four RBI in a 7-0 win against the New York Mets.

In total, Brandt went 21-for-89 with four doubles, a triple and a homer with 15 RBI for the Astros. He drew eight walks and struck out nine times. The Astros released Brandt on September 9. It would be Brandt’s last time in the major leagues, but 1221 games over 11 seasons is still pretty good, right?

That’s it for your Saturday. Join us again tomorrow for another 13 players in our offseason-long Everystros Countdown.

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