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Seager named World Series MVP, becomes 4th player to win it twice
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Utility IF/OF Orlando Merced (57) joined the Astros for the last part of his career, appearing in 340 games for them and hitting .262/.323/.417 with 15 jacks and 85 RBI.
Everystros Countdown Chapter IX
Today’s feature is focused on another 15 players between 21 and 100 PA/BF during their time with Houston. We’re covering players who ended up between negative-.0105 and negative-.0091 bWAR per PA/BF.
855. Gene Freese was a five-foot-11, 175 lb. second and third baseman from Wheeling, WV. He got his start in the majors with the 1955 Pittsburgh Pirates, joining the St. Louis Cardinals in 1958, the Philadelphia Phillies in 1959, the Chicago White Sox in 1960, the Cincinnati Reds in 1961, the Pirates again in 1964, and the White Sox again in 1965. On July 20, 1966, the White Sox sent Freese to the Astros for Jim Mahoney.
Freese played in 21 of Houston’s final 67 games to close out his season (and career). Over his first six games, all in July, Freese went three-for-12 with a pair of walks. Unfortunately for all involved, Freese was unable to collect another base hit through the rest of the season, going 0-for-21 with three walks and one run.
854. CF Al Heist was a right-handed batting centerfielder from Brooklyn, NY. In 1960 and 1961 he appeared in 160 games for the Chicago Cubs, hitting .260/.338/.390 with eight home runs and 43 RBI. After the 1961 season, the Houston Colt .45s took Heist with the ninth pick in the expansion draft.
Heist appeared in 27 games for the 1962 Colt .45s, registering multiple hits in four of them. He collected 16 hits in 72 at bats, drawing three walks and striking out nine times. Heist hit one double and three RBI for Houston. Already 34-years-old during the season, Heist didn’t appear in the majors again.
853. Mike Easler is a lefty-batting righty-throwing leftfielder from Cleveland, OH. In 1969, the Astros took him in round number 14 of the draft. He hit .319 in 33 games at their rookie-level that season after his selection.
Easler then moved up at a more-or-less average rate, making his first appearance in the majors in 1973. He managed two walks in nine plate appearances over six games, with one run and four strikeouts. A much bigger sample in 1974 yielded similar results, with a one-for-15 season at the plate with five strikeouts. He made five more plate appearances in 1975 for Houston, going 0-for-5 with one strikeout. On June 25, 1975, the Astros traded Easler to the St. Louis Cardinals for Mike Barlow.
Easler went on to play in the majors for the California Angels, the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Boston Red Sox, the New York Yankees, and the Philadelphia Phillies. In 1981, he represented the Bucs at the All-Star Game, and even earned a few down-ballot MVP votes in 1980, the year he slashed .338/.396/.583 with 21 homers and 74 RBI.
852. Steve Randolph is a left-handed pitcher from Okinawa, Japan. Initially drafted in the 24th round in 1992 by the Cleveland Indians and later in the 10th round of the 1994 draft by the Oakland A’s, he finally found a match after the New York Yankees selected him in the 18th round in 1995 out of the University of Texas.
Randolph finally got to the major leagues in 2003 as part of the Arizona Diamondbacks. In 95 games over two seasons, including six starts, he struck out 112 in 141 2⁄3 innings while allowing a 4.89 ERA and a 1.708 WHIP.
Prior to the 2007 season, the Astros got Randolph through free agency, and put him to work. Four separate callups through the season would see Randolph make a total of 14 appearances as an Astros pitcher, and he struck out 22 in only 13 1⁄3 innings. Yeah. That’s 14.9 K/9, but it was accompanied by nearly as many walks, 17 in fact, along with 21 hits allowed. So the opposing slashline was .362/.507/.724, which takes a bit of the shine off that sparkling K-rate.
851. Todd Self is a six-foot-five left-handed batting outfielder from Shreveport, LA. The Astros chose him in the 15th round, back in 2000 out of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
On his way up through the minors, Self was named to the 2001 Northwest League All-Star Team by hitting .303/.403/.418 with 49 RBI in 73 contests. In 2003, he made the Carolina League All-Star Team when he hit .318/.433/.432 with 57 RBI in 126 games.
In 2005, Self got up to the majors with the Astros, appearing in 21 games between May 12 and June 9. On May 18, he hit a pinch two-run homer in the sixth inning of a 7-6 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Overall, he was nine-for-45 with two doubles and four RBI, along with three walks and nine strikeouts.
850. Keith Drumright, a native of Springfield, MO, was a five-foot-11 left-handed batting second baseman drafted by the Montreal Expos in the 18th round of the 1972 draft out of high school. Four years later, the Chicago Cubs chose him in the fourth round out of the University of Oklahoma.
On October 13, 1977, prior to making it to the majors. the Cubs sent Drumright to the Astros for Al Javier. In September 1978, he got to the show and appeared in 17 of Houston’s final 30 games. In his debut on September 1, he drew a walk and scored in the second, hit an RBI-single and scored in the fourth, then singled in the eighth in a 14-11 loss to the Cubs.
Drumright did pretty good in his first three games, going five-for-12, and went four-for-13 in his final four games. The 10 games in between he was 0-for-30 with two walks and a run. He didn’t make it back to the Astros at the major league level, then after the 1979 season, Houston sent Drumright to the Kansas City Royals for George Throop.
Drumright later made it back to the majors with the Oakland A’s in 1981, hitting .291 in 31 games. That was the last time he was in the big leagues. In 2010, Drumright ended his life by a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
849. Phil Nevin finds employment now by being a major league manager. In 1992, he was Houston’s first-round pick, the first overall choice in the entire draft out of CSU-Fullerton.
Nevin had a 12-season career and hit .270/.343/.472 in 1217 games between seven major league teams. His time with the Astros was limited to 18 games in 1995. He went seven-for-60 with a double and an RBI, with four runs scored. On August 15, Houston sent Nevin to the Detroit Tigers for Mike Henneman. He later also played with the Anaheim Angels, the San Diego Padres, the Texas Rangers, the Chicago Cubs and the Minnesota Twins.
848. Bligh Madris is a first baseman and right fielder from Las Vegas, NV. In 2017, the Pittsburgh Pirates chose him in the ninth round out of Colorado Mesa University. It was the Pirates for whom Madris made his first appearance in the major leagues. In 39 games in 2022 for the Bucs, he hit .177/.244/.265 with one home run and seven RBI.
In September 2022 the Tampa Bay Rays took Madris off waivers, and the Detroit Tigers claimed him off waivers two months later. In January 2023 the Astros purchased Madris’ contract. On June 28, he hit a single and a double, scoring twice in a 10-7 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. In 12 games between June and July, he went four-for-26 with four walks, four runs, and a double.
847. Alex Diaz is a switch-hitting outfielder from Brooklyn, NY. He initially signed through free agency with his hometown New York Mets. Five years later he made his major league debut with the Milwaukee Brewers. After three years with Milwaukee (133 games, .264/.288/.355), he played two years with the Seattle Mariners (141 games, .246/.283/.327), one season with the Texas Rangers (28 games, .222/.268/.333), and a year with the San Francisco Giants (34 games. .129/.161/.290).
Prior to 1999 Spring Training, Diaz signed with the Astros through free agency. He played in 30 games through the first half of the season. On May 9, he came into the seventh inning as a defensive replacement. In the bottom of the inning he hit a leadoff single, then another in the bottom of the ninth for a season-best .267 WPA, but the Astros still lost, 4-2 to the Montreal Expos. Overall, he went 11-for-50 with one homer and seven RBI while with the team, with three walks and 13 strikeouts.
846. Bobby Fenwick is a five-foot-nine middle infielder from Naha, Japan. Drafted in the 27th round by the Chicago White Sox in 1966, he signed with the San Francisco Giants after getting taken by them in the first round in 1967.
Fenwick didn’t get to the majors with the Giants. After the 1971 minor league season, the Astros took him in the rule 5 draft. He appeared in 36 games for Houston at the big league level that year, and collected multiple hits in two of them. Overall, he was nine-for-50 with three doubles and four RBI, drawing three walks and striking out 13 times.
After the 1972 season, the Astros sent Fenwick to the St. Louis Cardinals with Ray Busse for Skip Jutze and Milt Ramirez. After appearing in five games for the birds, they released him. He signed on as a free agent with Houston again, but didn’t graduate back to the majors again.
845. Glenn Vaughan was a left-side infielder from Compton, CA. In 1962 he hit .289 at their Class-B level, in 140 contests. In 1963, he played in another 148 games for the Astros, at their top two minor league affiliates. He also made his first appearances with the Astros, still just 19-years-old.
Vaughan joined the team on September 20, and played in their last nine games of the campaign. He went just five-for-30 with one run, no RBI, two walks, and five strikeouts. Only once did he have a multiple hit game, with a pair of singles in a 10-3 loss to the New York Mets on September 27. Vaughan spent 1964 at Houston’s Triple-A level, hitting .270 in 151 games. That was his last appearance in organized baseball.
844. Conrad Cardinal was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1942, and attended Valley Stream Central HS. He played his first professional ball with the Jamestown Tigers in the D-League in 1962, pitching 183 innings and going 14-7 with a 3.74 ERA. In 1963, he was 9-9 with a 4.26 ERA with the San Antonio Bullets.
Near the start of 1963, Cardinal joined the Astros proper and appeared in relief a few times, also making a start. In his first appearance, he struck out three and allowed one run over three innings, but Houston lost, 7-1 to San Francisco. In his next game, he pitched a Quality Start, striking out three and walking four, allowing two earned runs on four hits over 6 2⁄3 innings in a 7-0 loss to the Giants.
In 13 1⁄3 innings in total, he struck out seven and walked seven, allowing 14 runs, but only nine earned on 15 hits. He finished with a 3.00 FIP. Cardinal spent another two seasons in Houston’s minors, but didn’t get back to the majors again.
843. Jeremy Griffiths is a six-foot-six right-handed pitcher from Fairview, OH. In 1999, the New York Mets made him their third-round selection. Four years later, he got to the majors with them, pitching 41 innings in nine appearances, including six starts. He rocked a 1.854 WHIP and a 4.93 FIP. In the middle of 2004, the Mets traded Griffiths and David Weathers to Houston for Richard Hidalgo.
Griffiths made one start for the Astros on July 3. He pitched 4 1⁄3 innings and allowed five earned runs on four hits and three walks. He struck out five, and got no decision, but the Astros took a 10-8 victory from the Texas Rangers. He spent another season in Houston’s minors.
842. RHP Jordan Jankowski is a six-foot-one, 225 lb. native of McMurray, PA. Houston drafted him in the 34th round in 2008 out of Peters Township HS, then four years later, drafted him in the 34th round again, out of Catawba College.
Jordan came through Houston’s system slowly, spending three seasons at Triple-A before getting to the majors. In 2017, he appeared in three games for Houston, all in relief. In 4 1⁄3 innings, he struck out five and allowed six earned runs on seven hits (including three home runs) and two walks. In 2018, he pitched in the farm for the Los Angeles Angels, but didn’t make it back to the majors.
841. Matt Pagnozzi is a right-handed catcher from Miami, AZ. Another player drafted multiple times, he went in round 40 to the Chicago Cubs in 2001 then the eighth round of the 2003 draft to the St. Louis Cardinals. He eventually reached the majors with them,
After 21 games with the Cardinals in 2009 and 2010, he split 2011 between the Colorado Rockies (seven games) and the Pittsburgh Pirates (five games). He hit .224 with the Triple-A club for the Cleveland Indians in 2012, then spent the 2013 season in the minors for the Atlanta Braves. On September 3, 2013, after most of the season was over, the Astros purchased Pagnozzi’s contract.
Pagnozzi appeared in nine of Houston’s final 25 games, going three-for-21 with one walk, one run scored, and three strikeouts.
Well, there’s another 15 guys. If you’re still counting, that’s 135 down and 840 to go. Tomorrow I trim these articles to 14 players per day, but we’re still on the negative bWAR side of zero, and between 21 and 100 BF/PA.