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Everystros Countdown: Chapter XXX

Welcome to the 30th chapter in our 121-chapter-long series.

Josh Zeid
| Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Welcome to the 30th chapter of the Everystros Countdown.

We’re still in the fourth bracket of Astros, which consists of players who totaled between 101 and 500 BF/PA with Houston. Today’s group has between 122 and 478, and landed between negative-0.0025 and negative-0.0023 bWAR per BF/PA with the team.


576. Gil Rondon is a six-foot-two right-handed pitcher from Bronx, NY. Born on November 18, 1953, he was a 14th-round choice in 1972 by the Texas Rangers out of DeWitt Clinton HS. After not signing, he was taken in the third-round in 1973 by the Baltimore Orioles. Before getting to the majors, he was released by Baltimore, later signing a contract with the California Angels. After the 1975 season, the Astros drafted Rondon from the Angels with a rule 5 pick.

Rondon appeared only at Houston’s parent-level club through the 1976 season, going 2-2 with a 5.70 ERA in 53 23 innings. He started seven times out of 19 appearances overall, and struck out 21 batters. He also gave up 37 runs (34 earned) on 70 hits and 39 walks, finishing with a 2.031 WHIP. Rondon pitched with an aLi of 0.73 On June 6, he earned a victory over the Cubs, giving up one run in 6 13 innings on six hits and two walks in a 5-1 win over Chicago.

After the 1977 season, the Yankees reacquired Rondon via the minor league draft. He later got back to the majors with the Chicago White Sox in 1979, with a 1.759 WHIP and a 3.72 ERA. After his playing career, Rondon was a coach for Puerto Rico during the 2009 World Baseball Classic. He has since coached in the Mexican League and the Frontier League.

575. Paul Clemens is a six-foot-three right-handed pitcher from Columbia, SC. Born on February 14, 1988, he was a 36th-round choice of the San Francisco Giants in 2007 out of Louisburg College. He didn’t sign right away, and it paid off a year later with a seventh-round pick by the Atlanta Braves.

After four seasons in the Braves system, Clemens was traded by Juan Abreu, Brett Oberholtzer and Jordan Schafer to the Astros for Michael Bourn. In 2013, Clemens graduated to the majors. On May 27, he struck out two over a scoreless 12th and earned the win in a 3-2 victory over the Colorado Rockies. Two days later, he pitched 1 23 scoreless innings and earned another victory over the Rockies, 6-3. On August 27, he pitched a Quality Start, holding the White Sox to one run on four hits in an eventual 4-3 loss to Chicago.

In 35 games for Houston, including five starts, Clemens struck out 49 in 73 13 innings of work. He allowed 48 runs in total (44 earned), on 82 hits and 26 walks for a 1.473 WHIP, a 5.40 ERA, and a 4-7 record. In 13 games in 2014, he was 0-1 with a 5.84 ERA and a 1.662 WHIP. On June 1, he had his best results of the season when he struck out three over two perfect innings in a 9-4 loss to the Baltimore Orioles.

Clemens signed with the Philadelphia Phillies after the 2014 season, and later also signed with the Kansas City Royals, making it back to the majors with neither of them. After the 2015 season, the Miami Marlins signed him through free agency.

Clemens started two games for the Marlins, going 1-0 with a 6.30 ERA in 10 total innings. Later in the season, he was 3-5 with a 3.67 ERA in 16 games for the San Diego Padres. Although Clemens continued to play baseball, his time in the majors was at an end.

574. Jerry Johnson was a six-foot-three right-handed pitcher from Miami, FL. Borno on December 3, 1943, he got his start in the majors in 1968 with the Philadelphia Phillies, going 4-4 with a 3.24 ERA over 16 appearances, including 11 starts.

Before making his way to the Astros, Johnson played for the St. Louis Cardinals (2-0, one save, 3.18, 11 13 IP), the San Francisco Giants (23-19, 29 saves, 3.74, 247 23 IP), and the Cleveland Indians (5-6, five saves, 6.18, 59 23 IP). After the close of the 1973 campaign, Johnson was traded by Cleveland to the Astros for Cecil Upshaw.

Johnson opened his 1974 season in Houston’s bullpen, appearing in 26 games before the All-Star break. On May 8, he put up a season’s best WPA of .569 when he came in to pitch the 10th and 11th innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates. He inherited runners on the corners with nobody out, and stranded all of them before pitching a hitless and scoreless 11th in an eventual 8-6 Houston victory.

Johnson spent July and August that season with the Triple-A Denver Bears before returning to Houston for the stretch run. The eight games he pitched to close out Houston’s season brought his year’s total to 34 major league games pitched. He was 2-1 with a 4.80 ERA and 32 K’s in 45 innings. He gave up 26 runs (24 earned) on 47 hits and 24 walks for a 1.578 WHIP. After the season, Houston released him.

Johnson later played in the majors for the San Diego Padres (4-4, 5.23, 93 IP) and the Toronto Blue Jays (2-4, five saves, 4.60, 86 IP). Johnson passed away in 2021.

573. Tom Dukes is a six-foot-two right-handed pitcher from Knoxville, TN. Born on August 31, 1942, Dukes started his professional career in 1960 with the New York Yankees at their D-level Florida State League affiliate, the St. Petersburg Saints, going 0-7 in 12 games with a 5.40 ERA. Before reaching the majors he was traded to the Milwaukee Braves in 1965, then traded by the Braves to the Astros after the 1966 season. He came to Houston with Lee Bales and Dan Schneider for John Hoffman, Gene Ratliff, and minor leaguer Ed Pacheco.

In mid-August, 1967, Dukes made his major league appearance with the Astros, pitching the 11th inning of an eventual 2-1 win against the Los Angeles Dodgers on August 15. On August 18, he struck out four over three shutout innings, allowing only a hit in a 5-3 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. On August 26, he struck out five over three innings, allowing one run in a 6-1 loss to the Cincinnati Reds.

Dukes was 0-2 with a 5.32 ERA in 17 games for Houston, with 23 strikeouts in 23 23 innings. He allowed 14 runs on 11 walks and 25 hits, with a 1.521 WHIP and a 3.34 FIP.

In 1968, Dukes played most of the season with the Astros, including most of April and from June through the end of the campaign. He was a medium-leverage reliever for the most part, pitching with an aLi of 0.92, On July 7, he pitched 2 13 scoreless innings, stranding three inherited runners and earning a save in a 5-4 victory over the Atlanta Braves. On August 16, he struck out three over 1 23 hitless innings, and earned a victory in a 3-1, 12-inning victory against the New York Mets. On September 2, he pitched two innings in each half of a doubleheader, holding the Pirates scoreless despite Houston losing both contests.

Dukes played in 43 games in total, all in relief and totaling four saves to go with a 2-2 record. He struck out 37 in 52 23 innings and giving up 31 runs (25 earned) on 62 hits and 28 walks for a 1.709 WHIP.

After the 1968 season, the San Diego Padres chose Dukes in the expansion draft. After two seasons with the Padres (2-6, 11 saves, 4.83, 91 13 IP), he also played with the Baltimore Orioles (1-5, four saves, 3.52, 38 13 IP) and the California Angels (0-1, one save, 1.64, 11 IP).

572. José Valdéz is a six-foot-four right-handed pitcher from Santo Domingo, DR. Born on January 22, 1983, he got his start in the New York Yankees farm system between their Rookie-level GCL Yankees and the Low-A Staten Island Yankees in 2002. In 12 games between the two affiliates, he was 2-7 with a 4.03 ERA and 49 strikeouts in 60 13 innings.

After eight seasons in the Yankees system, Valdéz was granted free agency, then signed on with the Astros after the 2009 season. In 2010, he pitched 13 minor league games between the GCL Astros and the Corpus Christi Hooks and ended with a 1.10 ERA, a 0.673 WHIP, and 8.3 K/9.

In 2011, Valdéz reached the majors with the Astros, and pitched in 12 games. In his first appearance, on April 17, he struck out a pair in a hitless and scoreless inning in an 8-6 loss to the San Diego Padres. In 14 innings of work, he allowed 14 runs, all earned, on 17 hits and seven walks, striking out 15.

The 2012 campaign would see Valdéz spend the entire season in the minors, then join Houston in the majors in September. On September 11, he struck out a pair over a perfect eighth inning in a 1-0 win over the Chicago Cubs. He appeared in a dozen games in total, again all in relief, and posted a 2.25 ERA while striking out 10 in 12 innings. It was Valdéz’ final season in the big leagues.

571. Jim Dougherty is a six-foot right-handed pitcher from Brentwood, NY. Born on March 8, 1968, he was Houston’s 26th-round selection in 1990 out of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In 1995, he made his major league debut for Houston. In his second-ever appearance, on April 29, he pitched two perfect innings in a 2-1 loss to the Colorado Rockies. On July 8, he pitched in a doubleheader sweep of the San Diego Padres twice, striking two out on over 3 23 scoreless innings.

Dougherty pitched in 56 games during his rookie season, which represents the lion’s share of his time in the majors. He was 8-4 with a 4.92 ERA, with 49 strikeouts in 67 23 innings. He gave up 37 runs, all earned, on 76 hits and 25 walks for a 1.493 WHIP.

In 1996, Dougherty pitched in another dozen games for Houston, totaling 13 innings of work. He was 0-2 with an even 9.00 ERA, and gave up 14 runs (13 earned) on 14 hits and 11 walks for a 1.923 WHIP. The Astros released him before 1997 Spring Training.

Dougherty pitched again in the majors, in 1998 with the Oakland Athletics (0-2, 8.25, 12 IP) and in 1999 with the Pittsburgh Pirates ((0-0, 9.00, two IP).

570. Craig Shipley is a six-foot right-handed infielder from Parramatta, Australia. Born on January 7, 1963, he made his major league debut in 1986 with the Los Angeles Dodgers. After two seasons with the Dodgers (38 games, .194/.231/.226, six RBI), he also appeared with the New York Mets (four games, one-for-seven) and the San Diego Padres (275 games, .278/.308/.378, nine home runs, 65 RBI, 19 stolen bases).

On December 28, 1994, Shipley was part of a 12-player deal between Houston and San Diego. We lost Ken Caminiti and Steve Finley, amongst others, and gained Phil Plantier, Derek Bell, Shipley, and others.

Shipley spent the whole season with the Astros at the parent-club level, appearing in 92 games. He had multiple hits in 11 of them, including on May 4, when he was three-for-three with a double and an RBI in a 6-4 win over the St. Louis Cardinals. On August 21, he had three hits, including a double in a 5-4 loss to the Atlanta Braves.

Shipley hit .263/.291/.345 for Houston that season, with eight doubles, one triple and three home runs. He drew eight walks, scored 23 runs, and drove 24 in, stealing six bases in seven attempts. Defensively, he played mostly at third base, fielding at a .982 clip in 387 23 innings. He also played 69 innings at shortstop (.971), 21 innings at second base without an error, and one frame at first base.

After the 1995 season, the Astros granted Shipley free agency. He returned to the Padres for two seasons (96 games, .290/.318/.429, six homers, 26 RBI, eight stolen bases) and one season with the Anaheim Angels (77 games, .259/.304/.361, two homers, 17 RBI. SABR Bio

569. Chris Snyder is a six-foot-four right-handed catcher from Houston, TX. Born on February 12, 1981, he was a 43rd-round draft choice of the Seattle Mariners out of high school. Instead of signing with the M’s, he went to the University of Houston, and the Arizona Diamondbacks ended up choosing him in the second round in 2002. By 2004 he was playing in the majors with Arizona.

Snyder played parts of seven seasons with the Diamondbacks (556 games, .233/.335/.402, 62 home runs, 240 RBI), then played a year-and-a-half for the Pittsburgh Pirates (74 games, .214/.317/.341, eight homers, 33 RBI. Preceding the 2012 season, the Astros signed Snyder through free agency.

Snyder played for Houston for the entire 2012 season at the major league level, appearing in 76 games. On April 25, he drew first base via HBP in the second, reached base on a fielder’s choice and scored in the third, singles in a tie game in the fifth, then signaled the go-ahead run in the seventh for a 5-4 lead, in an eventual 7-5 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers.

Snyder hit .176/.295/.308 with eight doubles and seven home runs. He drew 33 walks and scored 23 times, driving 24 in. He struck out 70 times. Defensively, Snyder caught 591 innings for Houston, with three errors for a .994 fielding percentage. He caught 22 percent of runners trying to steal, good for an 82 CS+ (patent pending).

After leaving Houston via free agency, Snyder caught on with the Baltimore Orioles in 2013, going two-for-20 in nine games at the major league level.

568. Carl Nichols is a six-foot right-handed catcher and rightfielder from Los Angeles, CA. Born on October 14, 1962, he was a fourth-round choice of the Baltimore Orioles in 1980 out of Compton HS. He reached the bigs with Baltimore six seasons later, and played in 36 games for the Orioles over parts of three seasons (.233/.278/.260, four RBI).

Just before the 1989 season, the Orioles traded Nichols to the Astros for Dave Johnson and minor leaguer Vic Hithe. Nichols didn’t join Houston in the majors until September, then got into eight games through the end of the season. In his final game, he got his first hit, driving one run in as the Cincinnati Reds topped Houston, 4-3.

The 1990 season would see Nichols play in a career-high 32 games in the majors, starting on July 12. On July 14, he had his first three-hit game, hittiing two doubles and driving two runs in but the Philadelphia Phillies defeated the Astros, 12-8. On September 20, Nichols hit a pinch-hit, two-out bottom-of-the-ninth-walk-off-single, driving two runs home in a come-from-behind 3-2 victory against the Cincinnati Reds.

In 1991, Nichols played in another 20 major league games for the Astros. On June 16, he hit a pair of singles in a 5-4 win against the New York Mets. The 20 games were the last he’d see at the major league level.

In 60 games in total for Houston, Nichols went 21-for-113 with six doubles, 13 walks, 10 runs, and 14 RBI, with 31 strikeouts. He finished with a .186/.271/.239 slashline.

567. Josh Zeid is a six-foot-four right-handed pitcher from Hew Haven, CT. Born on March 24, 1987, he was a 10th-round choice of the Philadelphia Phillies out of Tulane University in 2009.

At the 2011 trade deadline, Zeid was included in a five-player deal between the Phillies and Houston, where we also gained Jarred Cosart, Jon Singleton, and PTBNL Domingo Santana for Hunter Pence. Despite the four-for-one deal, I’m pretty sure the Astros lost the trade.

Zeid reached the major leagues with Houston in 2013. On August 16, he pitched 1 13 innings and stranded two inherited runners in a scoreless relief appearance, as Houston defeated the Los Angeles Angels 8-2. In 25 games in total, all out of the bullpen, Zeid was 0-1 with a 3.90 ERA. He struck out 24 in 27 23 innings, giving up 12 runs (all earned) on 26 hits and 12 walks. He had a 1.373 WHIP and 7.8 K/9.

Zeid pitched another 20 23 innings for the Astros in 2014, over 23 appearances in relief. He struck out 18 and gave up 18 runs (16 earned) on 30 hits and seven walks for a 1.790 WHIP and a 6.97 ERA. After the season, the Detroit TIgers claimed Zeid off waivers from Houston.

At the start of the 2018 season, Zeid retired and went into coaching. According to twitter, he’s currently the pitching coach and analyst for San Jacinto College.

566. Jordan Schafer is a six-foot-one left-handed centerfielder from Hammond, IN. Born on September 4, 1986, he was a third-round selection of the Atlanta Braves in 2005 out of Winter Haven HS. He reached the big leagues with the Braves in 2009, hitting .204/.313/.287 in 50 games. After splitting the 2010 season between several Atlanta minor league affiliates, he reached the bigs again for the Braves in 2011. In 52 games he hit .242/.309/.315.

Midway through the 2011 season, Schafer was traded by the Braves with Juan Abreu, Paul Clemens, and Brett Oberholtzer to the Astros for Michael Bourn and cash. On August 22, he made his first appearance for the Astros, going 0-for-4. He followed that up with a three-game multiple-hit streak, going six-for-13 with a solo home run in a pair of losses to the Colorado Rockies and a 3-1 win against the San Francisco Giants.

From August 28 through September 5, Schafer had a seven-game hitting streak, going nine-for-27 with three RBI over the span. In 30 games for the Astros, Schafer hit .245/.314/.311 with one home run and six RBI. Defensively, he fielded at a perfect clip in 232 innings.

In 2012, Schafer was Houston’s number one centerfielder, according to the depth chart. Somehow, his 40 runs scored ranked fourth on the team, while his 27 stolen bases ranked him second to Jose Altuve (both stole at a 75 percent success rate). Schafer hit .211/.297/.294 in 106 games, going 66-for-313 with 10 doubles, two triples and four home runs. He drew 36 walks and drove 23 runs home, striking out 106 times.

Through the season, Schafer had 14 multiple-hit games. including three+ hits on four occasions. On May 9, he hit two singles and two doubles in a 5-3, 12-inning loss to the Miami Marlins. Over the course of the season, he made only two errors in the outfield over 692 23 innings for a .989 fielding percentage.

After the 2012 season, the Braves reacquired Schafer from Houston by claiming hsim off waivers. He played another season-and-a-half with Atlanta, playing in a total of 259 games between his two runs with the team, hitting .224/.311/.307 with six home runs and 38 RBI. He later also played for the Minnesota Twins (68 games, .261/.313/.327, one home run, 18 RBI.

565. Mark Knudson is a six-foot-five right-handed pitcher from Denver, CO. Born on October 28, 1960, he was a third-round choice of the Astros out of Colorado State University in 1982. He made relatively quick work of Houston’s minor league system, pitching well enough at every stop to make it a necessity to promote him on to the next.

In 1985, Knudson reached the Astros proper, and started a pair of games in July. He lost both, allowing 11 runs in 11 innings, on 21 hits and three walks, although he did strike out four batters.

In 1986, Knudson reached the Astros for the second time, starting on June 21 against San Francisco. He had himself a Quality Start, holding the Giants to two runs over seven frames, on eight hits and three walks, again striking out four. In nine games for the Astros, including seven starts, he was 1-5 with a 4.22 ERA and 20 K’s. In 42 23 innings pitched, he gave up 23 runs (20 earned) on 48 hits and 15 walks for a 1.477 WHIP. On August 15, Houston traded him with Don August to the Milwaukee Brewers for Danny Darwin. Yeah I think we may have won that one.

Knudson played six seasons for the Brewers, suggesting that they also won the trade in the rare win-win situation. He was 23-22 with a 4.43 ERA and 168 K’s in 422 23 innings. In 1993, he played 5 23 innings for the Colorado Rockies but surrendered 14 runs with a 3.706 WHIP. It was his last major league experience.

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