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Everystros LV

The 55th chapter of Everystros features another nine players from across Houston MLB history.

MLB: JUN 16 Red Sox at Astros
Michael Feliz
Photo by Juan DeLeon/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Everystros LV features nine players that have appeared with the Houston major league ballclub at some point in the last 62 seasons. Today’s group starts with players at negative-1.3 bWAR and works down to negative-0.8.

315. Bo McLaughlin (Bagwell score negative-16.96) is a six-foot-five right-handed pitcher from Oakland, CA. Born on October 23, 1953, he was an 11th-round choice of the Texas Rangers out of high school in 1972. Instead of signing, he commenced his path to higher education at Lipscomb University. In 1975, Houston took him in the first round, 14th overall.

McLaughlin made his debut in the majors with the Astros in 1976, starting in 11-of-17 appearances. After pitching a Quality Start in no-decision in his debut, a 4-3 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on July 20, he pitched a straight-up gem in his second start. On July 25, he went the distance, shutting out the Giants and scattering six hits and a walk over 10 innings in a 1-0 victory over San Francisco. On September 1, he struck out five and pitched a 1-0 shutout against the Philadelphia Phillies.

In hindsight, it’s clear that McLaughlin’s rookie campaign was his career year, although he couldn’t know it at the time. He was 4-5 with a save, a 2.85 ERA and a 3.53 FIP. He struck out 32 and walked 17 in 79 innings, holding the opposition to a .244/.288/.354 slashline while authoring a 1.114 WHIP.

McLaughlin appeared in 46 games for the Astros in 1977, coming into relief in 40 of them. On July 6, he pitched the final two innings of a 14-inning, 2-1 win against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He struck out a pair and held them scoreless on one hit. Overall, he pitched a career-high 84 23 innings and went 4-7 with five saves, with a 4.25 ERA, a 3.68 FIP, a 1.358 WHIP, and a .260/.341/.381 opposing slashline.

In 1978, McLaughlin appeared 11 times in relief and started once for Houston, all between June 20 and July 23. He was 0-1 with two saves and 10 strikeouts in 23 13 innings. He also walked 16 during that time, with a 5.10 ERA, a 5.16 FIP, a ghastly 1.951 WHIP, and a .313/.417/.469 opposing line.

McLaughlin started the 1979 season with the Astros at their major league level, and played in 12 of Houston’s first 43 games, all in relief. On May 9, he pitched the final three innings of a 5-4, 16-inning win over the St. Louis Cardinals, striking out four and allowing only one baserunner on a meaningless single.

McLaughlin went 0-for-32 with 18 strikeouts at the plate during his time with the Astros, with three walks and four sacrifice hits. As a fielder, he made three errors in 51 chances for a .941 fielding percentage. On May 25, 1979, the Astros traded McLaughlin to the Atlanta Braves for Frank LaCorte.

Post-trade, McLaughlin pitched the rest of the season with the Braves (1-1, 4.89, 49 23 IP, 45 K), and later also played for the Oakland Athletics (0-4, 6.15, 60 IP, 30 K). On May 26, 1981, McLaughlin nearly died after Harold Baines lined a 104 MPH drive off his face.

The ball shattered McLaughlin’s left cheekbone, broke his eye socket in five places and fractured his jaw and nose, spinning him around so that he got a full view of the centerfielder before falling on his back. He vomited five dugout towels’ worth of blood and went into shock. “That,” says Jackie Moore, the Oakland third base coach at the time, “was as bad as I’ve ever seen.” — SI Vault

314. J.D. Martinez (Bagwell score negative -15.74) is a six-foot-three right-handed outfielder from Miami, FL. Born on August 21, 1987, he was a 36th-round choice of the Minnesota Twins in 2006 out of high school. Instead of signing, Martinez matriculated to Nova Southeastern University, and was later drafted by the Astros in 2009, in the 20th round.

Martinez reached the majors in 2011 for the Astros, and started in 52 of his 53 games. In 14 of them, he collected multiple hits, and in another nine he had more than one RBI. On August 3, he hit a first-inning two-run home run, a third-inning single, and a seventh-inning two-run double in a 5-4 win against the Cincinnati Reds.

Overall, Martinez slashed out a .274/.319/.423 line, going 57-for-208 with 13 doubles and six home runs. Martinez walked 13 and struck out 48, scoring 29 runs and driving in 35. In 445 13 innings in the outfield, he made one error and five assists for a .990 fielding percentage.

Martinez played in another 113 games for Houston in 2012, and slashed .241/.311/.375, going 95-for-395 with 14 doubles, three triples, and 11 home runs. He drew 40 walks versus 96 strikeouts, scoring 34 runs and collecting 55 RBI. He started 102 times and got more than one hit 25 times, along with 13 multiple-RBI games. Defensively, he played 833 outfield innings and made two errors with nine assists for a .986 fielding percentage.

On May 15, Martinez led off the fifth with a single, then hit a game-tying RBI-single in the ninth to send it to extras against Philadelphia, in an eventual 4-3 loss to the Phillies. On May 23, he hit a two-run come-from-behind triple in the fourth, singled in the sixth, and added an insurance run on a eighth-inning RBI-single in an eventual 5-1 win over the Chicago Cubs. On July 25, he hit an eighth-inning two-run double to take a 3-2 lead over the Reds, but Cincinnati eventually won by a 5-3 final.

In 2013, Martinez hit .250/.272/.378, going 74-for-296 with 17 doubles and seven home runs. He drew 10 walks and struck out 82 times, scoring 24 runs and driving in 36. As a defender he fielded at .981 in 563 23 innings, with two errors and four assists. He started in 76 of his 86 appearances through the year, with 16 multi-hit games and eight multi-RBI games.

On May 24, Martinez hit a fourth-inning single, then hit a tiebreaking three-run homer in the fifth. Thing is, Houston lost a lot of games in those three years, and this one was not an exception. Houston ended up losing this one as well, 6-5 to the Oakland Athletics.

Martinez had his three worst seasons (with the possible exception of 2020) concurrently with the worst three seasons of Houston Astros history. Was that a coincidence? That’s unclear, but Houston decided that he wasn’t good enough to remain on the team, releasing him on March 22, 2014.

Martinez was unemployed for one day. After his time with the Astros, he went on to play with the Detroit Tigers (458 games, .300/.361/.551, 99 home runs, 285 RBI, 2015 All-Star), the Arizona Diamondbacks (62 games, .302/.366/.741, 29 home runs, 65 RBI), the Boston Red Sox (637 games, .292/.363/.526, 130 home runs, 423 RBI, four-time All-Star, 2018 ML-leading 130 RBI, 2021 ML-leading 42 doubles), and the Los Angeles Dodgers (113 games, .271/.321/.572, 33 home runs, 103 RBI, All-Star).

313. Angel Sánchez (Bagwell score negative-23.73) is a six-foot-one right-handed infielder from Humacao, PR. Born on September 20, 1983, he was an 11th-round choice of the Kansas City Royals out of Florencia Garcia High School.

Sánchez reached the majors for the first time in 2006 with the Royals (eight games, .222/.214/.222, one RBI), and also appeared with the Boston Red Sox (one game, 0-for-3). On July 1, 2010, Boston traded him to the Astros for Kevin Cash.

After the trade, Sánchez appeared in 65 games for Houston, starting 61 of them and posting multiple hits 17 times. On August 3, he hit two singles, a double and a triple with six RBI in an 18-4 win against the St. Louis Cardinals. On September 24, he drew a walk and scored in the first, hit an RBI-single in the second and hitting a game-tying RBI-single and scoring in the sixth in a 10-7 win against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Sánchez was 70-for-250 from the plate, with nine doubles and four triples. He drew 11 walks against 45 strikeouts, scored 30 times, and drove in 25. He played 484 innings at shortstop (.976) and 71 innings at second (1.000).

Sánchez stuck around with Houston for the entire 2011 season, appearing in 110 games and going 69-for-288 with 10 doubles and one home run. He drew 27 walks, struck out 44 times, scored 35 runs, and drove in 28, stealing three bases in as many attempts. As a defender, he played 366 23 innings at shortstop (.964), and was perfect in 134 13 innings at second and 73 innings at third.

Sánchez started 63 times in 2011, and finished with multiple-hit games in 14 of them. On April 12, he hit three singles and a double with a pair of RBI in an 11-2 win against the Chicago Cubs. In 2012, he played the entire season at the Triple-A level with the Oklahoma City RedHawks in the Pacific Coast League (.320/.390/.407, five home runs, 45 RBI). On October 4, the Astros granted Sánchez his free agency. He subsequently appeared in one major league game in 2013, with the Chicago White Sox, going 0-for-2.

312. Kirk Saarloos (Bagwell score negative-22.34) is a six-foot right-handed pitcher from Long Beach, CA. Born on May 23, 1979, he was Houston’s third-round choice in the 2001 draft out of California State University at Fullerton.

Saarloos made his major league debut with the Astros in 2002, making 17 turns in the rotation. He was 6-7 with a 6.01 ERA, a 1.488 WHIP, and a 4.68 FIP. In 85 13 innings he struck out 54 and walked 27, giving up 59 runs (57 earned) on 100 hits.

Despite some suboptimal seasonal stats and only three Quality Starts, Saarloos did have a few great moments for Houston through his rookie season. On July 25, he went the distance and struck out six, shutting out the PIttsburgh Pirates on six hits and no walks, 8-0. On August 25, he pitched seven shutout innings, walking two and giving up four hits in an eventual 1-0 win over the Cincinnati Reds.

In 2003, Saarloos spent a lot more of his time coming out of Houston’s bullpen, making 32 relief appearances and only four starts. Used in lower leverage situations (0.59 aLI), he stranded 14-of-18 inherited runners. On September 28, he struck out six in three innings, surrendering only an unearned run on one hit and zero walks in an 8-5 win against the Milwaukee Brewers.

Overall, Saarloos was 2-1 with a 4.93 ERA, a 3.56 FIP, and a 1.459 WHIP. He allowed 31 runs (27 earned) on 55 hits and 17 walks, striking out 43 and holding his opponents to a .281/.346/.429 slash. On April 17, 2004, Houston traded Saarloos to the Oakland Athletics for Chad Harville.

Saarloos spent three years with the A’s (19-17, 4.42, 305 13 IP, 115 K), later joining the Cincinnati Reds (1-5, 7.17, 42 23 IP, 27 K) and returning to Oakland in 2008 (1-0, 5.47, 26 13 IP, 12 K).

311. Dave Borkowski (Bagwell score negative-16.15) is a six-foot-one right-handed pitcher from Detroit, MI. Born on February 7, 1977, he was an 11th-round choice of the Detroit Tigers in 1995 out of Sterling Heights High School.

After three seasons with the Tigers starting in 1999 (8-7, 5.44, 178 23 IP, 139 K), Borkowski spent the 2004 season in the majors with the Baltimore Orioles (3-4, 5.14, 56 IP, 45 K. On December 22, 2005, Borkowski signed with the Astros through free agency.

In 2006, Borkowski pitched 71 innings spread over 40 trips out of the bullpen. Used with a 0.69 aLI, he was used in lower-level situations and allowed six-of-eight inherited runners to cross the plate. On April 25, he pitched from the 10th through the 13th inning of a 4-3, 14-inning win against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He only gave up one hit, and struck out four. On August 15, he was the losing pitcher in an 8-6 loss to the Chicago Cubs, when he pitched the final six-innings of the 18-inning marathon.

In total, opponents hit Borkowski at a .257/.313/.441 clip. He was 3-2 with a 4.69 ERA, a 4.12 FIP, a 1.310 WHIP, and 52 strikeouts in 71 innings.

The 2007 season would see Borkowski appear in a career-high 64 games for the Astros. He finished the season at 5-3 with one save and a 5.15 ERA, a 4.52 FIP, and a 1.535 WHIP while opponents slashed .273/.354/.442 against Borkowski. Again a lower-leverage pitcher, he was used with a 0.84 aLI and allowed 12-of-39 inherited runners to score. On June 12, he pitched the final two innings of a 5-4, 11-inning win against the Oakland Athletics, striking out four against only one hit to earn the win.

In 2008, Borkowski had a pretty concerning .348/.406/.600 opposing slashline, along with a 7.50 ERA, a 6.30 FIP, and a 1.889 WHIP. He struck out 24 over 36 frames, walking 14 and going 0-2 over 26 trips out of the pen. He stranded seven-of-11 inherited runners, and pitched with a 0.64 aLI. Houston granted Borkowski’s free agency following the season.

310. Rafael Ramírez (Bagwell score negative-6.22) is the most prolific player to yet appear in this anthology, playing 612 games over five seasons with the Astros. Ramírez is a six-foot right-handed left-side infielder from San Pedro de Macoris, DR. Born on February 18, 1958, he reached the bigs with the 1980 Atlanta Braves, and spent eight seasons with them (927 games, .263/.298/.345, 37 home runs, 301 RBI, 1984 All-Star).

On December 8, 1987, the Braves sent Ramírez and cash to Houston for Mike Stoker and Ed Whitted. In 1988, he played 1,346 23 innings as Houston’s regular shortstop, appearing in 154 games and starting in 138. He made 23 errors to land on a .965 fielding percentage, which was -13 DRS vs the “average” shortstop. He slashed .276/.298/.378 overall, with 30 doubles, five triples, and six homers with 59 RBI, with 45 multi-hit games. On May 29, he hit a single, a double and a home run, totaling five RBI in a 7-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs. On July 10, he hit a pinch-walkoff RBI-single to send the New York Mets home, 6-5. His full season 97 OPS+ was a career-best.

Ramírez played in 151 games for Houston in 1989, 137 times at shortstop including 123 starts. He again was a well-below-average fielder, going by advanced metrics not available at the time, worth minus-17 DRS with a .945 fielding percentage, thanks to 30 errors, but he balanced that with 31 multiple-hit games.

On May 20, he singled and scored a game-tying run in the third, walked and scored in the seventh, hit a go-ahead solo shot in the eighth, and finished the night off with a walkoff RBI-single to score BIlly Hatcher from second in a 5-4 12-inning win against the Pittsburgh Pirates. On July 7, Ramírez entered in the eighth inning of a game the Astros were trailing, 8-5 to the Montreal Expos as a defensive replacement, then led off the bottom of the inning with a single. With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, he hit a two-run game-tying single to send it to extras, but Zane Smith made quick work in the bottom of the 10th to finish off the Astros. On August 29, Ramírez did nearly all he could in a 10-9 10-inning loss to the Chicago Cubs, totaling seven RBI on three hits, including a double and a home run. Ramírez slashed .246/.283/.324 that year, with 20 doubles, a pair of triples and six home runs with 54 RBI.

In 1990, Ramírez played in 132 Astros games, starting 120 at shortstop including 109 starts. In 1058 innings he made 25 errors for a .953 fielding percentage, again coming in well below the waterline at minus-16 DRS. He had 32 multiple-hit games. On May 5, he singled and scored in the third, singled, stole a base and scored in the seventh, and singled again in the eighth in a 9-5 win against the New York Mets. Overall, he slashed a .261/.299/.330 line with 19 doubles, three triples and two homers with 37 RBI.

In 1991, Ramírez slashed .236/.274/.292 with one home run and 2 RBI. It was the lowest SLG of his career, but on August 2 we all forgave him when he entered as a pinch-hitter for Steve Finley with two runners on and one out, and hit a two-run walk-off double for a 9-8 win off of John Candelaria and the Los Angeles Dodgers. Although it was his age-33 season, Ramírez branched out and increased his utility by appearing at second base (161 13 innings, .978) and third base (two innings, no errors) along with his customary spot at shortstop (268 23 innings, .953).

The 1992 campaign, Ramírez’ last as a player, he played 357 innings at shortstop (.961) along with 1 23 at the hot corner. Along with that, he slashed a .250/.283/.301 line with six doubles, one homer, and 13 RBI in 73 games, including seven multi-hit games and 37 starts at the six.

309. Michael Feliz (Bagwell score negative-17.92) is a six-foot-four right-handed pitcher from Azua, DR. Born on June 28, 1993, he rose to the major league level in 2015 with the Astros, and pitched five times in relief, striking out seven, walking four, and giving up seven runs in eight innings. Used in the lowest leveraged situations, possible (0.06 aLI), Feliz stranded all three of his inherited baserunners.

In 2016, Feliz led the Astros in winning percentage with an 8-1 record, and ranked second with a 13.2 K/9 (Ken Giles had 14.0). Feliz walked 22 and struck out 95 in 65 innings, with a 4.43 ERA, a 3.24 FIP, and a 1.185 WHIP. Used as a low-to-mid level reliever this time, with a 0.80 aLI, Feliz was Maton-like in his willingness to allow his inherited runners to score, stranding only eight-of-18.

On May 11, Feliz came in to pitch the 14th inning against the Cleveland Indians tied at 3, then struck out five over three shutout innings to earn a 5-3 victory against the Tribe. On July 2, he struck out seven and allowed one run on one hit in a 7-6 loss to the Chicago White Sox.

The 2017 campaign would see Feliz pitch in 46 games for the Astros, with 22 walks and 70 K’s in 48 innings. He was 4-2 with a 5.63 ERA, a 1.563 WHIP, a 3.78 FIP, and 13.1 K/9. On June 25, he earned a victory by striking out four over two perfect innings in an 8-2 win against the Seattle Mariners.

Despite Feliz’ presence for some of the first few years of the Astros’ resurgence, including their first Championship, he did not get a chance to pitch in the postseason. Since leaving Houston via trade on January 13, 2018 (with Jason Martin, Colin Moran, and Joe Musgrove to the Pirates for Gerrit Cole), Feliz has played with the Pirates (5-6, 5.00, 113 13 IP, 138 K), the Cincinnati Reds (0-0, 16.20, 6 23 IP, nine K), the Boston Red Sox (0-0, 3.12, 8 23 IP, nine K), and the Oakland Athletics (0-0, 2.70, 3 13 IP, 4 K).

After some minor league time with the Minnesota Twins and the New York Yankees, Feliz joined the Chunichi Dragons in NPB.

308. Jim York (Bagwell score negative-11.52) is a six-foot-three right-handed pitcher from Maywood, CA. Born on August 27, 1947, he was a 16th-round choice of the Kansas City Royals in 1969 out of the University of California at Los Angeles. He reached the majors with them in 1970, and played in parts of two seasons (6-6, 2.93, 101 13 IP, 109 K). On December 2, 1971, Kansas City sent York with Lance Clemons to the Astros for David Grangaard and John Mayberry.

York came into 26 Houston contests in relief through the 1972 campaign, 25 of which the Astros lost. He pitched with a 0.57 aLI and stranded only eight-of-14 inherited runners. His most positive contribution, by WPA, was on July 6, when he pitched the 12th through the 14th and held the Pirates scoreless on three hits, striking out two in an eventual 7-3, 17-inning loss to Pittsburgh. York was 0-1 with a 5.25 ERA, pitching 36 innings and walking 18 while striking out 25. He had a 3.68 FIP and a 1.750 WHIP, along with a career-worst 65 ERA+.

In 1973, York appeared in 41 games in relief for Houston, pitching with a 1.18 aLI and stranding 27-of-34 inherited runners, and the Astros actually won 15 of them. On May 4, York came in to pitch the ninth inning of a 5-5 tie against the New York Mets, and kept them scoreless for three innings, striking out a pair in an eventual 14-inning 9-5 Houston victory. York ended at 3-4 with a 4.42 ERA, a 3.91 FIP and a 1.604 WHIP. He struck out 22 and walked 20 over 53 innings.

In 1974, the Astros used York 28 times in relief. He was 2-2 with a 3.29 ERA, a 3.70 FIP, a 1.748 WHIP, and 15 strikeouts in 38 13 innings, against 19 walks. At 0.98 aLI, he was as mid-leverage as you could possibly get, and let 14-of-30 inherited baserunners cross the plate.

York had his best season for the Astros in his final year, 1975. He was 4-4 with a 3.86 ERA over 19 appearances, including four starts (two QS). He posted a 4.07 FIP and a 1.457 WHIP, with 17 strikeouts and 25 walks allowed in 46 23 innings. On August 27, he held the Cardinals to one run on five hits in seven innings, as Houston defeated St. Louis, 5-1. On September 7, he entered in relief against the San Diego Padres with one out and two runners on base in the eighth inning, then stranded them both and pitched 1 23 perfect innings to earn the victory, 3-2.

York was purchased from Houston by the New York Yankees on January 8, 1976 (1-0, 5.59, 9 23 IP, six K). He retired from baseball in 1978.

307. Tom Dixon (Bagwell score negative-10.35) is a five-foot-11 right-handed pitcher from Orlando, FL. Born on April 23, 1955, he was an 18th-round selection of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1973 out of William R. Boone High School. He didn’t sign, and a year later signed with the St. Louis Cardinals through free agency. A year following that, the Astros purchased his contract.

It was with the Astros for whom Dixon made his major league debut in 1977, and also ultimately accumulated just under 98 percent of his big-league playing time with. On July 30, he made his first start, and allowed two runs on 10 hits and a walk, striking out three in an eventual 11-3 win over the Chicago Cubs. On August 6, he earned his first major league win by going the distance against the St. Louis Cardinals, striking out two and giving up just one run on five hits and a walk in a 4-1 victory.

Dixon finished that first year at 1-0, starting four times out of nine total appearances. He had a 3.26 ERA and a 2.54 FIP, both career-bests, along with a 1.549 WHIP. He struck out 15 and walked seven in 30 13 innings.

In 1978, Dixon pitched a career-high 140 innings, striking out 66 and walking 40. He put up a career-best 1.286 WHIP, going 7-11 with a 3.99 ERA and a 3.26 FIP while starting in 19-of-30 appearances. On June 28 and on August 14, Dixon pitched shutouts, allowing four hits and three walks while striking out three in each game, a 3-0 win against the Cincinnati Reds and a 6-0 win over the Cardinals respectively.

In 1979, Dixon only started once but appeared in relief 18 times on his way to a 1-2 record and a 6.66 ERA, a 4.80 FIP, and a 2.104 WHIP in 25 23 innings. Despite the dreadful bottom line, on June 18 he came in to pitch three innings in a tie against the Mets, holding them scoreless from the 13th through the 15th in an eventual 18-inning, 3-2 Houston win.

On February 8, 1980, the Astros released Dixon. He eventually worked his way back to the majors with the Montreal Expos in 1983 (0-1, 9.82, 3 23 IP, four K).


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