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Everystros LX

Another eight Astros are featured in today’s chapter, between 0.1 and 0.4 bWAR.

MLB: MAY 22 Giants at Astros
Tony Kemp
Photo by Juan DeLeon/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Welcome to the last day of the year.

New Years Day means a lot of things to a lot of people. The passing of a year, a new start with a new resolution, and on a personal note, my wedding anniversary and the anniversary of my retirement from the US Army. Maybe most importantly, although most baseball fans don’t think about it, it’s also the midpoint between October 1 and April 1. Those dates are traditionally pretty much the start and end of baseball’s regular season. Relax, we’re halfway there.

Everystros LX

272. Julio Gotay (Bagwell score 2.27) was a six-foot infielder from Fajardo, PR. Born on June 9, 1939, he reached the majors for the first time with the 1960 St. Louis Cardinals, and spent parts of three seasons with the team (140 games, .256/.314/.313, two home runs, 32 RBI). He later played with the Pittsburgh Pirates (seven games, two-for-four) and the California Angels (40 games, ..261/.311/.322, four home runs, nine RBI).

On June 27, 1966, the Angels traded Gotay to the Astros for Thomas Arruda. Gotay appeared in four games through the rest of the season, going 0-for-five.

In 1967, Gotay appeared in 77 games for Houston, starting 30 games at second base (260 innings, .971), 20 games at shortstop (170 innings, .960) and twice at third base (20 innings, 1.000). In his first four games of the season, from June 4 through 8, Gotay went 10-for-26 with three multi-hit games. On June 5, he picked up a .666 single-game WPA by singling in the third, hitting an RBI-double and scoring in the fifth, and adding an RBI-single in the sixth. He had 15 multiple-hit games through the season, including a five-hit effort on June 19, with a double, a triple, and a pair of RBI in a 5-4, 11-inning loss to the Cardinals.

Gotay went 66-for-234 with 10 doubles, two triples and two homers. He drew 15 walks versus 30 strikeouts, scoring 30 runs and driving in 15, and stealing one base in two attempts.

Gotay played in 75 games in 1968, starting 35 times at second base (341 23 innings, .982) and 13 of an inning at third base. He had nine multiple-hit games in total. On May 24, Gotay hit a pinch-two-RBI game-tying single in the bottom of the ninth, but the Astros eventually lost, 9-7 in 10 innings. On June 4, he hit a second-inning single and a game-tying RBI-single in the bottom of the eighth, in a 3-2 loss to the Cardinals.

Gotay was 41-for-165 overall, with three doubles and one home run. He drew four walks and struck out 21 times, scoring nine runs and driving in 11. He stole one base in three attempts.

The 1969 season was Gotay’s final major league season. In 46 games, he started 11 times at second base (119 innings, .987) and one inning at third base. On August 26, he hit a go-ahead two-run pinch-single in the ninth inning, the eventual game-winning hit in a 4-2 win over the Cardinals. Gotay would play another two seasons in Houston’s system, but didn’t again reach the major leagues.

271. José Vizcaíno (Bagwell score 1.56) is a six-foot-one switch-hitting infielder from San Cristobal, DR. Born on March 26, 1968, he reached the big leagues with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1991, and spent five seasons over parts of two tours with the team (245 games, .250/.305/.306, four home runs, 64 RBI), He later appeared with the Chicago Cubs (330 games, .265/.309/.331, five home runs, 81 RBI), the New York Mets (334 games, .282/.332/.356, seven home runs, 121 RBI), the Cleveland Indians (48 games, .285/.310/.335, 13 RBI), two tours with the San Francisco Giants (215 games, .256/.319/.335, six home runs, 55 RBI), and the New York Yankees (73 games, .276/.319/.333, 10 RBI). Vizcaíno signed as a free agency with the Astros on November 20, 2000.

Vizcaíno played in 559 games over five seasons with Houston, and slashed a .276/.316/.369 line with 13 jacks and 133 RBI. On September 30, 2001, Vizcaíno hit a first-inning double, a fourth-inning game-tying RBI-single, a sacrifice bunt in the sixth, and a leadoff single in the top of the eighth, in a 7-6 loss to the Cubs. On May 18, 2002, he led off the fifth inning of a tie game with a single, then drove home the walk-off game-winner with a ninth-inning solo home run.

On May 26, 2002, Vizcaíno hit an RBI-double in the seventh inning to get Houston on the scoreboard after falling behind 5-0 to the Cubs, then scored to make it 5-2. In the eighth, he hit a game-tying RBI single then scored another run in a 7-5 win against Chicago. On August 17, Vizcaíno opened a game against Cincinnati with a leadoff home run, then added a second-inning single, a fifth-inning single, an eighth-inning single, and a ninth-inning RBI-single in a 6-1 win against the Reds and a five-hit game.

On May 13, 2003, Vizcaíno hit two singles and a double with three RBI in a 6-3 win against the Pittsburgh Pirates. On September 9, he hit a pinch three-run game-tying home run in the eighth inning, in an eventual 7-6 win over the Milwaukee Brewers. On September 24, in another pinch appearance, he hit a two-run come-from-behind and go-ahead single against the Giants, in a 2-1 win over San Francisco.

On July 7, 2004, Vizcaíno hit a single, two doubles, and a home run with two RBI in a 5-1 win against the San Diego Padres. On August 18, he hit a fourth-inning RBI-single, then scored the game-tying run later in the inning. In the eighth, he reached on an error and scored the go-ahead run against the Phillies in a 9-8 win over Philadelphia.

Between three trips to the postseason for Vizcaino with the Astros, he went 11-for-62 with one double and three RBI, and also scored three runs. One of his RBI nearly turned the tide of the ultimately doomed 2005 World Series.

Vizcaíno totaled 87 multiple-hit games during his time with Houston, including 22 times where he collected three or more. He went 10-for-56 in the postseason with one double and two walks but only four strikeouts. On defense, he started 167 games at shortstop (1501 innings, .963), 68 games at second base (686 innings, .992), 34 games at third base (330 13 innings, .914), and 12 games at first base (124 innings, .985).

270. Dave Mlicki (Bagwell score 2.85) is a six-foot-four right-handed pitcher from Cleveland, OH. Born on June 8, 1968, he was a 23rd-round choice of the Seattle Mariners in 1989. He didn’t sign, and was subsequently taken in the 17th round of the 1990 draft by the Cleveland Indians, out of Oklahoma State University.

Mlicki reached the majors in 1992, and played small parts of two seasons with the Tribe (0-2, 4.37, 35 IP, 23K). He would later play for the New York Mets (24-30, 4.15, 501 13 IP, 402 K), the Los Angeles Dodgers (7-4, 4.10, 131 23 IP, 79 K) and the Detroit Tigers (24-31, 5.46, 392 IP, 224 K). On June 23, 2001, Mlicki was traded by Detroit to Houston for José Lima.

Mlicki played out the rest of 2001 and the entirety of 2002 with Houston, and went 11-13 with a 5.21 ERA overall. He pitched 172 23 innings, and started in 30 of his 41 appearances. He surrendered 110 runs (100 earned) on 186 hits and 67 walks, striking out 106 opposing hitters.

In 2001, Mlicki pitched Quality Starts in six-of-13 opportunities. On September 19, he held the Giants to three hits and two walks over seven shutout innings and struck out three in a 10-3 win over San Francisco. The following season, he started the year as Houston’s number four starter. In his fourth start, he held the Giants to a J.T. Snow second-inning single and no walks over eight innings, striking out three. Billy Wagner locked it down in a non-save situation in a 4-0 Houston victory.

269. Jeff Heathcock (Bagwell score 3.39) is a six-foot-four right-handed pitcher from Covina, CA. Born on November 18, 1959, he was a second-round choice of the Milwaukee Brewers in January, 1979 and a first-round pick (14th overall) by the San Diego Padres, both out of Golden West College. After not signing, he was selected with the first overall choice of the 1980 June Secondary Phase out or Oral Roberts University.

Starting in 1983, Heathcock pitched in 56 games for Houston over parts of four seasons, starting 13 times. He was 9-9 with a 3.76 ERA and a 1.190 WHIP. In 158 innings, he allowed 79 runs, only 66 earned, on 146 hits and 42 walks while striking out 64 and landing at 4.14 FIP. Through his career, he held his opponents to a .246/297/.405 slashline.

On September 10, 1983, in the second appearance of his career, Heathcock held the Giants to one unearned run over 7 13 one-hit innings, walking one and striking out three in a 5-3 win against San Francisco. On October, he lasted eight frames and kept the Reds to one run on four hits and zero walks, with four strikeouts in a 3-2 win over Cincinnati.

On September 16, 1985, Heathcock went the distance and allowed the Braves two runs on four hits and a walk in a 7-2 victory over Atlanta. On September 27, he struck out three over 7 13 innings against the Reds, allowing two runs (one earned) on five hits and three walks in an eventual 4-3 loss. It was also in this game that Heathcock collected the only hit of his major league career, a third-inning single off Ron Robinson. Overall, Heathcock put up a one-for-35 career, with four walks, four sacrifice hits, one run, and 20 strikeouts.

On April 8, 1988, Heathcock came in to pitch the 11th inning of a 2-2 tie with the Reds, and allowed only a walk and a single over 2 23 shutout innings in an eventual 8-3, 16-inning triumph.

268. Joe Gaines (Bagwell score 3.84) was a six-foot-one right-handed outfielder from Bryan, TX. Born on November 22, 1936, he made his major league debut in 1960 with the Cincinnati Reds, appearing in parts of three seasons (80 games, .214/.313/.300, one home run, eight RBI). He played for the Baltimore Orioles in 1963 and through part of 1964 (82 games, .263/.358/.441, seven home runs, 22 RBI. On June 15, 1964, the O’s traded Gaines to the Colt .45s for John Weekly & cash.

Gaines appeared in 200 games for the Colt .45s/Astros over three seasons with the team. He slashed .239/.304/.372 with 13 home runs and 65 RBI. Overall, he was 131-for-549 with 18 doubles, eight triples and 12-of-15 successful stolen base attempts. He drew 49 walks and struck out 133 times, scoring 62 runs.

On June 26, 1964, Gaines singled in the eighth then hit a game-tying RBI-single in the ninth in an eventual 7-6, 10-inning loss to the Chicago Cubs. On August 2, he started his day with a first-inning RBI-single against the Mets, then went on to walk in the third, hit a single in the fifth, hit a leadoff go-ahead double in the seventh, later coming around to score, and capped it off with a leadoff double in the ninth, scoring a game-tying run in a 9-7 win against New York. On August 30, Gaines hit a single in the second, then hit a two-run come-from-behind, go-ahead sixth-inning triple, later coming in to score. In the seventh, he hit his second two-run triple in two innings, in an eventual 8-5 win over the Cincinnati Reds.

On April 30, 1965, Gaines hit a game-tying two-run pinch-homer in the eighth against the Cubs, in a 4-3 Houston Astros victory. On June 8, Gaines turned a 5-3 deficit into a 6-5 lead with a pinch-hit three-run homer in the ninth inning, in a 7-6 11-inning loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

As a fielder, Gaines started 120 games in right field (1019 13 innings, .940) and 19 games in left field (167 innings, .914). After his playing career, he went into clothing sales, and lived until the age of 86.

267. Tony Kemp (Bagwell score 5.40) is a five-foot-six outfielder and second baseman from Franklin, TN. Born on October 31, 1991, Kemp was Houston’s fifth-round pick in 2013 out of Vanderbilt University. He reached the majors with the Astros in 2016, and played in parts of four seasons with the team.

Kemp slashed .240/.322/.376 over 239 games for Houston, going 138-for-575 with 26 doubles, five triples, and 14 home runs. He drew 63 walks against 105 strikeouts, scored 81 runs, and drove in 58. He stole 16 bases in 23 attempts. Defensively, he started 77 games in left field (687 23 innings, .992), two games at second base (41 innings, .938), 29 games in center field (250 innings, .985), and two games in right field (18 innings, 1.000).

On August 7, 2016, Kemp hit a leadoff pinch-single in the eighth inning of a game the Astros trailed the Texas Rangers, 3-0, and later came around to score. In the ninth, he hit a two-out game-tying RBI-single to send it into extra innings, but Texas came away with a 5-3 win. On September 20, Kemp hit a pinch-game-tying-RBI-double in the seventh inning against Oakland, then led off the 10th inning with a double and later scored the go-ahead run in a 2-1 win against the Athletics.

On May 22, 2018, Kemp collected five RBI with two singles, a sacrifice fly and a sacrifice hit in an 11-2 win over the San Francisco Giants. On September 7, hit a two-run, two-out, come-from-behind, go-ahead single in the seventh inning against Boston in a 6-3 win against the Red Sox. It was also in 2018 that Kemp had his only postseason exposure to date, going four-for-14 with a double and a solo home run and a .286/.474/.571 slashline.

On April 27, 2019, Kemp made a pinch-hit appearance to lead off the bottom of the 10th against Cleveland, and drove a 2-1 Adam Cimber offering over the fence for a walkoff 4-3 win over the Indians. Kemp had a total of 30 multiple-hit games with the Astros, including six times where he finished with three. On July 31, 2019, the Astros traded Kemp to the Cubs for Martín Maldonado.

Kemp played out the string in Chicago (44 games, .183/.258/.305, one home run, 12 RBI), and has since played four seasons for the Oakland Athletics (451 games, .240/.330/.345, 20 home runs, 114 RBI.

266. Greg Swindell (Bagwell score 1.96) is a six-foot-two left-handed pitcher from Fort Worth, TX. Born on January 2, 1965, he was a first-round choice of the Cleveland Indians in 1986, second overall out of the University of Texas at Austin.

After getting drafted, Swindell made three minor league starts for the Tribe, then graduated to the majors. He wouldn’t appear again in the minors until 2002. He played seven seasons in Cleveland (61-56, 3.86, 1071 23 IP, 777 K, 1989 AL All-Star) over two tours. He followed that with one season playing for the Cincinnati Reds (12-8, 2.70, 213 23 IP, 138 K). Before the start of the 1993 season, Swindell signed a deal with the Astros through free agency.

Swindell played three full seasons and part of a fourth with Houston. Overall, he was 30-34 with a 4.48 ERA and a 1.401 WHIP. He allowed 289 runs (256 earned) on 605 hits and 116 walks over 514 23 innings. He also struck out 309 batters.

Swindell had 16 Quality Starts in his first season with Houston, starting in 30-of-31 games in 1993. On August 24 he struck out 10 over seven shutout three-hit innings, earning a win in a 4-0 triumph over the Florida Marlins. On October 1, he struck out 10 and pitched a shutout, scattering eight hits in a 2-0 win against the Reds.

In 1994, 12 of Swindell’s 24 starts were “Quality,” including on April 13, when he struck out seven and gave up five hits over eight shutout innings in a 4-2 win against Florida. In 1995, 16 of his 26 starts were up to snuff. On June 26, he struck out five and walked one in a six-hit, 11-0 win against the St. Louis Cardinals.

After four starts in 1996, only one of the quality variety, Swindell moved to the bullpen, and would only start in one more game through the rest of his career. The Astros released him on June 3, and he resigned with the Indians on June 15. Through his time with the Astros he was 25-for-100 at the plate, with seven doubles and five RBI. Later on, he played for the Minnesota Twins (10-7, 3.61, 182 IP, 120 K), the Boston Red Sox (2-3, 3.38, 24 IP, 18 K), and the Arizona Diamondbacks (8-14, 3.76, 227 13 IP, 180). After a coaching career, Swindell has gone into broadcasting.

265. Mike LaCoss (Bagwell score 2.70) is a six-foot-five right-handed pitcher from Glendale, CA. Born on May 30, 1956, he was a third-round pick of the Cincinnati Reds in 1974, out of Mount Whitney High School. He reached the bigs with the Reds in 1978, and played four seasons with them, mostly as a starter (32-35, 4.39, 549 IP, 185 K).

On April 6, 1982, the Reds failed to pass LaCoss through waivers when Houston claimed him. He pitched three seasons for the Astros, starting 43 times and making another 75 appearances in relief. He was 18-18 with a 3.83 ERA and a 1.418 WHIP. Over 385 innings, he allowed 186 runs, 164 earned on 381 hits and 165 walks, striking out 190.

LaCoss had his best game of the 1982 season on September 14, when he struck out three and held the Braves scoreless over seven innings, giving up two hits and two walks in a 4-0 win against Atlanta. On April 24, 1983, LaCoss earned no decision in a 3-2 win over the Phillies despite giving up only two runs over 8 13 innings, on seven hits and two walks. On May 4, he pitched a complete game and held the Mets to three runs, but only one earned on six hits and a walk while striking out three in a 4-3 win over New York.

On July 19, 1983, LaCoss inherited two baserunners with no outs and a two-run sixth-inning lead over the Phillies, then got out of the jam unscored on. He followed that with two hitless innings of relief in a 7-3 victory against Philadelphia. On July 5, 1984, he struck out six over eight innings, allowing only an unearned run on three hits and three walks in a 2-1 win over the Montreal Expos.

In three seasons with Houston LaCoss went 13-for-90 at the plate with two doubles and two RBI. He drew two walks, scored four runs, collected 13 sacrifice hits, and struck out 36 times. As a fielder, he made six errors in 90 fielding chances for a .933 fielding percentage.

Thanks for reading, and Happy New Year.

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