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Everystros LXV

Chapter 65 of Everystros features eight players that grade out at 1.0 or 1.1 bWAR during their time with the team.

Houston Astros v San Francisco Giants
Eric Anthony
Photo by Otto Greule Jr./Getty Images

It’s Saturday during the offseason, and you know what that means. At least you should, anyway.

Welcome to the Saturday edition of Everystros. Today we review eight players you may or may not remember from Houston baseball history, from 1962 through the present day. As a reminder, the “Bagwell score” is a bWAR-rate-based metric that has replacement level at zero and Jeff Bagwell at 100.

232. Luke Gregerson (Bagwell score 16.13) is a six-foot-three right-handed pitcher from Park Ridge, IL. Born on May 14, 1984, he was a 28th-round choice of the St. Louis Cardinals in 2006 out of St. Xavier University.

By the time he reached the majors, Gregerson was with the San Diego Padres, and spent five seasons in their bullpen starting in 2009 (17-22, 2.88, 347 IP, 352 K). He followed that with a season for the Oakland Athletics (5-5, 2.12, 72 13 IP, 59 K). He was granted free agency on October 30, 2014, and Houston inked him to a deal on December 12 for three years and $18.5M.

In 2015, Gregerson was 7-3 with a 3.10 ERA in 61 innings for the Astros, over 64 games. He walked 10 and struck out 59, ranking second on the team with a 0.951 WHIP (behind Will Harris’ 0.901) and leading the Astros with a 1.5 BB/9. He only allowed one-of-seven inherited runners to cross the plate, and was used at 1.77 aLI while holding his opponents to a .213/.253/.320 slashline.

On August 18, Gregerson pitched a perfect final two innings, whiffing a pair in a 3-2, 10-inning victory over the Tampa Bay Rays. Blessed as Houston’s postseason closer, he saved three games in four appearances, striking out six and allowing four baserunners over four innings, with one run surrendered.

In 2016, Gregerson held opponents to a .183/.252/.337 slashline, with a 4-3 record, 15 saves, and 18 walks to 67 strikeouts to land at a team-second 0.971 WHIP (behind Chris Devinski’s 0.914) and a team-best 5.9 H/9. He allowed two-of-eight inherited runners to score, and again pitched with a 1.77 aLI. On May 31, he struck out the side in a perfect ninth for his 13th save of the season in an 8-5 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Gregerson was retained for the third year of his contract, and in 2017 had the worst season of his major league career to date. He was 2-3 with one save and a 4.57 ERA, with 70 strikeouts and 20 walks in 61 innings. His 1.344 WHIP was the second-worst mark of his career to that point, and Gregerson allowed an un-Gregerson-like .257/.313/.477 opposing slashline.

Gregerson did have his moments through that final year with Houston, although he pitched with a much-reduced 0.90 aLI and allowed five-of-10 inherited baserunners to score. On June 20, he pitched a perfect eighth inning, striking out the side in an 8-4 win over the Athletics. Once he got to the postseason, he pitched 3 23 innings of scoreless relief over five appearances, striking out five and allowing only two hits and two walks to help Houston win their first World Series Championship. Over his three seasons with the team, he fielded at 1.000 through 57 chances.

Gregerson was granted free agency on November 2 following the title win, and later appeared in the majors with the St. Louis Cardinals for parts of two seasons (0-0, 7.36, 18 13 IP, 14 K).

231. Norm Larker (Bagwell score 20.01) was a six-foot left-handed first baseman/left fielder from Beaver Meadows, PA. Born on December 27, 1930, he got his first taste of the major leagues in 1958 with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and played four seasons with them (437 games, .294/.350/.417, 22 home runs, 194 RBI, 1960 All-Star selection). On October 10, 1961, the Houston Colt .45s chose Larker with the 23rd pick in the expansion draft.

Larker appeared in 147 games for the inaugural version of Houston’s franchise, and went one-for-four as Houston’s first-ever first baseman, in the team’s Opening Day 11-2 win against the Chicago Cubs on April 10, 1962. He started 130 games at first base in total (1144 13 innings, .991) and five in left field (36 innings, 1.000). He was 133-for-506 at bat, with 19 doubles, five triples and nine home runs. He drew 70 walks and struck out 47 times, with 58 runs and 63 driven in, and went one-for-one in stolen base attempts.

Larker collected 35 multiple-hit games in his one season with the Colts, with four instances of three hits or better. On May 5, he hit a single, two double and a home run in a 6-5, 12-inning loss to the Milwaukee Braves. On May 22, he hit a second-inning leadoff single, then added a two-run go-ahead eighth-inning triple in a 3-2 win against the New York Mets. On June 20, he hit a third-inning go-ahead grand slam, later adding a pair of walks and another run in a 9-5 win against the San Francisco Giants. On August 14, he singled in the second, reached on an error and scored the game-tying run in the fourth, drew a walk in the sixth, singled in the eighth, and hit a bunt-sacrifice in the bottom of the 10th, moving eventual game-winning run-scorer Roman Mejias to second base in a 4-3 victory against the St. Louis Cardinals.

On November 30, 1962, the Colts traded Larker to the Braves for Jim Bolger, Connie Grob and Don Nottebart. He played the first 23 of the 1963 season with the Braves (64 games, .177/.287/.238, one home run, 14 RBI) before closing it out with the Giants (19 games, .071/.188/.071). SABR Bio

230. Brandon Lyon (Bagwell score 21.12) is a six-foot-one right-handed pitcher from Salt Lake City, UT. Born on August 10, 1979, he was initially a 37th-round choice of the New York Mets in 1997 out of high school. After turning the Mets down, he was later taken in the 14th round in 1999 by the Toronto Blue Jays out of Utah Tech University.

Lyon reached the bigs with the Jays in 2001, and played parts of two seasons north of the border (6-8 one save, 5.40, 125 IP, 65 K). He later played for the Boston Red Sox (4-6, nine saves, 4.12, 59 IP, 50 K), the Arizona Diamondbacks (11-15, 42 saves, 232 IP, 147 K), and the Detroit Tigers (6-5, three saves, 2.86, 78 23 IP, 57 K). On December 12, 2009, the Astros signed Lyon through free agency.

In 2010, Lyon led the Astros with 79 appearances out of the bullpen for Houston, ranking second with 20 saves despite not inheriting the closer role until August 13. In 78 innings, he allowed 28 runs (27 earned) on 31 walks and 68 hits with 54 strikeouts. He was 6-6 with a 3.12 ERA and a team-leading 0.2 HR/9. Lyon held his opponents to a .231/.310/.312 slashline with a 1.269 WHIP. He was used at 1.89 aLI and stranded all seven of his inherited runners.

On June 28, Lyon struck out a season-high four batters in 1 13 perfect innings of a 9-5 win over the Milwaukee Brewers. On August 25, he earned a six-out save against the Phillies, holding them scoreless on one hit and striking out three in a 3-2 win against Philadelphia.

After a moderately productive 1.7 bWAR season that ranked as Lyon’s third best, 2011 would prove to be a little more difficult (and he wasn’t the only one, if you remember). On Opening Day, he earned a loss by allowing three earned runs on six hits in 13 of an inning in a 5-4 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies.After that out-and-out meltdown, things seemed a lot better through the end of April, with Lyon appearing 10 times and allowing three runs over 11 innings. On May 4, Lyon came in to protect a 2-0 ninth inning lead with runners on the corners and nobody out, then gave up a pair of singles and a double without retiring a batter to get walked off, 3-2 by the Cincinnati Reds. He was placed on the DL with elbow tendinitis the following day.

When Lyon came back a month later, we thought he was better, but after giving up eight runs in two innings over three starts, Houston put him back on the DL with right triceps tendinitis. He remained on rehab for the duration of the campaign.

In 2012, Lyon rejoined Houston’s bullpen for the first three-and-a-half months of the season, going 0-2 with a 3.25 ERA and a 1.333 WHIP along with a .262/.325/.362 opposing slashline. He walked 11 and struck out 35 in 36 innings, giving up 13 runs on 37 hits. On May 7, he struck out the side in a perfect ninth, although Houston lost, 4-0 to the Miami Marlins. On May 19, Lyon relieved Brandon Snyder with two on and nobody out, protecting a 6-5 eighth-inning lead. He got Nelson Cruz (more on him shortly), Mike Napoli, and Craig Gentry, flyball, groundout, flyball to end the threat in an eventual win by the same score.

On July 20, 2012, Lyon’s time with the Astros came to an end in a 10-player deal with Toronto. He finished the season with the Jays (4-0, 2.88, 25 IP, 28 K) and played 2013 with the Mets (2-2, 4.98, 34 13 IP, 23 K). He was declared a free agent on May 5, 2014, but didn’t sign with another team.

229. Eric Anthony (Bagwell score 8.64) is a six-foot-two left-handed rightfielder from San Diego, CA. Born on November 8, 1967, he was a 34th-round pick of Houston in 1986 out of Sharpstown High School.

Three years later, Anthony reached the Astros for 25 games between July 28 and the end of the season, most of them in September. On September 22, he hit two singles and a solo home run in a 3-1 victory over the San Francisco Giants. He started 14 times in right field (128 13 innings, 1.000) and twice in left field (16 innings, 1.000), and was 11-for-61 overall with a pair of doubles, four home runs and seven RBI. he drew nine walks and finished with 16 strikeouts.

In 1990, Anthony was 46-for-239 with eight doubles and 10 home runs. He stole five bases without getting caught, drew 29 walks and struck out 78 times, scored 26 times and drove another 29 in, slashing .192/.279/.351. He appeared in 84 games in total, starting 56 times in right field (469 innings, .971) and 12 times in left (94 13 innings, .947).

On May 6, Anthony drew an 11th inning walk and came home with the go-ahead run on a balk, in an eventual 7-4 loss to the New York Mets. On May 21, he hit an two-out eighth-inning single in a tie game against the PIttsburgh Pirates, then in the bottom of the 11th, he hit a walkoff solo home run for a 3-2 victory. On June 28, he drew a sixth-inning walk, drew another walk and stole a base in the eighth, and hit the walkoff game-winner against the San Diego Padres, driving Craig Biggio home with a double off Mark Grant.

Anthony played in 39 games for Houston in 1991, starting 36 times in right field (280 23 innings, .986). He was 18-for-118 with six doubles and one home run. He drew 12 walks and struck out 41 times, scoring 11 times, driving in seven and stealing one base without getting caught. His slashline was an uninspiring .153/.227/.229.

In 1992, Anthony was 105-for-440 with 15 doubles, one triple and 19 homers. He drew 38 walks and struck out 98 times, stealing five bases in nine attempts. He scored 45 times and drove in 80, slashing .239/.298/.407. He had 23 multi-hit games through the season.

On July 27, Anthony hit a third-inning single, a fifth-inning leadoff single, and an 11th-inning go-ahead grand slam in a 5-1 victory against the Atlanta Braves. On September 23, he hit a fourth-inning two-run homer, and later hit a go-ahead ninth-inning RBI-single in a 7-6 win over the San Diego Padres. On September 30, he hit two homers with four RBI in a 5-4 win against the Padres.

In 1993, Anthony appeared in 145 games, starting 106 games in right (946 innings, .990) and 19 games in center field (148 23 innings, .971). He was 121-for-486 with 19 doubles, four triples, and 15 home runs. He stole three bases in eight attempts, drew 49 walks versus 88 strikeouts, and scored 70 runs while driving another 66 in. He had 33 multiple-hit games, including six three-hit games.

On June 23, he started a game out 0-for-3 before hitting a three-run go-ahead ninth-inning home run to defeat the Los Angeles Dodgers, 5-3. On December 10, the Astros traded him to the Seattle Mariners for Mike Felder and Mike Hampton.

Anthony continued his major league career with the M’s (79 games, .237/.297/.412, 10 homers, 30 RBI), later appearing with the Cincinnati Reds (94 games, .257/.342/.455, 13 home runs, 36 RBI), the Colorado Rockies (32 games, .242/.342/.468, four homers, nine RBI) and the Los Angeles Dodgers (47 games, .243/.349/.419, two home runs, five RBI).

228. Norm Miller (Bagwell score 8.65) is a five-foot-10 left-handed batting righty-throwing rightfielder from Los Angeles, CA. Born on February 5, 1946. he reached the majors for the first time in 1965 with the Houston Astros. He eventually spent nine seasons with Houston, in a nine-way tie for 24th in franchise history.

Miller played nine years with Houston, appearing in 489 games. He started 314 times in the outfield in total, fielding 2,848 23 innings at a .971 clip. He slashed a .240/.322/.355 with 66 doubles, 10 triples, and 22 homers for 148 RBI.

On August 21, 1967, Miller hit three doubles and two RBI in an 11-4 win against the St. Louis Cardinals. On August 23, 1968, Miller hit a two-out double in the eighth and a two-out, bases-loaded walkoff RBI-single to score Ron Brand off Phil Regan in a 3-2 win against the Chicago Cubs. On May 25, 1969, he collected four hits with one RBI in a 6-3 victory over the New York Mets.

On April 7, 1970, for Opening Day, Miller hit a seventh-inning go-ahead three-run home run in an eventual 8-5 win over the San Francisco Giants. On April 22, 1973, the Astros traded Miller to the Atlanta Braves for Cecil Upshaw. Miller played parts of two seasons with the Braves (51 games, .204/.333/.367, two homers, 11 RBI).

227. Jeff Keppinger (Bagwell score 11.92) is a six-foot right-handed infielder from Miami, FL. Born on April 21, 1980, he was a fourth-round choice of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2001 out of the University of Georgia. He reached the majors with the New York Mets (33 games, .284/.317/.379, three home runs, nine RBI).

Keppinger later played with the Kansas City Royals (22 games, .267/.323/.400, two home runs, eight RBI) and the Cincinnati Reds (188 games, .289/.342/.391, eight home runs, 75 RBI). On March 31, 2009, Keppinger joined the Astros for PTBNL Drew Sutton.

In 2009, Keppinger was 78-for-305 with 13 doubles, three triples and seven home runs. He drew 27 walks and struck out 33, scoring 35 runs and driving in 29. Out of 107 appearances for Houston, he started 59 times at third base (507 23 innings, .955), 14 times at second base (138 23 innings, .988), three times at shortstop (38 23 innings, 1.000) and zero times in left field (3 13 innings, 1.000).

On July 28, Keppinger hit two singles, a double and a triple with a total of three RBI in an 11-6 win against the Chicago Cubs. On September 16, he hit a single and two solo home runs in a 6-5 loss to the Reds.

The 2010 campaign would see Keppinger amass 45 multiple-hit games, including 10 times where they had three or more. On May 19, he collected a season-high four RBI with a single and two doubles in a 7-3 win over the Colorado Rockies. In 137 games he hit .288/.351/.393 with six home runs and 59 RBI.

On June 26, 2011, Keppinger hit a single, a double, and a homer with a pair of RBIs in a 14-10 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays. Prior to him getting traded away, he appeared in 43 games and hit .307/.320/.436 with four jacks and 20 RBI. On July 19, the Astros sent him to the Giants for Jason Stoffel and Henry Sosa.

Keppinger finished the season with San Francisco (56 games, .255/.285/.333, two home runs, 15 RBI) and later played with the Tampa Bay Rays (115 games, .325/.367/.439, nine home runs, 40 RBI) and the Chicago White Sox (117 games, .253/.283/.317, four home runs, 40 RBI).

226. Walt Bond (Bagwell score 12.31) was a six-foot-seven left-handed hitting first baseman from Denmark, TN. Born on October 19, 1937, he first reached the majors in 1960 with the Cleveland Indians (90 games, .245/.319/.455, 13 home runs, 42 RBI). While serving in the Army, he was diagnosed with Leukemia in 1962. On December 19, 1963, despite his diagnoisis, he was purchased from Cleveland by the Houston Colt .45s.

For a much, much better writeup of Bond, check the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame’s entry on him.

In his first season with Houston, Bond hit .254/.310/.420 with 16 doubles, seven triples, and 20 home runs. He drew 38 walks, struck out 90 times, scored 63 times, and drove in 85. He had 39 multi-hit games, including six where he had three or more. On July 1, he hit two home runs for four RBI in an 8-6 loss to the New York Mets. On August 2, he hit a single, a double, and a home run for four RBI in a 9-7 win over the Mets.

In 1965, Houston changed their name from the Colt .45s to the Astros, and Bond appeared in another 117 games for Houston. The Astros slashed .263/.337/.366 with seven homers and 47 RBI.

Bond later played 10 games in 1967 with the Minnesota Twins, going five-for-16 with a homer and five RBI. He died on September 14 at the age of 29 in Houston, where he was interred at Houston National Cemetary.

225. Nelson Cruz (Bagwell score 17.93) is a six-foot-one right-handed pitcher from Puerto Plata, DR. Born on September 13, 1972, he reached the majors with the Chicago White Sox in 1997 (0-2, 6.49, 26 13 IP, 23 K), and later appeared with the Detroit Tigers (7-7, 4.68, 107 23 IP, 80 K). On December 11, 2000, Cruz was traded by the Tigers to the Astros with Brad Ausmus and Doug Brocail for Roger Cedeño, Chris Holt and Mitch Meluskey.

Cruz was 3-3 with a 4.15 ERA in 66 games for the Astros, walking 24 and striking out 75 in 82 13 innings. He had a 1.166 WHIP and a .237/.310/.408 opposing slashline. On May 7, he pitched three shutout innings and struck out five in a 5-0 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies.

Cruz remained with the Astros in 2002, and was 2-6 with a 4.48 ERA and a 1.519 WHIP with a .285/.353/.497 opposing slashline. On July 6, he struck out four over six shutout three-hit innings to earn his first win of the season in a 10-2 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

In his two seasons with the Astros, Cruz was one-for-19 with one RBI. In the field, he made one error in 13 chances for a .923 fielding percentage. On December 16, 2002, the Astros traded him to the Colorado Rockies for Victor Hall.

Cruz pitched a season with Colorado (3-5, 7.21, 54 23 IP, 38 K). After his playing career, he served as a pitching coach in the San Diego Padres’ organization, between the Rookie-level and short-season-A.

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