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Everystros XCVII

Chapter 97 of Everystros features recent ex-Astro Jason Castro.

Los Angeles Angels v Houston Astros
Jason Castro breaking up a Shohei Ohtani perfect game on April 20, 2022.
Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Everystros XCVII

52. Phil Garner (Bagwell score 51.47) is a five-foot-10 right-handed 2b/3b from Jefferson City, TN. Born on April 30, 1949, he was an eighth-round choice of the Montreal Expos in 1970 out of the University of Tennessee. After finishing school instead of signing, he was taken in the first round (January draft-secondary phase) of the 1971 draft by the Oakland Athletics. Garner leads the nine players to make the bigs out of the round.

Garner made his debut with the A’s at the major league level in 1973, and appeared in parts of four seasons for the club (358 games, .251/.297/.369, 14 home runs, 129 RBI, 1976 All-Star). The then played most of five seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates (664 games, .267/.335/.404, 44 home runs, 280 RBI, 1980 and 1981 All-Star). On August 31, 1981, the Pirates traded Garner to Houston for Johnny Ray and PTBNLs Randy Niemann and Kevin Houston.

Garner played in 753 games for Houston between 1981 and 1987, starting 204 at second base (1858 innings, 1122, .978) and 497 at third base (4524 innings, .943). As a hitter, he was 659-for-2530 with a .260/.323/.389 slashline. He hit 119 doubles, 30 triples, 49 home runs, and stole 68 bases in 107 attempts. Garner also drew 233 walks and struck out 387 times, scoring 337 runs and driving in 320. In postseason play, he was four-for-27 with a double and two RBI through the 1981 NLDS loss against the Los Angeles Dodgers and the 1986 NLCS loss to the New York Mets.

April 12, 1982, Garner singled in the third, singled and scored the game-tying run in the eighth, and connected on an 11th-inning walk-off RBI-single, scoring Jose Cruz in a 2-1 win against the Dodgers. On May 17, he hit a double and three singles, scoring three times in an 8-1 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies. On July 29, he hit a two-out RBI-single in the fourth, stole a base and scored in the sixth, and stroked a go-ahead solo home run in the eighth to defeat the Cincinnati Reds, 4-3. On August 19, he hit a first-inning RBI-double to score Dickie Thon, a two-out two-run fifth-inning triple, and a single in the eighth to help defeat the Phils, 7-6. Two days later, he hit three singles and a double, scoring three runs to top the Montreal Expos, 5-3.

On April 21, 1983, Garner hit a fourth-inning solo home run, a sixth-inning game-tying RBI-single, and a walk-off 10th-inning two-run double to top the Reds, 3-2. On May 10, he singled in the seventh then hit a game-tying two-run two-out triple in the eighth in an eventual 5-4, 11-inning victory over the Mets. On June 8, he singled and stole a base in the second, walked in the seventh, and walked off the San Francisco Giants in the 11th, scoring Omar Moreno on an RBI-single for a 1-0 Houston win.

On April 20, 1984, Garner hit a first-inning RBI-single and scored, a single in the third, and a single in the seventh before reaching on a ninth-inning error and scoring the game-tying run in an 8-7 loss to the Atlanta Braves. On June 15, he entered as a ninth-inning pinch-hitter, and drove home Terry Puhl with a walk-off single to top the Dodgers, 3-2. The next day, he hit a fourth-inning single and scored and hit a go-ahead seventh-inning two-run homer in a 7-5 victory over LA. On July 30, he came through with another pinch-hit walk-off opportunity, driving home Jerry Mumphrey with a two-out RBI-single to defeat the Braves, 4-3. On August 19, he hit a first-inning single, a fourth-inning single with a run, and an eighth-inning go-ahead home run in a 4-3 victory over the Bucs. On September 18, he singled in the first, singled in the third, then hit a game-tying RBI-triple with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, in an eventual walk-off 5-4 win over the Giants. On September 25, he hit three singles and a double, with three runs scored and an RBI in a 12-6 victory over the Dodgers.

On April 26, 1985, Garner hit a fourth-inning double, drew a bases-loaded RBI-walk in the eighth, and finished the Braves off with a walk-off two-out RBI-single in the ninth for a 3-2 win over Atlanta. On May 11, he hit a sixth-inning, game-tying three-run triple in the sixth, then scored the go-ahead run on a Mark Bailey bunt in a 10-7 win over Cincinnati.

On April 15, 1986, Garner hit a single and two home runs for four RBI in an 8-3 win over San Francisco. On June 7, he singled and scored in the fifth and hit a lead-changing two-run double in the eighth to help defeat the Dodgers, 7-5. On July 3, he came in to pinch hit with two outs and a runner on base in the 10th inning, and launched a two-run go-ahead bomb off Jesse Orosco — only to see Houston lose when Frank DiPino surrendered two home runs in the bottom of the inning (Darryl Strawberry and Ray Knight) for a 6-5 Mets victory. On August 27, he hit four singles and scored a run, driving two runs home in a 7-1 win against the Chicago Cubs.

On June 19, 1987, the Astros traded Garner to the Dodgers for PTBNL Jeff Edwards. Edwards never reached the bigs, but Garner hit .190/.299/.270 in 70 games for the Dodgers, followed by going two-for-13 in 15 games for the Giants in 1988 to close up his playing career.

Garner went on to manage at the major league level for the Milwaukee Brewers from 1992 through 1999 (563-617, .477), the Detroit Tigers from 2000 through 2002 (145-185, .439) and the Astros from 2004 through 2007 (277-252, .524). SABR Bio

51. Dave Smith (Bagwell score 45.78) was a six-foot-one right-handed pitcher from Richmond, CA. Born on January 21, 1955, he was Houston’s eighth-round choice in 1976 out of San Diego State University. Smith was one-of-five out of the round to reach the majors, led by Larry Sorensen (13.0 bWAR). Smith had 11.7 bWAR). He’s also ranked fourth of the 12 then-future major leaguers to get drafted with the 169th overall choice, a fraternity led by Jim Edmonds (60.4 bWAR) and featuring Dylan Cease (11.8 bWAR).

Smith reached the bigs with the Astros in 1980, and worked out of Houston’s bullpen for 11 seasons, making 562 relief appearances and one start. Overall, he was 53-47 with a franchise-second 199 saves and a 2.53 ERA. His 563 total appearances is 99 more than second place on the franchise leaderboard, (Billy Wagner, 464). His 0.331 HR/9 also tops Houston’s career leaderboard. Smith issued 260 walks and struck out 529 over 762 innings, and held his opponents to a 1.189 WHIP and a .231/.297/.314 opposing slashline. I consider the “excellence” mark of a pitcher is when they hold opponents to an OBP below .300, and a SLG only slightly higher, HBU?

In all that time with the Astros, Smith made a total of 52 plate appearances, and went three-for-43 with four walks and five sacrifice hits. He made 11 errors in 133 fielding chances for a .917 fielding percentage.

Smith made the All-Star Team to represent Houston in 1986 and in 1990, and ranked in the National League top 10 in saves for six consecutive seasons, including a career-high 33 in 1986, when he ranked third.

On June 16, 1980, Smith pitched the final three innings against Chicago, keeping the Cubs scoreless on one hit with two strikeouts in a 2-1 victory. On July 22, he earned another nine-out save, allowing one hit and one walk in a 6-5 victory over the New York Mets. On August 15, he entered a 1-1 tie to pitch the 16th inning, and eventually collected the victory after pitching five shutout four-hit innings, striking out eight in a 3-1, 20-inning victory over the San Diego Padres.

On May 3, 1981, Smith struck out two over a perfect ninth in a 3-1 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. On September 3, he struck a pair over three shutout innings, holding the Expos to two hits for his sixth save of the year in a 2-1 win over Montreal. Three days later, he relieved Joe Sambito with a runner on second and two outs in the eighth, and pitched 2 13 scoreless innings, allowing only a double and two intentional walks in an eventual 12-inning, 4-3 win over Montreal.

On April 25, 1982, Smith entered with two runners on base and one out in the ninth, then collected the final two outs in a 4-3 loss to the Reds. On May 5, he collected the final six outs in an 8-7 win over Cincinnati. On May 18, he earned the win after pitching the final two innings of a 2-1, 12-inning win over the Philadelphia Phillies. On August 19, he kept the Phils to one hit and one walk over the final three innings of a 7-6, 11-inning victory.

On June 14, 1983, Smith got the 3-2 win over San Francisco by entering in the 11th and getting through the final two innings without allowing a hit in a 12-inning, 3-2 win over the Giants.

On April 17, 1985, Smith stranded his inherited runner and got through 1 23 innings surrendering only a hit in an eventual 1-0, 11-inning loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Four days later, he pitched the final 1 23 innings of a 4-2 win over the Atlanta Braves without allowing a baserunner. On May 4, he came in to pitch the ninth in a 5-5 tie with the Phillies, and pitched three scoreless innings to keep the Astros in it, in an eventual 7-5, 13-inning loss. On June 17, he stranded two inherited runners and pitched 2 13 perfect innings to earn his 11th save of the year in a 4-3 win over Atlanta. On July 7, he pitched three perfect innings starting with the ninth, in an eventual 19-inning 6-3 loss to the Expos. Four days later, he got the win by pitching the final three innings of a 12-inning 4-3 win against the Mets. On July 21, he stranded two inherited runners after entering with one out in the ninth, and collected the final two outs in a 5-4 win against Montreal. On September 3, he stranded another inherited runner and got the final four outs for the win in an 8-7 triumph over the Cubs.

On July 12, 1986, Smith got a nine-out save, striking out four over three perfect innings in a 4-3 win over Philadelphia. On August 29, he entered in the eighth with two outs and the bases loaded to protect a 3-2 lead, and stranded everyone on his way to his 27th save of the season in a victory against the Pittsburgh Pirates. On September 1, he came in with nobody out and the bases loaded in the ninth to protect a three-run lead, then got through the inning without allowing an additional baserunner in a 6-4 win over the Cubs.

On May 31, 1987, Smith pitched the final two innings of an 8-7 win over the St. Louis Cardinals, striking out four and stranding one of his three inherited runners. On June 26, he struck out three over two innings for his 14th save of the season, only allowing one hit in a 9-6 win over the Giants.

On April 8, 1988, Smith inherited one runner and stranded him, earning one strikeout and allowing one hit over two innings for a save, in a 6-3 win against the Friars.

On April 20, 1989, Smith got his second save of the season when he relieved with one out and one on in the eighth inning, then struck out two over the final 1 23 scoreless innings while topping Atlanta, 4-3. On July 8, he entered in the eighth with two runners on base and nobody out, then got the final six outs without allowing a baserunner in a 3-2 victory over the Expos.

On June 1, 1990, Smith inherited one runner and stranded him, pitching two scoreless innings in a 6-5 loss to San Francisco. On August 18, he pitched two scoreless innings over the final two frames of a 3-2, 11-inning win against the Cards. On October 3, in his final appearance with the Astros, he struck out a pair over 1 13 perfect innings, striking out a pair to defeat the Reds, 3-2.

After the 1990 season, Smith signed on with the Cubs through free agency and played in parts of two seasons with them (0-6, 17 saves, 4.94 ERA, 47 13 IP, 19 K). After the end of his playing career, Smith went into coaching with the San Diego Padres, serving as their Triple-A pitching coach in 1998 and serving in the same role in the majors for the team for three seasons, from 1999 through 2001. On December 17, 2008, Smith passed away due to a heart attack.

50. Jason Castro (Bagwell score 57.79) is a six-foot-three lefty-batting catcher from Castro Valley, CA. Born on June 18, 1987, he was a 43rd-round choice of the Boston Red Sox in 2005 out of Castro Valley High School. Instead of signing, Castro matriculated to Stanford, and in 2008 was taken in the first round by Houston. The first 21 picks in the round all made it to the majors, and 38-of-46 overall. The group is led by Buster Posey (44.8 bWAR). Castro is ninth. Forty-eight players taken with the 10th overall choice have reached the bigs as well, led by Mark McGwire (62.2 bWAR) and Robin Ventura (56.1 bWAR).

Castro reached the majors with Houston in 2010, and played in 617 games over parts of six seasons between 2010 and 2016. During that time, he started 539 games behind the plate (4746 13 innings, .995, 111-of-425 runners caught stealing), appeared in three games at first base (10 23 innings, no errors) and started 29 times at designated hitter. As a hitter, he was 469-for-2018 with a .232/.309/.390 slashline, with 114 doubles, nine triples, 62 home runs and five stolen bases in seven attempts. He drew 215 walks against 621 strikeouts, scoring 240 times and driving in 212.

On June 25, 2012, Castro hit a second-inning ground-rule double and scored, then hit a game-tying solo homer in the eighth inning of an 8-7 loss to the San Diego Padres. On July 3, he came in to the ninth inning down by a run as a pinch-hitter, with two outs and a runner on first, then stroked an RBI-double to tie the score in an eventual 8-7 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates. On September 28, he drew a walk and scored in the second, hit a solo home run in the fifth, then added a solo home run in the eighth inning of a 7-6 win over the Milwaukee Brewers.

On April 6, 2013, Castro hit a fourth-inning lead-changing three-run homer and a sixth-inning single, in a 6-3 loss to the Oakland Athletics. On May 25, he hit a single and a pair of home runs for three RBI in an 11-5 loss to the A’s. The next day, he collected four singles and scored a run in a 6-2 loss to Oakland.

On June 27, 2014, Castro capped a previously 0-for-4 day with a walk-off 11th-inning solo home run to defeat the Detroit Tigers, 4-3. On August 28, he singled in the second, drew a walk in the fourth and tacked on a hit a lead-changing grand slam in the fifth in a 4-2 victory over the Texas Rangers.

On July 30, 2015, Castro hit a walk-off three-run homer to defeat the Los Angeles Angels, 3-0. On August 23, he waited until the 10th to collect his first hit of the game, a walk-off solo home run to top the Los Angeles Dodgers, 3-2.

On November 30, 2016, Castro signed with the Minnesota Twins through free agency. He played three seasons with the Twinkies (208 games, .229/.325/.390, 24 home runs, 80 RBI), followed by splitting 2020 between the Angels (18 games, .192/.323/.385, two home runs, six RBI) and the Padres (nine games, .179/.233/.357, three RBI). On January 22, 2021, Castro signed with the Astros through free agency.

In his second tour with the club, Castro appeared in 100 games, starting 59 times behind the plate (556 13 innings, .992) and once at designated hitter. As a hitter, he was 44-for-227 with a .196/.306/.352 slashline. He hit nine doubles, nine homers, and stole one base in one attempt. He also drew 33 walks and struck out 94 times, scoring 28 runs and driving in 24.

On October 19, 2021, in Game Four of the ALCS against the Boston Red Sox, Castro entered as a pinch hitter in the seventh inning, then in the ninth, he hit the go-ahead RBI-single for the first run in a seven-run inning to help Houston to a 9-2 victory. Houston eventually won the series in six, but you know what happened next.

On June 29, 2022, Castro singled in the third and hit a two-run homer in the ninth for a 2-0 victory against the New York Mets. The home run came in the final plate appearance of his career, and what a way to go out, right?

49. Adam Everett (Bagwell score 61.66) is a six-foot right-handed shortstop from Austell, GA. Born on February 2, 1977, he was a fourth-round choice of the Chicago Cubs in 1995 out of Harrison High School and a first-round selection of the Boston Red Sox in 1998 out of the University of South Carolina. Thirty out of forty-three reached the majors out of the round, led by CC Sabathia’s 62.3 bWAR. Everett was 11th, with 12.6 bWAR. Thirty-seven players chose 12th overall have made it to the big leagues, led by Nomar Garciaparra (44.3 bWAR) and Kirk Gibson (38.4 bWAR). Everett is 10th in that fraternity.

On December 14, 1999, the Red Sox sent Everett and Greg Miller to the Astros for Carl Everett (no relation). It was with the Astros for whom Everett made his eventual major league debut, with nine appearances in the 2001 campaign.

In seven seasons with the Astros, Everett played in 649 games in total, making 597 starts at shortstop (5221 23 innings, .977). As a hitter, he went 531-for-2145 with a .248/.299/.357 slashline, with 102 doubles, 14 triples, 35 home runs, and 59 stolen bases in 77 attempts. He drew 131 walks and struck out 347 times, scoring 257 runs and driving in another 214.

On April 18, 2002, Everett entered as a pinch-runner in the ninth-inning, and crossed the plate on a Craig Biggio double-play ball to tie the Reds at three runs each. After taking over at shortstop, he drew a bases-loaded walk in the 10th inning to give Houston a 4-3 lead. Cincinnati came back with two in the bottom of the inning (off Nelson Cruz and Ricky Stone, respectively) in a 5-4 win over Houston. On July 27, 2004, he hit a single and two solo home runs, in a 10-3 win against the Arizona Diamondbacks. On May 19, 2006, he hit a three-run lead-changing eighth-inning double, then stole third base in a 5-3 Houston win over the Texas Rangers. On July 15, he hit a double and three singles with four runs driven in for the Astros in a 12-0 drubbing of the Florida Marlins.

Granted free agency on December 12, 2007, Everett was unemployed for less than a calendar day, signing with the Minnesota Twins on December 13. He would go on to spend one season with the Twinkies (48 games, .213/.278, 323, two home runs, 20 RBI), two seasons with the Detroit Tigers (149 games, .228/.275/.310, three home runs, 48 RBI) and one season with the Cleveland Indians (34 games, .217/.277/.233, one RBI).

After retirement, Everett found employment as Cleveland’s minor league infield coordinator in 2013, and served as Houston’s bench coach in 2014 and their infield coach in 2015, both at the major league level.

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