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(Houston Astros)

(Houston Astros)

2023 Season

Season Preview:  The loss of Cy Young award winner Justin Verlander seems like a big blow to the Astros, but they may just have another winner this year in Cristian Javier. Can Javier be even better as he was last season? The answer to that question—as well as the signing of first baseman Jose Abreu—will probably make the difference between 90 wins and 100 in 2023. Meanwhile, Yordan Alvarez seems ready to put together an MVP season. He leads an offense that includes Kyle Tucker, Alex Bregman, Jeremy Pena, and Jose Altuve, who should recover from a hand injury suffered in the World Baseball Classic. Hunter Brown, Houston’s top pitching prospect, is expected to take Verlander’s place in the starting rotation.

2022 Season

Season Recap: The Astros won 106 games and fought their way through the playoffs to meet the Phillies in the World Series. After losing two of the first three games, Houston allowd just three runs over the next three games to win the championship, 4 games to 2. Young stars Yordan Alvarez and Kyle Tucker, and veteran Jose Altuve, powered the team’s offense, while 39-year-old Justin Verlander led the AL with 18 wins and 1.75 ERA—and won his third Cy Young Award. Shortstop Jeremy Pena, who replaced free agent Carlos Correa, played well all season was a hero throughout the playoffs and World Series.

July 19, 2022: Framber Valdez pitched a scoreless third inning to earn the win in the 2022 All-Star Game. He was the first Astro ever to pick up an All-Star victory.

June 25, 2022: Cristian Javier, Hector Neris, and Ryan Pressly held the powerful New York Yankees hitless in a 3–0 victory. It was the 14th no-hitter in Houston history.

June 15, 2022: Luis Garcia and Phil Maton each threw an “immaculate inning”—three strikeouts on nine pitches—in the same game against the Texas Rangers. The pitchers each struck out the same three batters: Nate Lowe, Ezequiel Duran, and Brad Miller.

May 3, 2022: Houston beat the Mariners to give manager Dusty Baker his 2,000th career victory. Only 11 other managers have reached 2,000 wins.

April 07, 2022: The Astros beat the Angels 3–1 to win their 10th Opening Day game in a row, which set a modern major-league record.

Season Preview: How big a loss was Carlos Correa to Houston? The answer will depend on the play of Jeremy Pena, who looks like he could become the surprise star of 2022. If that happens, the Astros will be tough to beat. Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez, Kyle Tucker, and Jose Altuve are as good as any foursome in baseball, while pitchers Justin Verlander and Lance McCullers lead a staff with plenty of exciting young arms.

2021 Season

Season Preview: George Springer left Houston to become a free agent, but the Astros believe that young stars Kyle Tucker and Yordan Alvarez will make up for his loss. The big concern for 2021 is whether infielders Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, and Carlos Correa can play like they did in 2019. That will make the difference between a division crown and a second straight losing season.

2020 Season

Season Recap: The Astros barely made the playoffs, finishing 29–31. They heated up at just the right time, however, and wiped out the Twins and Athletics in the playoffs—making it all the way to Game 7 of the American League Championship Series. They lost that game to the Rays 4–2, but it was still a great season, all things considered. The Astros began the year under the cloud of a sign-stealing scandal and were fortunate that they played their games in empty stadiums. New manager Dusty Baker kept his players focused and discovered exciting young stars in outfielder Kyle Tucker and pitchers Cristian Javier and Framber Valdez.

Season Preview: All eyes will be on the Astros’ hitters in 2020 after they were caught breaking the rules by “stealing” the pitching signs of visiting teams. Infielders Carlos Correa, Jose Altuve, and Alex Bregman will lead the offense, along with outfielder George Springer. The pitching staff will rely on Justin Verlander, Lance McCullers, and Zack Greinke following Gerrit Cole’s move to the Yankees. Cristian Javier, a strikeout machine in the minors last year, could be the difference-maker Houston needs to hang on to first place.

2019 Season

Season Recap: The Astros began the season as the favorites to win the pennant, and they did just that Houston won with excellent power, speed, and pitching. Alex Bregman hit 41 home runs and became one of the best all-around players in the game. Rookie Yordan Alvarez hit 27 home runs in just 87 games after being called up from the minors. Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander were both 20-game winners, while Roberto Osuna saved 38 games. Jose Altuve hit three home runs in the Division Series against the Tampa Bay Rays, and won the pennant with a walk-off home run against the Yankees in the ALCS. After dropping two games at home in the World Series, the Astros swept all three road games against the Washington Nationals. However, they could not close out the series back in Houston and lost 4 games to 3.

September 29, 2019: Gerrit Cole set a record with his ninth double-digit strikeout game in a row. The old record was shared by Chris Sale and Pedro Martinez.

September 28, 2019: Justin Verlander became the 18th pitcher with 3,000 career strikeouts. He also struck out his 300th batter of the season.

September 17, 2019: At 24, reliever Roberto Osuna became the youngest player to save 150 games.

September 1, 2019: Justin Verlander tossed his third no-hitter, beating the Blue Jays 2–0 in Toronto.

August 3, 2019: Four Astros pitchers combined to throw a no-hitter against the Seattle Mariners. Aaron Sanchez, Will Harris, Joe Biagini, and Chris Devenski teamed up for the 12th no-hitter in Houston history.

July 22, 2019: Gerrit Cole became the second-fasted pitcher to reach 200 strikeouts in a season. He fanned number 200 in 133 1/3 innings. Randy Johnson hold the record at 130 innings.

Season Preview: The Astros lost three important pitchers during the off-season but still have the best team in the division. Houston hitters specialize in putting the ball in play and creating runs. Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve played hurt much of 2018. They should be 100 percent in 2019, joining Alex Bregman, George Springer, and newcomer Michael Brantley in an awesome lineup. Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole are as good as any two starters in the AL.

2018 Season

Season Recap: The Astros fell just short of a return trip to the World Series in 2018, losing in the ALCS to the Red Sox. Alex Bregman led a balanced hitting attack with a team-high 31 homers and 103 RBIs. Injuries to Jose Altuve and Carlos Correia slowed Houston at times, but the starting pitching was among the best in baseball. Justin Verlander made the All-Star team for the first time since 2013 and led the AL with 290 strikeouts.

March 29, 2018: George Springer hit a leadoff homer on Opening Day for the second year in a row. No one had ever done that before.

Season Preview: The world champions may be even better than they were last season. The start 2018 with the same power-packed lineup and have added strikeout artists Gerrit Cole. And he is probably their third-best pitcher, behind Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander. If shortstop Carlos Correa can remain healthy all year, he has a shot at the MVP award. The only weakness the team did not address over the winter is a shaky bullpen.

2017 Season

Season Recap: Four years after moving from the NL to the AL, the Astros won the pennant and defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series, 4 games to 3. Houston built a powerful batting order around players who had “grown up” together, including George Springer, Carlos Correa, Dallas Keuchel, Alex Bregman, and superstar Jose Altuve. Veteran stars Justin Verlander, Brian McCann, Josh Reddick, Charlie Morton, and Carlos Beltran gave the team experienced leadership. The championship was the first for the team, which played its first season in 1962.

October 1, 2017: Jose Altuve finished the year as the AL leader in hits for the fourth season in a row. He also won his third batting title in four seasons.

August 28, 2017: In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, the Astros announced that they would play their home series against the Texas Rangers at Tropicana Field, the home of the Tampa Bay Rays.

August 3, 2017: Infielder Yulieski Gurriel was named AL Rookie of the Month for July, breaking a three-month streak by Aaron Judge of the Yankees. Jose Altuve was named AL Player of the Month for July after batting .485 in 23 games.

June 1, 2017: Carlos Correa was named AL Player of the Month for May and Lance McCullers Jr. was named AL Pitcher of the Month for May.

2016 Season

November 1, 2016: The young Astros took a small step backwards in 2016, with 84 wins and a third-place finish. Jose Altuve had an MVP-quality year, winning his second batting championship and leading the league in hits for the third year in a row. The big problem was the bullpen, which was not dependable in close games.

2015 Season

October 4, 2015: Carlos Correia broke Lance Berkman’s team record for home runs by a rookie, with 22.

September 27, 2015: Dallas Keuchel became the first pitcher in history to go 15–0 in his home ballpark.

April 5, 2015: Houston has been rebuilding for several seasons. Is this the year that it all comes together? Young George Springer became a star in 2014. If two or three more rookies can earn starting jobs, the Astros could make trouble for the other clubs in the AL West.

2014 Season

November 1, 2014: Houston continued with its plan to stockpile young talent in 2014, and some of its future stars began to display their talents. George Springer, Jonathan Singleton, Jason Castro, Matt Domingez and Jake Marisnick got regular playing time, while veterans Jose Altuve and Chris Carter had big years at the plate. Houston’s pitching was led by Dallas Keuchel and Collin McHugh.

September 16, 2014: Jose Altuve broke Craig Biggio’s team record of 210 hits in a season set in 1998. He finished the year with 225 hits and was the leading batter in the American League, with a .341 average. Altuve also led the AL with 56 stolen bases.

May 29, 2014: Rookie George Springer belted his seventh home run in seven games. The only other rookie to hit seven homers in seven games was Rudy York of the Tigers 81 years earlier.

March 31, 2014: Houston fans have waited a long time for their young Astros to be competitive, and this looks like it’s finally the year. Although they won’t be pennant contenders, they have the talent to play a spoiler role in the AL Central. Newcomer Dexter Fowler joins second baseman Jose Altuve as the offensive stars in a lineup that could soon get help from prospects Jonathan Singleton and George Springer.

2013 Season

October 1, 2013: As expected, the Astros stumbled through another rebuilding year during their first season in the American League. The club set new standards for strikeouts (by batters, not pitchers), and lost 11 games. On the bright side, Houston got good seasons from rising stars Matt Dominguez, Jason Castro, Jose Altuve and Chris Carter.

September 14, 2013: Houston set a new record for strikeouts by a team during a season with two weeks to go in 2013. The record had been set just one year earlier by the Oakland A’s.

March 30, 2013: After 51 seasons in the National League, the Astros moved to the AL in 2013. After watching many aging stars struggle through disappointing seasons, Houston fans will get a glimpse of the future, as the club has given many of its top prospects everyday jobs—including Matt Dominguez, Chris Carter, and Jordan Lyles.

2012 Season

October 3, 2012: It was a long season for the Astros and their fans. The team let its young players get valuable experience, but the result was 107 losses. It was the team’s 51st season in the NL, ad also their last. The team will move to the AL in 2013, led by Jose Altuve, J.D. Martinez, Matt Dominguez, Jordan Lyles, and Lucas Harrell.

April, 2012: The Astros traded their best relief pitcher, Mark Melancon, for Boston shortstop Jed Lowrie. So the question is, who will become the team’s closer in the bullpen? The candidates include Brandon Lyon, Wilton Lopez, Juan Abreu, Fernando Rodriguez, and anyone else who can throw strikes under pressure.

More Go-To Guys

Joe Morgan was amazing when he played for the Astros. He refused to swing at a pitch unless it was exactly where he wanted it. That is really unusual for a young player on a so-so team. (Topps, Inc.)

Jose Cruz’s son, Jose Jr., grew up in Houston and ended up playing for Rice University. Jose Jr. was in the same college outfield as Lance Berkman and Mark Quinn. All three made it to the big leagues. (Houston Astros)

When Kevin Bass got on one of his hot streaks, he was one scary dude. (Topps, Inc.)

For many years, Donruss put paintings of the year’s top players on trading cards and called them Diamond Kings—like this one of Glenn Davis. I don’t think the cards ever really caught on. (Donruss/Panini)

  • Rusty Staub — Outfielder
    Born: 4/1/1944
    Played for Team: 1963 to 1968
    Rusty Staub was just 19 when he joined Houston, but he soon became the team’s best hitter. Staub led the NL in doubles in 1967 and played in two All-Star Games as an Astro.

  • Joe Morgan — Second Baseman
    Born: 9/19/1943
    Played for Team: 1963 to 1971 & 1980
    Joe Morgan was one of baseball’s most patient hitters. He led the NL in walks his first full year with the team. Morgan later became one of the game’s best basestealers. He was an All-Star twice for the Astros.

  • Joe Niekro — Pitcher
    Born: 11/7/1944
    Died: 10/27/2006
    Played for Team: 1975 to 1985
    Joe Niekro spent half of his 22 big-league seasons with the Astros. He had one of baseball’s greatest knuckleballs. Niekro won 20 games twice for Houston and was runner-up to Bruce Sutter in the 1979 NL Cy Young Award voting.

  • Jose Cruz — Outfielder
    Born: 8/8/1947
    Played for Team: 1975 to 1987
    Jose Cruz was the team’s best clutch hitter for many years. He was one of three brothers who played in the major leagues, and his son, Jose Jr., also was a big leaguer.

  • Terry Puhl — Outfielder
    Born: 7/8/1956
    Played for Team: 1977 to 1990
    Terry Puhl was a swift runner, a great clutch hitter and a very good outfielder. His finest moment came in a losing cause during the 1980 playoffs. He batted .526 against the Philadelphia Phillies in the National League Championship Series, which was a record at the time.

  • Kevin Bass — Outfielder
    Born: 5/22/1959
    Played for Team: 1982 to 1989 & 1993 to 1994
    When the Astros traded Don Sutton to get Kevin Bass, Houston fans thought they were crazy. Bass turned out to be a bargain—he gave the lineup excellent power and speed. In 1987, Bass became the 15th switch-hitter to belt homers from both sides of the plate in the same game.

  • Bill Doran — Second Baseman
    Born: 5/28/1958
    Played for Team: 1982 to 1990
    Bill Doran was the player who sparked the Houston offense in the 1980s. He was good at getting on base and very aggressive on the basepaths. Doran could also hit the ball over the fence if a pitcher made a mistake.

  • Mike Scott — Pitcher
    Born: 4/26/1955
    Played for Team: 1983 to 1991
    Mike Scott threw a fastball that dipped sharply as it neared home plate. When he had command of this pitch, he was practically unhittable. In 1986, Scott struck out 303 batters and threw a no-hitter. He was an easy pick for the NL Cy Young Award that season.

  • Glenn Davis — First Baseman
    Born: 3/28/1961
    Played for Team: 1984 to 1990
    Glenn Davis was one of the league’s best power hitters during the 1980s. In 1986, he was runner-up to MIke Schmidt in the NL MVP voting. Davis hit 20 or more homers for the Astros six years in a row.

  • Jose Altuve — Second Baseman
    Born: 5/6/1990
    First Season with Team: 2011
    Jose Altuve is one of the smallest players in the game, but he has a talent for making bug hits when the Astros need them most. He had the league’s highest batting average in the league in 2014, 2016, and 2017 and was named AL MVP in 2017.

More Fun Facts

Whoa! Nellie Fix looks like my grandfather on this card. (Topps, Inc.)

This was the last card for Jim Umbricht before he passed away. (Topps, Inc.)

    Houston fans got to see some of the biggest stars of the 1950s in the team’s early years, including Nellie Fox, Robin Roberts, Pete Runnels, Bobby Shantz, Billy Goodman, Don Larsen, and Frank Thomas. Unfortunately, it was the 1960s—and all were in the final years of their careers.

    In 1974, Mike Schmidt of the Philadelphia Phillies smashed a long drive that was heading over the fence when it hit a speaker on the Astrodome ceiling, 117 feet above the field. Instead of a home run, Schmidt had to settle for a single.

  • AREA 51
    In 2000, catcher Tony Eusebio set a team record with a 24-game hitting streak. Because Eusebio did not play every day, the streak lasted 51 days.

  • OUCH!
    In 2005, Craig Biggio was hit by a pitch ball for the 268th time in his career. He became the owner of baseball’s most painful record that day—no one in the modern era had ever been “plunked” more often. Biggio retired in 2007 with 285 HBP’s to his credit.

    In the years before the baseball draft, teams had to compete to sign young players. Houston wanted Rusty Staub so badly that they gave him a $50,000 bonus—plus they signed his brother and gave his father a job!

    IIn 1963, doctors told Houston pitcher Jim Umbricht that he was dying of cancer. He underwent an operation and pitched the entire season. Umbricht won four games and had a 2.61 ERA. He passed away the following spring. Today, no Astro is allowed to wear his number (32), and the Jim Umbricht Award is given to the team’s MVP.

League Leaders

In the 1990s, we saw Jeff Bagwell and his wife eating in a Houston restaurant. My 2-year-old daughter walked up to their table and just stared at his beard for like 5 minutes. (Black Book Partners)

Roy Oswalt relaxes in the dugout during his days as an Astro. My friend John Klein took some amazing shots of players sitting back and watching their teammates, and this is one of them. (Black Book Partners/John Klein)

  • Home Runs
    No Astro has led the league in home runs.

  • Batting Average
    2014 — Jose Altuve — .341
    2016 — Jose Altuve —.338
    2017 — Jose Altuve —.346

  • Runs Batted In
    1994 — Jeff Bagwell — 116
    2002 — Lance Berkman — 128

  • Stolen Bases
    1994 — Craig Biggio — 39
    2009 — Michael Bourn — 61
    2010 — Michael Bourn — 52
    2011 — Michael Bourn — 61*
    2014 — Jose Altuve — 56
    2015 — Jose Altuve — 38

    * Bourn also played for the Atlanta Braves in 2011.

  • Wins
    1979 — Joe Niekro — 21
    1989 — Mike Scott — 20
    1999 — Mike Hampton — 22
    2004 — Roy Oswalt — 20
    2015 — Dallas Keuchel — 20
    2019 — Justin Verlander — 21
    2022 — Justin Verlander — 18

  • Strikeouts
    1978 — J.R. Richard — 303
    1979 — J.R. Richard — 313
    1986 — Mike Scott — 306
    1987 — Nolan Ryan — 270
    1988 — Nolan Ryan — 228
    2018 — Justin Verlander — 290
    2019 — Gerrit Cole — 326

  • Earned Run Average
    1979 — J.R. Richard — 2.71
    1981 — Nolan Ryan — 1.69
    1986 — Mike Scott — 2.22
    1987 — Nolan Ryan — 2.76
    1990 — Danny Darwin — 2.21
    2005 — Roger Clemens — 1.87
    2006 — Roy Oswalt — 2.98
    2019 — Gerrit Cole — 2.50
    2022 — Justin Verlander — 1.75

Astros In The World Series

2005 Chicago White Sox Lost 4–0
2017 Los Angeles Dogers Won 4–3
2019 Washington Nationals Lost 4–3

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