THE ASTROS ALL-TIME TEAM - FIRST BASE

Starter: Jeff Bagwell

(c) Houston Astros
Seasons: 1991-2002
380 HR, 1321 RBI, .302 AVG

Key comments:
"A real no-brainer. He’s the best player in franchise history."

"He also has the best judgment of any base runner ever to wear a Houston uniform"

"Bagwell is a first ballot hall of famer"

"Is there any doubt?"

Runner-up (tie): Glenn Davis

(c) Houston Astros
Seasons: 1984-1990
166 HR, 518 RBI, .262 AVG

Key comments:
"Because of his power, Davis made the Astros teams of those years dangerous all by himself"

"The “Big Bopper” had electric power "

Runner-up (tie): Bob Watson

(c) Houston Astros
Seasons: 1966-1979
139 HR, 782 RBI, .297 AVG

Key comments:
"A dangerous hitter for high average with respectable power."

"More versatile than Glenn Davis and hit for a higher average."

Other mentions : Rusty Staub, Lee May, Ray Knight

Full comments:

Gene Elston: Jeff Bagwell & Rusty Staub

Bob Hulsey:
Starter - Jeff Bagwell (R): Is there any doubt? Backup - Bob Watson (R): More versatile than Glenn Davis and hit for a higher average.

Greg Lucas:
Jeff Bagwell...the easiest pick in the whole exercise. But I choose Bob Watson as his backup based on longevity in a close decision over Glenn Davis with Lee May a distant fourth.

Michael Nash:
Quite simply, Jeff Bagwell is the finest hitter in the history of Houston Astros baseball and an excellent all-around player. Will likely be cited at the end of his career as the best first baseman in the history of the National League.

Bill McCurdy:
Starter: Jeff Bagwell. A real no-brainer. He’s the best player in franchise history. Backup: Glenn Davis is a close pick over better hitter Bob Watson. The “Big Bopper” had electric power and was a better defensive guy than Watson.

Ray Kerby:
Jeff Bagwell has to be the easiest pick on the team. He's probably the best first baseman in NL history, leaving the real work at deciding who is runner-up should be. I choose Bob Watson over Glenn Davis. Although Davis was a feared slugger on better teams, Watson was a dangerous hitter for high average with respectable power. He gets the nod over Davis for his hitting and his longer tenure with the team.

Jeff Burk:
Jeff Bagwell & Bob Watson. Bagwell (OPS+ 168) is obvious. Watson (OPS+ 139) ranks ahead of Glenn Davis (OPS+ 138) because although they played a comparable number of games at first base for the Astros, Watson played many more games and seasons with the Astros overall.

Andy Tomczeszyn:
Jeff Bagwell, Glenn Davis. Bagwell is a first ballot hall of famer, despite the wags who would bring up post season hitting stats. Davis, aka The Big Bopper, was the power behind my favorite Astros team in 1986. He won the first game (with a little help from Mike Scott) of the playoffs and for a couple of years was the only offense the Astros could muster.

Darrell Pittman:
Choosing Jeff Bagwell is a no-brainer. He's a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer, hands down, the greatest slugger Houston's ever had, and arguably the best first-baseman (defensively) of his generation, even though he came up as a third-baseman. The strike of 1994 robbed Jeff of what would have been his greatest season ever.

Before Bagwell, Glenn Davis was the club's best-ever slugger, but stood out in an age when the club made its living playing "small ball" in the Dome. Honorable mention: Rusty Staub, Ray Knight.

John Lauck:
Jeff Bagwell & Glenn Davis. If you believe the editors of Total Baseball--and I do--Bagwell is already one of the hundred greatest players who ever played the game. That distinction is marvelous in itself and will remain a compliment to Bagwell even if, by some horrifying injustice, he doesn’t get voted into the Hall Of Fame after he retires. Offensively, Bagwell is like clockwork--literally--even now, toward the end of his career. Nearly always a slow starter in any given year, Bagwell nevertheless cranks it up by late May or early June, and has 30-35 homers and 100 RBI by the end of the season. The way he accomplishes those feats--his personal style--is also noteworthy. Bagwell is not one to celebrate a homer or other big hit as many contemporary players do; he just gets the hit. That same low-key style applies to the other noteworthy and underrated facets of his game: his defense over at first base and his base running. Bagwell will never be recognized as a Gold Glove-quality first baseman, but he is. He has saved countless errors by his fellow infielders through his ability to dig the ball out of the dirt. His equally countless throws to the pitcher covering on a 3-1 putout are the best I have ever seen made by any major league first baseman, a claim that I would still make even in light of Bagwell’s recent shoulder injury. He also has the best judgment of any base runner ever to wear a Houston uniform, including those speedy runners of the past: Sonny Jackson, Cesar Cedeno, or Dickie Thon. His ability to determine when to steal a base, when to move from first to third on a hit, and when to advance on a wild pitch or sacrifice fly is unmatched. When you put all these elements of the game together--hitting, defense, base running--Bagwell grades out as the best all-around player the Astros have ever had, and the one most likely to be enshrined in Cooperstown.

His backup, Davis, although clearly not the player Bagwell is, performed much the same function for the lineup of the Astros in the 1980s that Jack Clark did during those same years for the St. Louis Cardinals--the power hitter, surrounded by singles and doubles hitters with speed. Although the Astros had had power-laden teams from 1972 through 1974, Davis’s emergence in the lineup broke a ten-year drought for Astros fans who yearned to see the organization find someone, anyone, who could hit the ball out of the park every once in a while. Because of his power, Davis made the Astros teams of those years dangerous all by himself, especially in road games. He was also solid defensively.