THE ASTROS ALL-TIME TEAM - OUTFIELD

Starter, Left Field: Jose Cruz

(c) Houston Astros
Seasons: 1975-87
138 HR, 942 RBI, 288 SB

Key comments:
"Our best hitter for practically a decade"

"The quintessential Astro"

"Was a fixture in the outfield about 30 seconds after arriving from St. Louis"

Starter, Center Field: Cesar Cedeno

(c) Houston Astros
Seasons: 1970-81
163 HR, 778 RBI, 487 SB

Key comments:
"Perhaps the best “all-around” player in Astro history."

"Probably the very best athlete to ever don an Astros uniform. What an amazing talent."

"He could run, throw, catch, hit for for average, and hit for power."

Starter, Right Field: Jim Wynn

(c) Houston Astros
Seasons: 1963-73
223 HR, 719 RBI, 180 SB

Key comments:
"Would have been known as "Hall of Famer, Jimmy Wynn" if he had played his home games anywhere but the Astrodome"

"The Toy Cannon stands alone as a power hitter during the team's first 24 years."

"No park could hold his blasts when he connected."

Backup: Lance Berkman

(c) Houston Astros
Seasons: 1999-2002
101 HR, 336 RBI, .304 AVG

Key comments:
"Has the complete package up at the plate--power to all fields from both sides of the dish, and the patience to content himself with a single or take a walk when it’s offered"

"Will end up the very finest hitter the organization has ever developed if he stays healthy"

Backup: Moises Alou

(c) Houston Astros
Seasons: 1998-2001
95 HR, 346 RBI, .331 AVG

Key comments:
"Possibly the best pure hitter ever to put on an Astros uniform"

"The three seasons he spent with the Astros were nothing short of spectacular"

Other mentions : Terry Puhl, Steve Finley, Luis Gonzalez, Kevin Bass, Billy Hatcher

Full comments:

Gene Elston: LF - Jose Cruz -- CF - Cesar Cedeno - Steve Finley - RF - Terry Puhl - Luiz Gonzalez.

Greg Lucas: CF- Cesar Cedeno. Perhaps the best “all-around” player in Astro history
OF- Jimmy Wynn-- the Toy Cannon was ahead of his time. He WAS the power in the Houston lineup
OF- Jose Cruz-- very steady with speed...hit for average and some power. Not in the class defensively of Cedeno or Wynn.
OF- Lance Berkman- just last two seasons earn him this spot. If healthy could end career as best Astro hitter of all time.
OF- Moises Alou- can’t argue with numbers for most of his short time with Astros. Neither Terry Puhl nor Kevin Bass could approach what Alou did in his short Astro career.

Bob Hulsey: Center Fielder: Starter: Cesar Cedeno (R): Arguably still the most talented player in team history. Backup: Jim Wynn (R): The Toy Cannon stands alone as a power hitter during the team's first 24 years.

Corner Outfielders: Left Fielder: Jose Cruz (L): Our best hitter for practically a decade. Right Fielder: Lance Berkman (S): Can't argue with his numbers. Backup: Moises Alou (R): Three outstanding seasons...

Jeff Burk: 1. Jose Cruz (LF). 2. Cesar Cedeno (CF). 3. Jimmy Wynn (RF). 4. Lance Berkman. 5. Terry Puhl

Six Astros outfielders have performed at a high level offensively: Cruz (OPS+ 134), Cedeno (OPS+ 138), Wynn (OPS+ 141), Moises Alou (OPS+ 156), Berkman (OPS+ 151), and Carl Everett (OPS+ 145). Cruz, Cedeno, and Wynn each played at least twice as many games in the Astros outfield as Alou, Berkman, and Everett. Of the latter three, Berkman is the premier player. Terry Puhl (OPS+ 120) makes the squad with the second-most games played of any Astros outfielder.

Michael Nash: Left Field – Jose Cruz. Cheo, Chop-Chop… Classic.

Center Field – Cesar Cedeno. Probably the very best athlete to ever don an Astros uniform. What an amazing talent.

Right Field – Jim Wynn. In another ballpark, who knows how many HRs this 170lb dynamo would have hit?

Outfield Bench – Lance Berkman, Moises Alou. Alou’s short tenure keeps him off the starting lineup but Berkman will end up the very finest hitter the organization has ever developed if he stays healthy (knock wood).

Andy Tomczeszyn: Jose Cruz, Jimmy Wynn, Cesar Cedeno, Moises Alou, Lance Berkman. This is harder than it should have been, mainly because I have to leave off Terry Puhl. Cruz is Mister Astro, and was a fixture in the outfield about 30 seconds after arriving from St. Louis. Jimmy Wynn would have been known as "Hall of Famer, Jimmy Wynn" if he had played his home games anywhere but the Astrodome. Cedeno was possibly the greatest all around talent ever to play for the Astros. His star didn't shine as long as the others, but it did burn more brightly. Alou and Berkman are my backups. Alou, regardless of his inability to smile, put together in a brief time three of the best Astros season, stat wise. Berkman may be here too early, but he's also had more production in three seasons than some of the Astros outfielders had in the 80's.

Ray Kerby: Starters: Jim Wynn, Cesar Cedeno, and Jose Cruz. Wynn could have been a Hall of Famer in any other park. A tremendous power hitter who could steal bases and had a cannon for an arm, Wynn was the team's most feared hitter in the Sixties. Cedeno was the greatest talent the team has seen, but injuries and personal problems kept him from becoming the next Willie Mays. Cruz was a great, underrated hitter who became one of the most popular players in team history.

Backups: Lance Berkman, Terry Puhl. There seems to be no limit to Berkman's potential, but that's exactly what I thought about Richard Hidalgo after the 2000 season. I'm optimistic he'll become a great player, year after year. Puhl had a lot of very productive years with the team, and his longevity and defensive skills give him the nod over Moises Alou -- a much better hitter but a poor fielder.

Darrell Pittman: LF: Jose Cruz. In my book, Jose Cruz is the quintessential Astro. A castoff of the Cardinals program, Cruz came to the Astros in 1975 and led them from the dregs of the National League to its pinnacle in 1980 in the NLCS against the Phillies, and against the Mets in 1986.

CF: Cesar Cedeno. While perhaps the initial expectations of him ("the next Willie Mays") were unfair and perhaps unfounded, Cesar Cedeno carried the Astros clubs of the late 1970s. No one patrolled center-field as well for the Astros as did he.

RF: Moises Alou. Possibly the best pure hitter ever to put on an Astros uniform, Alou was plagued by injury during his tenure with the Astros late in his career, then suffered accusations of "dogging it" on defense, and lack of agressiveness base-running. Still, his offensive numbers (when healthy) more than make up for that in my mind.

OF: Kevin Bass. An indispensible part of the 1986 club, Bass delivered several key hits in that club's run to glory. Bass had the dubious distinction of ending the Astros' 1986 season by striking out to end the 16-inning game against the Mets, but that is more that made up for by his hustle in voluntarily passing on an opportunity to hit for the cycle by stretching out a routine single into double.

OF: Billy Hatcher. Hatcher got the game-tying homer in the 14th inning of the epic 16-inning 1986 NLCS Game 6 against the Mets. Two years later, he would be exposed to be using a corked bat, earning him the nickname "Corky", and a suspension, but still, his places in the '86 NLCS, and his pluckiness around the basepaths, earn him a reserve position on this all-time team.

Bill McCurdy: Center Field: Cesar Cedeno. Simply the best center fielder in franchise history. He could run, throw, catch, hit for for average, and hit for power. The old saying that a “walk was as good as a double” was often quite appropriately applied to Cesar. All that being said, we are left to wonder why Cedeno wasn’t also one of the greatest center fielders to ever play the game.

Left Field: Jose Cruz. “Senor Franchise” in my book. His hitting for average and pop was a big reason for the team’s relative success during the period of his Astros career.

Right Field: Lance Berkman. At his current rate of progress, Lance potentially could be the best all around player in Astros history. The combination of his intelligence and more experience will only make him a better hitter. If we could ever plant him in one of the corner posts and remove all the running he has to do in center field, I think he would improve even faster.

Outfield Backups: Jim Wynn was often referred to as a junior-sized Willie Mays, and more famously as “The Toy Cannon” for all the power he packed in his small, but tightly muscular frame. I’d love to see a prime time Jimmy hitting at Minute Maid Park.

Terry Puhl was another smart guy who played right field intelligently and had a pretty good gun for an arm. He hit for average and was a clutch guy when it came to hitting in crucial game situations.

John Lauck: Left Field: Starter: Jose Cruz. Backup: Lance Berkman.

Until the arrival of Biggio in 1988 and Bagwell in 1991, Cruz was considered by nearly everyone--the fans, the media, and the players themselves-- as the best all-around player in Houston history. Who knows? There might still be a few Astro-watchers around who would continue to make that claim. When the Astros got Cruz from the Cardinals in 1975, he was not a great outfielder, but he worked and worked at it. Ultimately as his defensive skills improved, he became the heart and soul of the Astros, literally doing whatever the team needed to be done. If the team needed a clutch single, there was Cruz pulling one to right or slapping the ball the other way. If Houston needed a homer, Cruz could muscle up and drive the ball out of the park. If the situation demanded a steal, it would be Cruz doing the pilfering. If the club needed a big catch to save its collective hide, there would be Cruz, his hat flying back in the breeze, racing into the LCF gap to take the double or triple away. Cruz did all these things for 19 years (13 as an Astro), during which time he hardly ever missed a game. He led the team in batting average six times (1977-79, 1983-85); he led the team in hits four times; he led the team in RBI four times; he led the team in homers three times. His career Total Player Rating is 28.6. (As an Astro, it’s 27.2). That figure, although it is not near Bagwell’s 45.2 or even Biggio’s 35.6, is highly respectable, and stands as a solid indicator of Cruz’s near-great status as a player, a status he achieved with remarkably little fanfare.

His backup is not really a backup at all. The only reason that Berkman is not starting ahead of Cruz in this selection of players is that he has yet to produce terrific statistics season after season, as Cruz has. But none of us doubt that Berkman is on the way to doing just that. Although Berkman has spent a great deal of time in centerfield, he is a left fielder by trade, and putting him here allows me to honor Astros who should be honored at the other outfield positions. Berkman has the complete package up at the plate--power to all fields from both sides of the dish, and the patience to content himself with a single or take a walk when it’s offered. All he needs to become not only Houston’s greatest hitter but also one of the greatest hitters in the history of the game is better conditioning to withstand the rigors of 162 games, and the blessings of heaven to avoid serious injury over what we all hope will be a long career.

Center Field: Starter: Jim Wynn. Backup: Cesar Cedeno.

Total Baseball thinks quite highly of Jim Wynn. In fact, the editors’ career TPR of 35.9 for Wynn is slightly ahead of Biggio’s 35.6, and they have Wynn measured as the National League’s best player in 1969, which he certainly was, with a TPR of 6.4. Much of Wynn’s rating takes into account the difficulty of hitting in the Astrodome under its old configuration in the 1960s, a circumstance that we who witnessed Wynn’s prodigious homers or watched his play in the outfield did not always acknowledge at the time. How Wynn generated his power remains a minor mystery. Usually, one would look toward the player’s legs to find it, but Wynn had upper-body strength, too. Whatever its source, Wynn’s power was such that no park could hold his blasts when he connected. He was never a great hitter as far as average is concerned--in the .260s and .270s at his best--but pitchers were so conscious of the threat he posed as a home run hitter (37 in 1967, 33 in 1969) that he always drew a high number of walks, leading the majors in 1969 with 148 of them. Add his career OBA (.369) to his career SLG percentage (.436) and factor in his fifteen-year career fielding percentage of .981 and you’ll have some idea why Wynn, after laboring for only a handful of good teams over a long period of time, is now as well thought of as he is by baseball’s historians. All I knew as a young teenager was that, in Willie Mays’s phrase, when they threw it, Wynn could hit it, and when they hit it, Wynn could catch it.

His sub on this team, Cesar Cedeno, was in fact considered by many to be “the next Willie Mays” when he came up to the Astros at the age of nineteen in 1970. The weight of such a historical legacy is a tremendous burden for any young player to bear. Contrary to the opnions of many fans and members of the media, I believe Cedeno bore that burden well. His career lasted seventeen solid seasons, the first twelve of which were spent with Houston. Although sometimes hindered by injury, Cedeno was often a marvel when he was healthy. He, like Wynn, could do anything that was necessary on a baseball diamond. He had power (though not the power of Wynn); he hit for average; he had speed and a fine arm. Mays he did not turn out to be, but his TPR of 31.3 is a high ranking, and had he not broken an ankle during the 1980 NLCS, he and his team almost certainly would have had either a National League pennant or a World Series title to add to their list of achievements that year.

Right Field: Starter: Moises Alou.

There have been three players in Astros history whose acquisition electrified the city of Houston and all of those who follow Astros baseball: one was Nolan Ryan, signed as a free agent before the 1980 season to lead Houston to its first playoff series; another was Randy Johnson, acquired on July 31, 1998 from the Seattle Mariners to solidify what was already going to be an NL Central-winning team and get it to the World Series. The third was Moises Alou, a surprise pickup from the dismantling of the Florida Marlins’ 1997 World Series championship team. The day Alou was acquired in a trade for three minor-league prospects was the day I knew the Astros were destined for the World Series. I thought Alou could make that much of a difference to Houston’s lineup, even in the Astrodome; and he almost did. Never a great fielder (although he is a respectable right fielder), Alou was born to hit. Injuries have dogged his career everywhere he’s been and wiped out two years of his baseball life, including 1999 with Houston, but the three seasons (1998, 2000-2001) he spent with the Astros were nothing short of spectacular: (.331/95/346; .988 OPS). Despite the brevity of his time with the club, his productivity during those years earns him a place on the all-time team.