THE ASTROS ALL-TIME TEAM - SHORTSTOP

Starter: Dickie Thon

(c) Houston Astros
Seasons: 1981-87
226 runs, .270 AVG, 94 SB

Key comments:
"The best and perhaps the only pure shortstop in Astros history"

"By far the best hitter at the position"

"Could hit for average, hit for power, throw, steal bases, and field his position cleanly"

Backup: Roger Metzger

(c) Houston Astros
Seasons: 1971-78
407 runs, .229 AVG, 64 SB

Key comments:
"Smooth as flowing water when going back in the hole or turning a double play, with a fine, accurate arm"

"Gets the nod for longevity and defense"

Other mentions : Craig Reynolds, Denis Menke, Ricky Gutierrez

Full comments:

Gene Elston: Roger Metzger & Dickie Thon.

Bill McCurdy:
Starter: Dickie Thon was no where near the best defensive shortstop in Astros history, but his 1983 year showed promise of his future as a power hitting, good batting average player. Were it not for the tragedy of 1984, the sky had been the limit on his potential.

Backup: Craig Reynolds was a good field, clutch hitting shortstop who could play almost any position on the field. For those reasons, I chose him as my backup over the best defensive shortstop in franchise history, Roger Metzger.

Michael Nash:
Dickie Thon & Craig Reynolds. I hate Mike Torrez and will until the day I die. Dickie Thon was Barry Larkin before there was any hint of Barry Larkin.

Darrell Pittman:
Dickie Thon was the best and perhaps the only pure shortstop in Astros history. If only he hadn't been beaned...

Bob Hulsey:
Starter - Denis Menke (R): Any other 90-RBI guys to select at this position? Backup: Craig Reynolds (L): He and Roger Metzger were our best defensive shortstops among those who held the position very long.

Greg Lucas:
Dickie Thon is a weak #1 for me only because his career was not long enough. Craig Reynolds whose career was longer and part of some good teams gets the #2 job. Ricky Gutierrez was also a key to some winners but is #3. Earlier Astro shortstops simply didnít hang around long enough...or hit well enough (Roger Metzger) for my vote. This is one of the toughest positions to fill and the #1 spot is prime for a new name in the future.

Ray Kerby:
Dickie Thon was the best shortstop in a weak field. His breakout season in 1983 validated his potential, but he was one Mike Torrez fastball away from being a perennial All-Star. Roger Metzger gets the nod over Craig Reynolds for the backup spot. Both were atrocious hitters, but Metzger was better defensively and played more seasons for the team.

Jeff Burk:
Dickie Thon & Roger Metzger.Despite his career-debilitating injury, Thon played more games as the Astros shortstop than anyone but Metzger, Craig Reynolds, and Rafael Ramirez and was by far the best hitter at the position (OPS+ 114). Metzger played longer and more regularly than any other Astros shortstop, and although his offense was poor (OPS+ 73), he is the only player in franchise history to win a Gold Glove at shortstop.

Andy Tomczeszyn:
Roger Metzger, Dickie Thon. Maybe someday, the Astros will be able to pencil in Julio Lugo everyday, and he'll be the 2000's version of Omar Vizquel, but until farm animals start jumping out of bodily orifices, there's not much to choose from here. Metzger gets the nod for longevity and defense, and Thon for having the single best season at SS for the Astros.

John Lauck:
Dickie Thon & Roger Metzger. This position is one of the most difficult, and perhaps controversial, positions to fill on the team. The Astros have not had, during their history, many good, all-around shortstops--those who can field expertly and contribute in measurable ways on offense (a statement, it must be said, that is true of most shortstops in the history of major league baseball). Houston was on its way to developing one of those rare shortstops when it traded for Dickie Thon out of the Angelsí system in the early 1980s. Thonís 1983 season (.286/20/79) was breathtaking--a joyful experience for those of us who remember the Astrosí long, frustrating search to find a solid fielder and hitter for the position after Bob Lillis started the franchise off from 1962 through 1964. (Eddie Kasko, Sonny Jackson, Hector Torres, Denis Menke, Roger Metzger, and Craig Reynolds all tried to fill Houstonís needs at short in those following years, but with wildly varying degrees of success. When Thon blossomed in í83, however, Astro fans finally saw what we now call ďa five-tool playerĒ at short. Here was a guy who could hit for average, hit for power, throw, steal bases, and field his position cleanly. All of those skills, however, were nearly taken away from Thon in early 1984, when the Metsí Mike Torrez beaned him with a pitch and damaged his vision. It was a sad, terrifying moment in the Dome, one that linked Astros fans with those of other generations in Cleveland and Boston, who saw similar talents wiped away by a line drive that struck Indiansí pitcher Herb Score in the eye in 1954 and a head-high pitch that damaged Tony Conigliaroís eyesight beyond repair in 1968. Thon courageously tried to continue playing, and he was, in fact, the starter on Houstonís NL West Division Championship club of 1986, but he was never the same player after the injury that he was before.

His backup, Metzger, fielded the position better and longer (1971-78) than anyone else in Astros history, smooth as flowing water when going back in the hole or turning a double play, with a fine, accurate arm. Trouble was, despite Metzgerís and the coaching staffís best efforts, he never turned into much of a hitter. The Astro teams of 1972 through 1974 could carry him offensively; those of the dark years of 1975 through 1978, could not.