Injuries and age dragged down the Astros, finishing with a 75-87 record in fourth place. It was an eleven-game drop from the previous year. They were clearly becoming a team in transition. Glenn Davis missed time with a rib injury while Mike Scott fell to 9-13. The regular who had the best average on the team, Bill Doran, was traded to Cincinnati where he celebrated a World's Championship.
It was a time for experimentation. Craig Biggio was moved to the outfield after management decided not to waste his speed behind the plate. Newcomer Franklin Stubbs was tried in left field but he moved to his natural first base position after Davis was hurt. Eric Yelding and Casey Candaele were tried all over the infield and outfield. Ken Oberkfell and Dave Rohde both saw time at three infield positions.
Yelding flourished with a .254 average and 64 steals. Stubbs was a pleasant surprise, banging 23 homers and driving in 71 runs, leading the club in both categories. Biggio and Ken Caminiti continued to grow into regular parts of the lineup.
Eric Anthony, a much-heralded slugger in the minors, hit just .192 in 84 games but he left an impression when he became the first and only Astro to reach the upper reserved seats in right field on May 17th. A star was painted on the seat where it landed. Four days later, he beat the Pirates on another long blast in the 11th inning. He would swat ten for the year.
Davis broke out of a long slump on May 26th with three homers and nine RBIs during a doubleheader sweep in Chicago. He would swat three more in San Francisco on June 1st but the Astros still lost.
On July 25th, Stubbs would become the 15th first baseman in the modern era to play an entire game without a putout. He also drove in six during a 10-1 rout of the Dodgers on September 26th. Five days earlier, rookie Mike Simms had a twin treat in Atlanta, capping off a triple play then smashing his first big league homer to win the game. Danny Darwin led the ballclub with just eleven wins in a dual role as starter and reliever but he tossed enough innings to get the league ERA crown with a 2.21 effort.
There were two late trades that would turn out to be the most important news of the year. At the trading deadline, the Astros sent reliever Larry Andersen to the Boston Red Sox for a minor league third baseman. The young player was stuck behind Wade Boggs at his position and, while he hated to leave the organization he cheered on as a boy, he welcomed the chance to finally play in the majors. The Astros were mighty happy they gave Jeff Bagwell that opportunity.
After the season, Houston traded slugger Glenn Davis to the Baltimore Orioles for a trio of young talents. The Astros were soundly criticized for "dumping" their star player but, in retrospect, the deal for pitchers Curt Schilling and Pete Harnisch along with outfielder Steve Finley might have become equated with the Brinks Robbery had the three stayed longer in Houston. Davis would never again regain his health and played sparingly in Baltimore. The three acquisitions would eventually be stars, though not in Houston. It's a good thing Bagwell found immediate success or someone might have dealt him away too.By Astro Daily
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- Bill Doran, Casey Candaele, Craig Biggio, Curt Schilling, Danny Darwin, Dave Rohde, Eric Anthony, Eric Yelding, Franklin Stubbs, Glenn Davis, Houston Astros, Jeff Bagwell, Ken Oberkfell, Larry Andersen, Mike Scott, Mike Simms, Pete Harnisch, Steve Finley