MLB Top 5: Houston Astros Outfielders

This is the fourth article in a series that looks at the five best players at each position for the Houston Astros. In this installment are the outfielders.

The best outfielders in Houston Astros history are a mix of power, speed and timely hitting. The franchise also boasts versatility, with many players able to play anywhere in the outfield and also at first base.

The Best Outfielders in Houston Astros History

Left Fielders

Honorable Mentions – Bob Watson was a reserve at the position in 1968-69 and was a starter for four seasons from 1971-74 before converting to first base. He earned his only All-Star selection in left field in 1973, when he hit .312 with 179 hits, 16 home runs, 94 runs batted in and a career-high 97 runs. Scored. Watson batted .301 with 305 runs, 684 hits, 54 homers and 325 RBIs in 649 games over six seasons in left.

Michael Brantley signed with the Astros in 2019 after spending his first 10 seasons with the Indians. In five years with Houston (2019-present), he earned two All-Star selections, including 2019, when he hit .311 with a career-high 22 home runs and 90 runs batted in. Brantley’s .994 fielding percentage is the best among active left fielders.

“Dr. Smooth” ranks third in franchise history with a .305 average, and he also has 457 hits, 42 homers and 191 RBIs in 391 games. In 47 playoff games with Houston, he has 18 runs, 60 hits, six doubles, four home runs and 24 RBIs. Brantley played in two World Series losses but missed the win in 2022 while he was recovering from surgery to repair a torn labrum.

5. Luis Gonzalez – Before he became a five -time All-Star and a champion in 2001 with the Diamondbacks, he was a solid run-producer with the Astros for seven seasons (1990-95 and ’97). Gonzalez drove in at least 50 runs five times with Houston and reached double figures in home runs four time. His best season was 1993, when he hit .300 with 162 hits, 15 homers, 72 RBIs and a career-high 20 stolen bases.

“Gonzo” batted .266 with 344 runs, 683 hits, 153 doubles, 62 home runs and 366 RBIs in 745 games with the Astros. He also won the fielding title in 1992 and led the league in putouts by a left fielder twice. Gonzalez went 4-for-12 in the 1997 Division Series, his only playoff experience with Houston.

4. Lance Berkman – The “Killer B” was a backup in his rookie season (1999), started in both 2001 and ’03 and played sporadically in left throughout his 12 seasons in Houston. Berkman was an All-Star in 2001, when he led the National League with 55 doubles, set career highs with a .331 average, 191 hits and 358 total bases and added 110 runs, 34 homers and 126 runs batted in.

Berkman batted .306 with 230 runs, 388 hits, 92 doubles, 63 home runs and 234 RBIs in 343 games during his three seasons at the position. He went 2-for-12 in the loss to the Braves in the 2001 Division Series.

3. Moises Alou – He played three seasons with the Astros (1998 and 2000-01), earning two All-Star selections. Alou’s best season was 1998 when he won a silver slugger and finished third in the MVP voting after hitting .312 with 104 runs, 182 hits, 38 home runs and 124 RBIs. In 2000, he batted .355, which is the second highest mark in team history, and the following year, he posted a .331-27-108 stat line while spending most of his time in right field.

Alou is the all-time franchise leader with a .331 average, and he had 265 runs, 513 hits, 95 homers and 346 RBIs in 421 games. He appeared in the Division Series twice with Houston, going 5-for-28 with an RBI. Alou missed all of the 1999 season after suffering a torn ACL which occurred when he fell off a treadmill during the offseason.

2. Carlos Lee – He spent six seasons with the Astros (2007-12), reaching 25 home runs and 100 RBIs in three of those campaigns. Lee earned his only All-Star and silver slugger honors with Houston in 2007, when he batted .303 with 93 runs and 32 home runs along with career highs of 190 hits, 43 doubles and 119 runs batted in.

“El Caballo” (“the horse”) batted .286 with 376 runs, 894 hits, 187 doubles, 133 home runs and 533 RBIs in 815 games. He finished off his career by winning the fielding title at first base in 2012, which he split between the Astros and Marlins.

1. Jose Cruz – He was one of the most loved and respected players in franchise history. Cruz spent 13 seasons with Houston (1975-87), earning two All-Star selections and two silver sluggers. He finished third in the MVP race in 1980 after batting .302 with 79 runs, 185 hits, 11 home runs, a career-high 91 runs batted in and 36 stolen bases.

“Cheo” led the league and set a career high with 189 hits in 1983, hit 13 triples (which tied for the second highest total in team history) the following year and earned his final All-Star selection in 1985. He stole at least 20 bases eight times during his storied career and drove in 80 or more runs five times.

Cruz is the all-time franchise leader in triples (80) and he ranks third in games (1,870), fourth in RBIs (942) and stolen bases (288), fifth in total bases (2,846), sixth in runs (871), hits (1,937) and doubles (335) and ninth in batting average (.292). In 16 career postseason games, he has three runs, 17 hits and six runs batted in. Cruz finished his career with the Yankees in 1988 and later became a coach, special assistant and community outreach executive with the Astros.

Center Fielders

Honorable Mentions – Billy Hatcher spent four seasons with the Astros (1986-89), totaling 507 hits, 27 home runs, 195 runs batted in and 145 stolen bases in 521 games. His best season was 1987, when he set career highs with a .296 average, 86 runs, 167 hits, 11 home runs and 63 RBIs and finished third in the National League with 53 steals. Hatcher had seven hits, four runs, a home run, two RBIs and three steals in the 1986 NLCS. He later went to the Reds and was part of the team’s 1990 championship season.

Carl Everett played two seasons with the Astros (1998-99), batting .310 with 158 runs, 289 hits, 40 home runs and 184 RBIs in 256 games. His best season was 1999, when he set career hits with a .325 average, 108 RBIs and 27 steals to go with 151 hits and 25 home runs. “C-Rex” had four hits, three runs scored an RBI and a stolen base in eight playoff games with Houston. He played for seven other teams in his career including the White Sox when they beat his former team in the 2005 World Series.

Jake Marisnick was a solid fielder who played all over the outfield during his six seasons in Houston (2014-19). The 2019 fielding champion had 356 hits, 53 home runs and 173 RBIs in 631 games with the club. Marisnick missed the 2017 World Series with an injured thumb, but he helped the Astros get back to the Fall Classic two years later. Overall, he hit .333 (7-for-21) with two stolen bases in 23 postseason games.

5. Michael Bourn – He was a speedster who led the National League in stolen bases twice during his four years with Houston (2009-12). Bourn stole 61 bases in 2009, which is tied for third in team history and matched it in 2012, when he split the season between the Astros and Braves.

The 2010 All-Star won two gold gloves with Houston and earned the Wilson Overall Defensive Player of the Year Award two years later with Atlanta. Bourn ranks eighth in franchise history with 193 steals, and he batted .271 with 302 runs, 552 hits, and 134 RBIs in 541 games.

4. Steve Finley – Like Gonzalez, he found success with Arizona after his time in Houston. Finley spent four years with the Astros (1991-94), batting .281 with 301 runs, 595 hits, 32 home runs, 186 runs batted in and 110 stolen bases in 557 games. He ranks ninth on the all-time franchise list with 41 triples, including 13 each in 1992 and ’93, which tied for second among Astros single season marks (and led the league in 1993).

Finley went to the 1998 World Series with the Padres and won a title with the Diamondbacks in 2001. He was a two-time All-Star who won five gold gloves during a 19-year career spent with eight teams. Finley retired after playing 43 games with the Rockies in 2007.

3. Richard Hidalgo – He spent eight of his nine seasons with the Astros (1997-2004), playing in center field in four of those years and starting at each outfield position. Although he never was selected to play in an All-Star Game, Hidalgo had his best season in 2000, when he set career highs with a .314 average, 118 runs, 175 hits, 44 home runs, 122 runs batted in, 13 stolen bases and 355 total bases. The homer and total base marks both rank third in franchise history.

Overall, Hidalgo batted .278 with 442 runs, 787 hits, 191 doubles, 134 home runs, 465 RBIs and 1,416 total bases in 813 games. He led the league in outfield assists twice and had two runs scored and two hits in six career postseason games with Houston.

2. Jim Wynn – Like several others on these lists, he started at all three outfield positions, but he played far more games in center than the corner spots. Wynn spent 11 total seasons with Houston (1963-73) and started in center field for six of them (1965-70). He earned his only All-Star selection with the Astros in 1967, when he totaled 102 runs, 148 hits, 107 runs batted in and a career-high 37 home runs.

Known for his throwing arm, the “Toy Cannon” led the league in outfield assists twice. Wynn ranks fourth in franchise history in home runs (223), seventh in runs (829) and total bases (2,252), eight in games (1,426, with 882 coming in center field) and RBIs (719) and ninth in hits (1,291) and doubles (228). With his skills in decline, he went to the Dodgers for two years and played in the 1974 World Series (a loss to the Athletics), then spent a season with the Braves and split his final one between the Yankees and Brewers before retiring in 1977.

1. Cesar Cedeño – He was discovered in the Dominican Republic as a 16-year-old in the late 1960s and was soon getting compared to Willie Mays and Roberto Clemente due to his skill set and energy. Cedeño earned Rooke of the Year consideration in 1970 and earned All-Star and gold glove recognition three straight years from 1972-74.

However, amid that stellar run, Cedeño faced his biggest challenge. The night of December 11, 1973, he and 19-year-old Altagracia de la Cruz checked into a Santo Domingo hotel. There were reports that the couple argued before witnesses heard a gunshot. Police thought Cedeño used his .38 caliber revolver to commit the crime, but a test revealed gunpowder residue on de la Cruz’s right hand indicating she pulled the trigger.

Cedeño faced three years in prison for the involuntary manslaughter charge, but instead got off with only a $100 fine. Despite the light sentence and no suspension from commissioner Bowie Kuhn, the incident stuck with Cedeño for the rest of his career. Fans chanted “killer” (causing him to charge into the stands in 1980 and get fined) and he received death threats in opposing cities.

In spite of the distractions, Cedeño continued to produce. He was selected to four All-Star Games and earned five straight gold gloves. He led the league in doubles twice and stole 50 or more bases in six consecutive seasons (1972-77). Cedeño batted .289 and he is the all-time franchise leader with 487 steals. He also ranks fifth in runs (890), hits (1,659) and doubles (343), is tied for fifth in triples (55), sixth in RBIs (778) and total bases (2,601), seventh in games (1,512) and ninth in home runs (163).

He had five hits and two steals in seven playoff games with the Astros. Cedeño was traded to the Reds in 1982 (for Ray Knight) and spent time with the Cardinals, Dodgers and in Mexico before retiring officially in 1989. The hot-tempered Cedeño had trouble off the field besides the 1973 situation. He has faced charges of drunk driving and assault and has had several domestic violence issues through the years. He has spent most of his post-playing days as a coach and instructor for the Astros.

Right Fielders

Honorable Mentions – Daniel “Rusty” Staub spent his first six seasons with the Astros (1963-68), splitting time between first base and right field He made the All-Star team in his final two seasons in Houston and led the league in doubles with 44 in 1967. “Le Grande Orange” batted .273 with 792 hits, 156 doubles, 57 home runs and 370 RBIs in 833 games.

Jim Wynn spent the final three (1971-73) of his 11 seasons in Houston playing right field in the Astrodome. The “Toy Cannon” won two fielding titles and amassed 245 runs, 336 hits, 51 home runs and 190 RBIs in 407 games at the position.

Jose Cruz made his mark in center field but spent his first four seasons with the Astros (1975-78) primarily in right. His best year was 1977, when he led the league with 10 sacrifice flies, set career highs with 17 home runs and 44 stolen bases and hit .299 with 87 runs, 173 hits and 87 runs batted in. Overall, Cruz batted .298 with 259 runs, 565 hits, 40 homers, 280 RBIs and 115 steals in 563 games at the position.

Kevin Bass was a solid run producer who played 10 seasons with Houston in two stints (1982-89 and 93-94). He made his lone All-Star team in 1986, when he set career hits with a .311 average, 83 runs, 184 hits and 20 home runs to go with 79 runs batted in and 22 steals. Bass batted .278 with 465 runs, 990 hits, 194 doubles, 87 home runs, 467 RBIs, 120 stolen bases and 1,505 total bases in 1,122 games. In his only playoff experience in the 1986 National League Championship Series, he had seven hits, two doubles and two steals in six games.

Josh Reddick spent four seasons in Houston (2017-20), helping the club make a pair of World Series appearances and win the title in 2017. He batted .275 with 219 runs, 439 hits, 48 home runs and 208 RBIs in 465 regular season games. In the playoffs, “Red Dawg” appeared in 53 games with the Astros, amassing 16 runs, 31 hits, two homers and eight runs batted in. He had four hits and scored three runs in the World Series victory over the Dodgers in 2017. His biggest negative was the “zero” regret he had for being part of Houston’s sign-stealing scandal.

5. Kyle Tucker – He took over for Reddick and has earned a pair of All-Star sections in hi six seasons with Houston so far (2018-present). The 2022 gold glove winner led the league with six triples in 2020 but has turned into a power hitter recently. He has hit 30 home runs in the previous two seasons and needs one more in the final week to reach the mark again.

“King Tuck” has driven in more than 100 runs twice and currently leads the American League with 110 in 2023. Overall, he has batted .282 with 304 runs, 530 hits, 120 doubles 102 homers, 366 RBIs and 82 stolen bases in 551 games. In the postseason, Tucker has 23 runs, 44 hits, eight home runs, 27 RBIs and seven steal in 51 games, helping the Astros reach the World Series three times in his tenure and winning the championship in 2022.

4. Hunter Pence – He played in the 2006 MLB Futures Game and spent five seasons in Houston (2007-11), leading the league in outfield assists twice. Pence finished third in the Rookie of the Year voting in 2007 after hitting .322 with 17 home runs and 69 runs batted in.

The two-time All-Star ranks tenth in franchise history with a .290 average, and he had 353 runs, 768 hits, 145 doubles, 103 home runs and 377 RBIs in 680 games. He did not appear in the postseason with the Astros but won two titles with the Giants.

3. Derek Bell – The last of the “Killer B’s” to make his debut on a list, he played five seasons with Houston (1995-99), driving in more than 100 runs twice. Bell hit a career-high .334 in 1995 and set career bests with 113 RBIs and 29 stolen bases the following year. He had his best overall season in 1998, when he hit .315 and set career highs with 111 runs, 198 hits, 41 doubles and 22 home runs to go with 108 runs batted in.

Bell batted .284 with 336 runs, 770 hits, 153 doubles, 74 home runs, 444 RBIs and 102 steals in 683 games. He was a reserve on the 1992 Blue Jays championship team and had three hits and a home run in three Division Series appearances with the Astros.

Bell played one season each with the Mets and Pirates, where he struggled and was sent to the minor leagues in 2001. After learning he was going to have to earn his starting spot with Pittsburgh during spring training the following year, he went into “Operation Shutdown,” where he left the team and lived on his yacht (the Pirates released him two days later). He also has had trouble with drugs, getting arrested in 2006 and again two years later. Bell was picked up a third time for cocaine possession in November 2022.

2. George Springer – He was an integral part of two Astros World Series teams, earning three All-Star selections and two silver sluggers in seven seasons (2014-20). Springer spent his first three years primarily in right field, then split the next three between right and center, playing 474 games in right and 300 in center overall.

Although he didn’t have the speed of a prototypical leadoff man, Springer had solid power, reaching 20 home runs four times and driving in 80 runs in three seasons. His best year was 2019, when he set career highs with a .292 average, 39 home runs and 96 runs batted in.

The 2013 Futures Game participant ranks sixth in franchise history with 174 home runs, and he batted .270 with 567 runs, 832 hits, 137 doubles and 458 RBIs in 795 games. Springer was just as clutch of a hitter in the postseason, totaling 43 runs, 70 hits, 15 doubles, 19 homers and 38 RBIs in 63 playoff games. He was the MVP of the 2017 World Series, totaling 11 hits, eight runs, five home runs and seven RBIs in the win over the Dodgers. Springer signed with the Blue Jays in 2021 and was named an All-Star the following season.

1. Terry Puhl – He spent two seasons each in left, center and at designated hitter, but played the majority of his games in right field. Puhl was known as a solid fielder with plenty of hustle, winning two fielding titles and retiring as the all-time leader among outfielders with a .9932 fielding percentage (since then, he has dropped to 19th). He made a running backhand catch to preserve Nolan Ryan‘s fifth no-hitter in 1981.

Puhl made his lone All-Star team in 1978 when he hit .289 with a career-high 32 steals. He had a career-best 172 hits the following year and set high marks with 13 home runs and 55 RBIs in 1980. Overall, Puhl batted .281 with 62 homers and 432 runs batted in during his 14 seasons in Houston (1977-90).

He ranks fourth in franchise history in triples (56), sixth in games (1,516), seventh in stolen bases (217, including six seasons with 20 or more), eighth in runs (676) and hits (1,357), ninth in total bases (1,881) and tenth in doubles (226). In the postseason, he had six runs, 16 hits, three RBIs and four steals in 13 games.

However, Puhl’s career was marked by several injuries, including a right hamstring injury that took away most of his 1985 season. Also hurting his chances at success was the Astros’ desire to turn him into a power hitter, which caused his average to drop while he focused on hitting home runs.

Puhl played 15 games with the Royals in 1991 before he was released and then retired. The Saskatchewan native earned several awards in Canada, coached his country’s Olympic Qualifying team in 2006, became the first baseball coach at the University of Houston-Victoria later that year and became a stockbroker.

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