Top 10 Best Houston Astros Players of All Time

Top 10 Best Houston Astros Players of All Time

The Houston Astros were founded in 1962, and over the years, they have had some incredibly talented players. They’ve appeared in four World Series throughout their history, winning it all for the first and only time in 2017. Below, the ten best Astros of all time are ranked 1-10. It should be noted that any statistics and awards mentioned encompass only the player’s time with Houston.

Who are the best Houston Astros baseball players of all time?

  1. Jeff Bagwell
  2. Craig Biggio
  3. Nolan Ryan
  4. Lance Berkman
  5. Roy Oswalt
  6. Larry Dierker
  7. Jimmy Wynn
  8. Jose Altuve
  9. Joe Niekro
  10.  Jose Cruz

1. Craig Biggio

  • Seven-Time All-Star
  • Five Silver Slugger Awards
  • Four Gold Glove Awards

While there certainly could be some debate, Craig Biggio is the number one player in Astros franchise history on this list. Biggio played multiple positions, mainly second base, throughout his career from 1988-2007, all with Houston. During those twenty seasons, Biggio made seven All-Star Games, won four Gold Glove Awards, and won four Silver Slugger Awards. Biggio also helped lead the Astros to a World Series appearance in 2005 before they ultimately lost to the Chicago White Sox in four games. As for his statistics, Biggio is the Astros all-time leader in seventeen offensive categories, including his 1,844 runs scored, 3,060 hits, 4,711 total bases, 101 sacrifice hits, and 668 doubles. During the aforementioned World Series in 2005, Biggio had four hits, one RBI, and one walk in four games. Lastly, Biggio is a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame as a member of the class of 2015.

2. Jeff Bagwell

  • 1994 National League Most Valuable Player (MVP)
  • Four-Time All-Star
  • Three Silver Slugger Awards

The number two player in franchise history, Jeff Bagwell, played his entire career for the Astros from 1991-2005. A first baseman and teammate of Biggio, Bagwell is the Astros all-time leader in WAR for position players (79.9), home runs (449), RBIs (1,529), and walks (1,401). Bagwell also helped to lead the Astros to their second world series appearance, alongside Biggio, in his final season in 2005. At the beginning of his career, Bagwell impressed right away by winning the 1991 National League Rookie of the Year award. As for his awards, Bagwell made four All-Star teams, won three silver slugger awards, and won the 1994 National League MVP award after he batted .368 with 39 home runs and 116 RBIs. In the 2005 World Series, Bagwell was at the end of his career, so he did not get much action. He still managed to record one hit in the four games he appeared in. After his career, Bagwell was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2017.

3. Roy Oswalt

  • Three-Time All-Star
  • Lowest ERA in National League in 2006
  • Led National League in Wins in 2004 (20)

The first pitcher on this list, Roy Oswalt, comes in at number three. Oswalt pitched for the Astros from 2001-2010 and was another member of the team that made the 2005 World Series. On the Astros’ all-time pitching lists, Oswalt ranks first in WAR for pitchers (45.7), second in wins (143), third in innings pitched (1,932 and 1/3), and second in strikeouts (1,593). Roy also made three All-Star appearances, led the National League in wins in 2004 with 20, and had the lowest ERA in the National League in 2006 at 2.98. During the World Series against the White Sox in 2005, Oswalt started one game and pitched six innings, striking out three and coughing up five runs. While his World Series performance was not as good, Oswalt was a big reason why Houston was in the World Series in the first place. He earned MVP of the National League Championship Series after he started two games and won both of them, pitching fourteen innings and striking out twelve batters combined while only giving up two total runs. 

4. Jose Altuve

  • Eight-Time All-Star
  • Five Silver Slugger Awards
  • 2017 American League MVP
  • 2017 World Series Champion

The only current player and only World Series champion on this list, Jose Altuve, comes in at number four on this list. Altuve, a second baseman, has been with the Astros since 2011 and led them to their only World Series title in 2017. The Astros also made the World Series in 2019 and 2021, but they were defeated both times. Altuve has made the All-Star Team eight times in his twelve seasons, won five Silver Slugger Awards, and earned three batting titles. Perhaps Altuve’s best season was 2017 when he won the American League MVP award and the previously mentioned World Series title. As for his all-time ranks, Altuve ranks second in career batting average (.306), fourth in hits (1,851), sixth in position player WAR (44.1), fourth in doubles (357), and fifth in home runs (181). In his three World Series appearances, Altuve has twenty-two hits, four home runs, and nine RBIs in twenty games.     

5. Nolan Ryan

  • Two-Time All-Star
  • Astros All-Time Leader in Strikeouts
  • Led National League in ERA Two Times

One of the greatest pitchers in MLB history, Nolan Ryan ranks number five on this Astros players list. Ryan pitched for several teams throughout his career, and he was an Astro from 1980-1988. During those nine seasons, Ryan made the All-Star team twice (1981 and 1985) and led the National League in ERA twice (1981 and 1987). During his final two seasons with Houston in 1987 and 1988, Ryan also led the league in strikeouts. On the Astros all-time pitching ranks, Ryan ranks first in strikeouts (1,866), sixth in wins (106), seventh in complete game shutouts (13), fourth in pitcher WAR (25.4), and fourth in innings pitched (1,854 and 2/3). The Astros' best postseason finish with Ryan was in 1986 when they lost to the New York Mets in the National League Championship Series in seven games. After his stellar career came to an end in 1993, Ryan was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1999.

6. Lance Berkman

  • Six-Time All-Star
  • Led National League in RBIs in 2002
  • Led National League in Doubles in 2001 and 2008

The fourth member of the 2005 World Series team on this list, Lance Berkman, comes in at number six. A first baseman and outfielder, Berkman played with the Astros from 1999-2010, and during that time, he made the All-Star team six times. While he never won the award, Lance finished in the top five in National League MVP voting four times in his twelve seasons. One of those seasons was 2002 when he led the league with 128 RBIs. As for his overall numbers, Berkman ranks first all-time for the Astros with his .410 on-base percentage, second with his .549 slugging percentage, fifth with his 48.1 position player WAR, third with his 1,008 runs scored, second with his 326 home runs, and third with his 375 doubles. Berkman was arguably the Astros’ best player in the 2005 World Series, recording five hits and also driving in six runs in the four-game series. 

7. Larry Dierker

  • Two-Time All-Star
  • Astros All-Time Leader in Innings Pitched
  • Astros All-Time Leader in Complete Games

One of the first great players in Astros history, pitcher Larry Dierker ranks number seven on this list. Dierker pitched for the Astros from 1964-1976, and he made the All-Star Game twice in those thirteen seasons (1969 and 1971). A real workhorse for the Astros in the early days of the franchise, Dierker is the Astros all-time leader with 2,294 and 1/3 innings pitched, 320 games started, 106 complete games, and 25 complete game shutouts. He also ranks second in pitcher WAR (34.3), third in wins (137), and fourth in strikeouts (1,487). Long after his playing days were over in 1977, Dierker returned to the Astros to be their manager in 1997. He had a successful six-year run in the position, winning 56% of his games and winning National League Manager of the Year in 1999 after the Astros won the National League Central with 97 wins.

8. Joe Niekro

  • 1979 All-Star
  • Astros All-Time Leader in Wins
  • Led National League in Wins in 1979

Known for his famous knuckleball pitch, Joe Niekro is the eighth-best Astro of all time. Niekro pitched for the Astros for eleven seasons from 1975-1985. Niekro’s best season during those years was 1979 when he made the All-Star Team and led the National League with twenty-one wins. He had his best career Cy Young award finish following that season, coming in second place behind winner Bruce Sutter of the Chicago Cubs. He also managed to lead the National League in games started two times as an Astro in 1983 and 1984, during which he had 38 starts both years. For the Astros, Niekro's 144 wins are the most in franchise history. He also ranks sixth in pitcher WAR (23.1), second in innings pitched (2,270), eighth in strikeouts (1,178), second in games started (301), second in complete games (82), and second in complete game shutouts (21).

9. Jose Cruz

  • Two-Time All-Star
  • Led National League in Hits in 1983
  • Astros All-Time Leader in Triples

An outfielder and teammate of Nolan Ryan’s, Jose Cruz is the number nine ranked player on this list. Cruz played for the Astros for thirteen seasons from 1975-1987. Cruz made two All-Star Games during that time, once in 1980 and again in 1985. Cruz finished third in MVP voting following the 1980 season, the best of his career. He also managed to lead the National League in hits with 189 in 1983. In 1983 and 984, Cruz managed to win a Silver Slugger award. As for his Astros’ all-time ranks, his 80 triples are the most in franchise history. He also has the third most hits (1,937), third-highest position player WAR (51.4), sixth most runs scored (871), fourth-most RBIs (942), and fifth most walks (730). Cruz was a teammate of Nolan Ryan on the aforementioned 1986 team that ultimately lost to the New York Mets in the National League Championship Series in seven games. 

10. Jimmy Wynn

  • One-Time All-Star
  • Led National League in Walks in 1969
  • Finished Top Fifteen in National League MVP Two Times

While Larry Dierker was one of the first great pitchers for the Astros, Jimmy Wynn was one of their first great hitters, and he rounds out the list. Wynn, who played in the outfield, was a teammate of Dierker and played with the Astros from 1963-1973. During those eleven seasons in Houston, Jimmy made the All-Star Team one time in the 1967 season, during which he hit .249 with 37 home runs and 107 RBIs. He had his best finish in the National League MVP race after that season, coming in eleventh place. For the 1969 season, Wynn led the National League with 148 walks. On the all-time Astros’ lists, Wynn’s 829 runs rank seventh, his 1,292 hits rank ninth, his 223 home runs rank fourth, his 2,252 total bases rank seventh, his 41.5 position player WAR ranks seventh, and his 228 doubles rank eighth. 

Honorable Mentions

While they did not quite crack the top ten, the twenty players listed below still deserve some recognition as honorable mentions. They are listed in alphabetical order by last name.

  • Brad Ausmus
  • Alex Bregman
  • Ken Caminiti
  • Cesar Cedeno
  • Carlos Correa
  • Glenn Davis
  • Bill Doran
  • Dallas Keuchel
  • Joe Morgan
  • Terry Puhl
  • J. R. Richard
  • Mike Scott
  • George Springer
  • Rusty Staub
  • Dickie Thorn
  • Justin Verlander
  • Billy Wagner
  • Billy Wagner
  • Bob Watson
  • Don Wilson

FAQ

Who is the best Houston Astros player of all time?

While some debate is certainly warranted, Craig Biggio appears to stand out amongst all of the other Astros players in history as the best of all time. As was mentioned above, he is the Astros’ all-time leader in seventeen offensive categories, including runs scored, total bases, sacrifice hits, and doubles. Biggio was also a key contributor when the Astros made their first World Series appearance in 2005, batting .264 with 26 home runs and 69 RBIs. 

Which Houston Astros player holds the record for most home runs?

As was noted above, Jeff Bagwell is the Astros all-time leader in home runs with 449. Bagwell hit those 449 home runs in fifteen seasons with the Astros, meaning he averaged just under 30 home runs per season. Bagwell is one of 57 players in MLB history to have hit over 400 career home runs. While this may sound like a lot of players, when you consider that thousands of players have played in the MLB over the years, it is a much more impressive accomplishment.