Best Astros Players Of All Time: Top 5 Legendary Houston Athletes, According To Fans

Houston, we have a championship baseball team. The Houston Astros have been playing in MLB for generations and is one of the few MLB franchises to play in both the National League (NL) and the American League (AL). The Astros won the NL pennant and represented the NL in the World Series in 2005 and won the AL pennant in 2017, 2019, 2021, and 2022. Overall, the Houston Astros have two World Series titles and five World Series appearances. Undoubtedly, the Astros have had some amazing athletes come through the organization, and fans love to debate the best Astros players of all time. 

Fans also love getting out to see their favorite teams play in person. Fans enjoy live sporting events so much that they are even willing to plan their family vacations around watching their favorite team play in person. A recent survey of 2,000 self-identified sports fanatics looked at the lengths respondents are willing to go to watch their favorite team play in person. The survey found that 35 percent of respondents planned a vacation to see their favorite team play live. Results also found that the average respondent is willing to travel a whopping five hours and 48 minutes plus spend $762.20 for tickets to the game. 

Fans will be happy to learn that attending a live sporting event is also really good for mental health. In fact, a recent study found that attending live sporting events can boost your mental health as much as getting a job. A survey out of England found that respondents who recently attended a live sporting event – professional or otherwise – scored better in terms of ‘life satisfaction’ than those who had not recently been to a game. The survey of 7,000 adults is the first of its kind to examine the mental health benefits of attending sporting events. Overall, sports fans claim that watching live events makes them feel more ‘worthwhile’ and leaves them feeling satisfied. By the way, we hear Houston is great during the MLB season. 

So, which Houston ballplayers are considered the greatest in franchise history? StudyFinds did the research, consulting 10 sports and baseball websites in an effort to bring you the consensus best Astros players of all time. Our list comprises the top five most listed athletes from across these sites. Think we missed your favorite Astros player? Feel free to share your thoughts with us in the comments section below! 

The List: Best Astros Players, According to Experts

1. Jeff Bagwell (1991-2005)

The top spot on the list of the best Houston Astros players of all time belongs to legendary first baseman, Jeff Bagwell. Bagwell was easily one of the best first basemen of his generation, and he’s undoubtedly one of the most beloved Astros players in history. 

“When all is said and done, Jeff Bagwell is a pretty easy choice for the greatest Astros player of all time. Altuve may make a charge to catch him, but Bagwell was consistently great throughout his entire career, all of which was spent with Houston, that there isn’t really any other choice here… He was an absolute nightmare for pitchers, as he always found his way on base. Bagwell would constantly be one of the top names in the NL MVP race, and it’s a crime that he was only an All-Star four times. While the current Astros are certainly making their mark, when you think of the greatest Astros, Bagwell is always going to be the first name you associate with the team, earning him the top spot on this list,” writes Clutch Points

Jeff Bagwell was the face of Astros baseball for most of the ’90s and early 2000s. Bagwell could do everything on the baseball field and that’s a big reason why he’s a Hall of Famer. 

“Bagwell won a National League Rookie of the Year Award, a National League MVP Award and is a Hall of Famer, and yet, is somehow underrated. Bagwell’s best season came in 1994, when he hit 39 home runs and posted an OPS north of 1.200 in a strike-shortened season. If you adjust the numbers he put up in just 110 games to a full 162-game season, Bagwell would have homered 57 times and driven in 170 runs. Bagwell is one of the greatest first basemen in MLB history, and the best player that’s ever put on an Astros uniform. His No. 5 was retired in 2007, and he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame a decade late,” writes Audacy

Contrary to popular belief, Bagwell wasn’t drafted by the Houston Astros. The team traded for him from the Boston Red Sox minor leagues and the rest is history. 

“The best trade the Houston Astros ever made came in August 1990, when they dealt right-handed reliever Larry Anderson to Boston in exchange for minor-league first baseman Jeff Bagwell. At the time Bagwell was a high-upside offensive prospect, but I don’t think even the Astros anticipated he’d go on to become the best player in their club’s history. Bagwell spent all of his 15 big-league seasons with Houston, slashing .297/.408/.540, and retired as the franchise’s all-time leader in home runs (449) and RBI (1,529),” notes Yardbarker

2. Craig Biggio (1988-2007)

The second spot on the list of the best Astros players in history takes us from first base over to second base and Craig Biggio, who is one of the best second basemen in the history of MLB. He could hit, too. Biggio is a member of the 3,000 hits club and he’s regarded as one of the best contact hitters of his era. 

“A seven-time All-Star, Biggio racked up over 3,000 hits in a 20-season career spent exclusively with the Astros. Biggio was one of the more complete second basemen in MLB history, with 414 career stolen bases and four Gold Glove Awards. The Astros retired Biggio’s No. 7 in 2008 and he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2015,” writes Audacy

Anyone who grew up watching Biggio knows he was a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Biggio played his entire Major League career with the Houston Astros, and he’s easily one of the most recognizable players in Houston sports history. 

“Another career-long Houston Astro, Biggio was almost a guaranteed 15-20 home runs and 20 plus steals each of his 20 seasons. However, just because the New York native slugger was consistent doesn’t mean he didn’t have his share of impressive out-lier seasons. From 1997-1998, Biggio posted a total of 97 stolen bases and hit at least 15 home runs in all but three seasons from 1993 up til the end of his career. Biggio was a seven time All-Star, four time Golden Glove Award Winner, and five time Silver Slugger during his 20 years in the league, easily earning the honor of having his number retired by the Astros,” furthers Bleacher Report.

Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell teamed up to make a deadly one-two punch in the middle of the Astros lineup. Biggio was good for getting on base and allowing Bagwell to drive him home. Together, Biggio and Bagwell combined to make one of the scariest tandems in MLB. 

“While Bagwell got a lot of attention for his power, Biggio’s game was more finesse, and the two complemented each other nicely. Like his buddy, Biggio spent his entire career with the Astros, slashing .281/.363/.433 with 291 homers, 1,175 RBI, 668 doubles, and 414 stolen bases. He is the franchise’s all-time leader in games, hits, runs, doubles and HBP, and wore an Astros hat in seven All-Star games. Biggio also took home five Silver Slugger Awards and earned four Gold Gloves and is remembered as one of the premier second baseman to ever play the game. He had his Cooperstown ticket punched in 2015 and Houston retired his number 7 in a 2008 ceremony,” adds Yardbarker

3. Lance Berkman (1999-2010)

Powering his way into the third spot on the list of the best Astros players of all time is none other than Lance Berkman. Berkman was a great hitter, and his ability to drive in runs helped make Houston one of the best MLB teams of the early 2000s. 

“It didn’t matter whether he was playing first base, left field, center field or right field defensively, Berkman was going to drive in a ton of runs for your team. Between 2001 and 2008, only four players — Alex Rodriguez, Albert Pujols, Manny Ramirez and Carlos Delgado — posted more RBIs than Berkman, who drove in more than 100 runs on six occasions in his career. “The Big Puma” was hardly just a slugger, though, as he hit .296 and posted a .410 on-base percentage during the parts of 12 seasons that he spent in Houston,” explains Audacy

Once Berkman joined the Astros, opposing teams and pitchers were doomed. The Astros had one of the deadliest lineups in MLB history as Biggio, Bagwell, and Berkman combined to form the “Killer Bs.” 

“Soon after left-handed slugger Lance Berkman reached the major leagues, Astros fans began referring to him, Bagwell and Biggio as the ‘Triple B’s’, and the three led this offense together for a half-dozen years before Bagwell retired. Berkman was the Astros’ first-round pick in 1997 out of Rice University in Houston, and instantly became a fan favorite. In 12 seasons with the club, he slashed .296/.410/.549 with 326 homers, 1,090 RBI and 375 doubles. He represented the organization in six All-Star games and was an integral part of Houston’s National League pennant-winning team in ’05,” furthers Yardbarker

Although Berkman was eventually traded to the St. Louis Cardinals, he’s still considered Astros royalty. Berkman was great at driving in runs, knocking the ball out of the park, and putting his Astros team in a position to win

“While it must have stung for Houston Astros fans to watch Lance Berkman have his monster 2011 season with the St. Louis Cardinals, that sort of production was exactly what they were used to seeing from the slugger. Berkman can only be rivaled by his other ‘Killer Bs’ teammates Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio in power production for this franchise. The numbers for old No. 17 speak for themselves. Almost 1,200 RBI, over 350 home runs and a career .296 batting average. Almost all of those RBI and home runs were during his 11 seasons in Houston on the team’s way to four playoff births during his time with the club. His ability to drive in a run or knock a ball out of the park puts him in the upper echelon of all-time great Astros,” adds Bleacher Report

4. Roy Oswalt (2001-2010)

Pitching his way into the fourth spot on the list of the best Astros players of all time is legendary pitcher, Roy Oswalt. Oswalt was the ace of the Astros rotation for several seasons and he’s a big reason why Houston made it to the 2005 World Series. 

“Like Dierker, Oswalt was simply a solid pitcher for a long time for the Astros, winning 143 games in 10 years and never posting a losing record in that time. He also was the winning pitcher in the NLCS clincher in 2005, sending the Astros to their first World Series. The three-time All-Star finished in the top five in Cy Young voting five times,” writes Sports Map

Roy Oswalt walking off the mound and back to the Astros dugout
Roy Oswalt” by Scott Ableman is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Roy Oswalt was a very crafty pitcher on the mound for the Astros. Although Oswalt was often thought of as the third option in the Astros rotation behind Pettitte and Clemens, critics will tell you that Oswalt is the pitcher that made the rotation work. 

“Though he was at times outshined in his own rotation by Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte, Oswalt is the greatest starting pitcher in Astros history. Between 2001 and 2006, Oswalt finished fourth among all starting pitchers in fWAR, behind only Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling and Pedro Martinez. During that same period, he posted five finishes in the top five in National League Cy Young Award voting,” explains Audacy

For several years, Oswalt was putting up numbers comparable to some of MLB’s all-time best pitchers. That’s saying something. Still, Oswalt had to hone his craft before he was considered one of the top pitchers in MLB

“Hard-throwing righty Roy Oswalt is one of the biggest success stories in Houston Astros history, as after being selected by the club in the 23rd round of the 1996 draft out of a small community college he went on to become one of the best pitchers in team history. It took Oswalt five years to reach the big leagues after being drafted, but he quickly proved to be worth the wait. In 10 seasons with Houston, he won 143 games with a strong 3.24 ERA. There’s an expression that the best ability is availability, and in an era where pitchers consistently experience arm injuries, Oswalt made 30 or more starts eight times in a nine-year span,” adds Yardbarker

5. Jose Cruz (1975-1987)

Rounding out the list of the best Astros players of all time is outfielder Jose Cruz, who played for the Astros during the ’70s and ‘80s. Although the team wasn’t nearly as prolific as it is today, Cruz was a bright spot on the Astros roster. 

“Prior to the arrival of Bagwell and Biggio in the late ’80s and early ’90s, the most accomplished offensive player in Astros’ history was outfielder Jose Cruz, who starred for the team for 13 seasons. Houston acquired Cruz from the Cardinals in ’74, and while he had been a role player in St. Louis, he became much more than that in southeast Texas. In a shade under 1,900 games with the Astros, Cruz slashed .292/.359/.429 with 553 extra-base hits and 288 stolen bases. He qualified for two All-Star teams and won a pair of Silver Sluggers with Houston and is still the team’s all-time leader in triples. The Astros retired his number 25 in 1992,” explains Yardbarker

The Astros and Cardinals have done business with one another for years, and Cruz was the first example of the two clubs striking a deal for a great player. Again, Cruz wasn’t a power hitter, but his ability to get on base, advance bases, and score runs made him beloved by Houston Astros fans. 

“Cruz spent 13 of his 19 major league seasons with the Astros, making two All-Star teams, winning two Silver Slugger Awards and leading the National League in hits in 1983. Cruz — who is third in franchise history with 1,937 hits — had his No. 25 retired in 1992,” furthers Audacy

Cruz is still third in Astros franchise history with over 1,900 base hits. However, similar to Oswalt, Cruz took a little while to develop into the player Astros fans remember so fondly. 

“Jose Cruz was a bit of a late bloomer, as he didn’t really find his way until he landed with the Astros in his age 27 season back in 1975. Cruz gradually made himself an invaluable piece of the Astros lineup, and similar to other players behind him on this list, while he was never the flashiest player, he always managed to do his job, and do it well. Cruz never hit more than 17 home runs in a single season, but he was still able to make a big impact. Cruz hit over .300 in six seasons, and led the National League in hits in the 1983 season. Cruz was also a speedster on the bases, as he stole at least 30 bases in five seasons,” writes Clutch Points

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