The 2000 season was quite possibly the weirdest year ever for the Astros.
I was looking up Berkman's career stats on baseball-reference.com. The kid can hit. Then I notice that Berkman finished 6th in Rookie of the Year voting in 2000. my first though was, "Only sixth?!" He had a great rookie campaign, hitting .297 with 21 homers and a .949 OPS in 353 ABs. Who could have done better? Any guesses? Well, the winner was Rafael Furcal, who hit .295 with 40 SBs. Sure, he only had a .776 OPS, but I can understand his winning the award. The others, though? Get ready for some shockers:
#2: Rick Ankiel — 11-7, 3.50 ERA
#3: Jay Payton — .291, 17 HRs, .778 OPS
#4: Pat Burrell — .260, 18 HRs, .822 OPS
And the biggest surprise of them all ... finishing 5th in the 2000 Rookie of the Year voting ... That's right ... Mitch Meluskey! He actually had a great season in 2000: .300/.401/.487, 14 HRs, 69 RBI in 337 ABs. Too bad he never hit a major league homer after that year, and only got 26 more ABs! What happened to Mitch? Can you imagine if he didn't get into that fight with Billy Spiers or Tim Bogar or whoever it was...? Oh well.
Anyway, I did a little most researching on baseball-reference.com, which is a tremendous site. Basically, the 2000 Astros were the exact opposite from the Astros of today: all power, no pitching. Check out the middle of the order:
Bagwell: .310/.424/.615, 47 HRs, 132 RBI
Alou: .355/.416/.623, 30, 114
Hidalgo: .314/.391/.626, 44, 122
Berkman: .297/.388/561, 21, 67
We even got decent contributions from Truby (.772 OPS), Lugo (.777), Spiers (.778), Ward (.833), Eusebio (.820), and Cedeño (.781). Biggio (.781) blew out his knee and only played in 101 games, and Caminiti (1.001) was limited to 69 games. In all, that lineup scored 938 runs. Yikes.
As good as the offense was, the pitching was ten times as BAD. I'm thinking it could have been historically bad. I mean, futility of epic proportions. Here are some stats for you: We used 23 pitchers and only one of them had an ERA under 4. That was Tony McKnight, who posted a 3.86 ERA in 35 innings. Nice work, Tony. Our most-used starting pitchers were Lima (6.65 ERA), Chris Holt (5.35), Scott Elarton (4.81), Wade Miller (5.14) and Shane Reynolds (5.22). Excuse me, ALL-STAR Shane Reynolds. That's right, he was an All-Star. Actually, he was our ONLY All-Star! WHAT!?!?! No Bagwell. No Alou. No Hidalgo. The Astro rep was Shane Reynolds, who finished the year with a 7-8 record. Weird. Also weird: Dotel started 16 games and got 16 saves with a 5.40 ERA. Wagner went down, but not before putting up a 6.18 ERA in 27 2/3 innings. All that awesome (or awe-inspiring) pitching allowed 864 earned runs and 944 runs total.
We finished 18 games under .500 at 72-90, but were outscored by only 6 runs. Our Pythagorean W-L record was dead even, 81-81. That's how weird a year it was.
Ok, so that's it for now. Still a bunch of rumors floating around about Lee, Soriano and … Aramis Ramirez (?). But both Jack and I still like Ensberg. Can't we just say he had a down year and move on? Hell, he still put up an .859 OPS. And you can't argue with that. At his salary, which I assume will be somewhere in the $5 million to $6 million range, it's hard to justify moving him.