1998 Houston Astros
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1998 Houston Astros / Franchise: Houston Astros / BR Team Page
Clinched Division: September 14, 1998, vs. New York Mets
Managed by Larry Dierker
History, Comments, Contributions
In 1998, the Astros set the franchise record for wins (102) and was arguably the best team the franchise ever fielded. The team was solid in all facets of the game.
They had a potent offense, led by Craig Biggio. He was the catalyst of the offense as the leadoff man and had a career year. He hit 51 doubles and 20 home runs, stole 50 bases while driving in 88 runs and scoring 123. He also had the unique accomplishment of not grounding into a single double play the entire year.
As was the case with many Astrodome-era Astros teams, the pitching was among the best in the league. They were second in the league in wins and ERA, and 4th in strikeouts. The staff was led most of the year by Shane Reynolds, Mike Hampton and Jose Lima, the latter two having breakout seasons. The bullpen was solid and featured 100-mph closer Billy Wagner who struck out 97 batters in only 60 innings en route to 30 saves.
Expectations for the team were at an all-time high on July 31, 1998 when they acquired Randy Johnson from the Seattle Mariners for prospects Freddy Garcia and Carlos Guillen and a player to be named (eventually becoming John Halama. The trade appeared to be the final piece of the puzzle as a rejuvenated Johnson went 10-1 with a 1.28 ERA, striking out 116 in 84.3 innings.
Heading into the post season, many picked the Astros as the World Series favorite, playing the 98-win Western Division champion San Diego Padres. The Astros' staff pitched respectably; however, the bats went silent against Kevin Brown. The Padres' ace dominated the series starting two games while posting a 0.61 ERA and striking out 21 in 14.2 innings. His performance lead the Padres to a 3-1 series win.
Awards and Honors
- All-Stars: Moises Alou and Craig Biggio
- NL Silver Slugger Award: Moises Alou (OF) and Craig Biggio (2B)
- NL Manager of the Year Award: Larry Dierker
- Greg Rajan: "As Astros clinch another division title, here's a look back at their first 10", Houston Chronicle, Sept. 19, 2022