1987 - Season Recap
(c) Bob Hulsey

As happened after the 1980 season, the Astros tried to return to glory after the 1986 season and settle the unfinished business of reaching the World Series. But they got off to a bad start, aged quickly and hit bottom after a few fruitless bids. Old favorites like Nolan Ryan, Jose Cruz, Terry Puhl and Alan Ashby moved on, sometimes against their wishes. But the moves made room for the new decade's heroes.

Changes were taking place off the field too. The Astrodome underwent a facelift which included the elimination of its giant scoreboard in 1988 to make room for additional seating. Dr. John McMullen actively sought to sell the team and rumors of a pending move out of Houston soon resurfaced. After 25 years, the Astros were less stable financially than in the beginning yet the on-field prospects were as stable as they had ever been.

To summarize the frustrating title defense, a look at Nolan Ryan's statistics might explain a lot. Ryan led the league in ERA (2.76) and strikeouts (270) yet lost twice as often as he won, finishing with an 8-16 record. He would have also led the league in losses if it weren't for teammate Bob Knepper, who lost 17.

Knepper's ERA ballooned more than two runs a game to 5.27. The low point came on June 3rd in Chicago when he surrendered nine runs in the first inning en route to a 22-7 loss.  The two pitchers alone represented a 13-game setback from the year before.

Mike Scott won 16 games while Jim Deshaies tallied eleven but they were alone among starters with winning records. The bullpen story was similar. Larry Andersen and Dave Smith had outstanding years but Charley Kerfeld hurt his elbow and was ineffective all season.

Smith went two months before giving up an earned run, averaged almost 1.5 strikeouts per inning and saved 24 games. His ERA was a stingy 1.65 for the season.

The hitters had a somewhat solid year although there were no outstanding performances. Six Astros reached double figures in home runs, led by Glenn Davis who hit 27. Five regulars hit .280 or above led by Billy Hatcher with a .296 average. Hatcher led the team in steals with 53. Bill Doran, Kevin Bass and Alan Ashby all turned in solid seasons at the plate. Hatcher's season was tainted, however, when he was suspended for 10 games on Sept. 1 for using a corked bat in a game against Chicago.

The magic that Hal Lanier seemed to have the year before crashed in around him. Houston struggled to stay above .500, finally landing in third place with a 76-86 record, a 20-game drop from the year before.

The plunge led to the introduction of two young players to the lineup. After trading third baseman Phil Garner to Los Angeles, the Astros brought up Ken Caminiti to replace him. The switch-hitting rookie belted a triple in his first game and showed exceptional range on defense. He shared time with Denny Walling at third.

Gerald Young, a pencil-thin outfielder with exceptional speed, was the other new face. He dazzled with a .321 average and 26 steals during a two-month call at the end of the season. Along with Caminiti, Lanier could now put five switch-hitters in the batting order.

For a team that had everything break their way one year, the odds caught up the next. As a veteran-laden team, the window of opportunity for a title was quickly running out.

3rd place, NL West

C Alan Ashby 1463.288
1B Glenn Davis 2793.251
2B Bill Doran 1679.283
3B Denny Walling 533.283
SS Craig Reynolds 428.254
LF Jose Cruz 1138.241
CF Billy Hatcher 1163.296
RF Kevin Bass 1985.284
OF Gerald Young 115.321
IF Ken Caminiti 323.246
OF Terry Puhl 215.230
IF Phil Garner 315.223
Key PitchersWLERA
SP Mike Scott 16133.23
SP Nolan Ryan 8162.76
SP Danny Darwin 9103.59
SP Bob Knepper 8175.27
SP Jim Deshaies 1164.62
CL Dave Smith 231.65
RP Larry Andersen 953.45
RP Dave Meads 535.55
RP Rocky Childress 122.98

Smith: Stingy relief.
(c) Houston Astros

Hatcher: leading hitter, corked bat.
(c) Houston Astros

From The AstrosDaily Media Library

1987 All-Star Game - 2nd inning - Mike Scott tosses two scoreless innings. (1:01, Costas, Scully - MLB Video)

Trades and Transactions

Nov 16 1986 - paid cash to Phi-N for Rocky Childress(P)

Feb 13 1987 - signed Juan Agosto(P) as free agent

Apr 2 1987 - traded Jeff Calhoun(P) to Phi-N for Ronn Reynolds(C)

Apr 15 1987 - signed Jose Cano(P) as free agent

May 16 1987 - signed Paul Householder from Mil-A as free agent

Jun 2 1987 - traded Eric Bullock to Min-A for Clay Christiansen

Jun 2 1987 - Summer Free Agent Draft
- 1. drafted Craig Biggio(C) (#22 pick overall)
- 2. drafted Randy Hennis(P)
- 12. drafted Andy Mota(OF)
- 16. drafted Al Osuna(P)
- 20. drafted Dean Hartgraves(P)
- 30. drafted Darryl Kile(P)

Jun 19 1987 - traded Phil Garner(IF) to LA-N for Jeff Edwards(P)

Jun 22 1987 - released Aurelio Lopez(P)

Jul 29 1987 - traded Mel Stottlemyre Jr.(P) to KC-A for Buddy Biancalana(IF)

Sep 30 1987 - traded Julio Solano(P) to Sea-A for Doug Givler(P)

Oct 13 1987 - released Dale Berra(IF)

Oct 13 1987 - released Ronn Reynolds(C).

Oct 15 1987 - granted free agency to Paul Householder(OF)

Oct 15 1987 - granted free agency to Ron Mathis(P).