Born: Sep 9, 1972
21-year-old lefty Mike Hampton was acquired from the Seattle Mariners after the 1993 season for outfielder Eric Anthony. It turned out to be one of the best trades in franchise history. Hampton spent 1994 as a reliever before becoming a full-time starter in 1995.
Every year with the team, Hampton's ERA was better than league average, and usually much better. He won 15 games in 1997, but his big year was in 1999 when he finished 22-4 with a 2.90 ERA. Hampton was the pitcher in two playoff clinchers: 1997 and 1999. He was traded to the Mets after that season due to salary concerns, and later signed $105 million contract with the Colorado Rockies.
The time in Colorado started the downside of his career. He struggled in the Rocky Mountain air and was dealt after the 2002 to the Florida Marlins who flipped him two days later to the Atlanta Braves. In a bizarre business deal, the Rockies and Marlins continued to pay part of Hampton's contract while he pitched in Atlanta. But the Braves didn't get as much from him as they bargained for. After two decent seasons where he pitched the Braves into the postseason, he came down with a series of injuries that negated most of the next four years.
His contract, at long last, completed, Hampton signed with the Astros again for 2009 for $2.5 million with incentives. He posted a 7-10 record with a 5.30 ERA but needed surgery on both knees and his left shoulder before the season completed.