Roger Metzger: Prototypical Good Glove, No-Hit Guy

1974 Topps Stamp
# 34

The first thing you need to understand about Roger Metzger is this: nobody in Astros history had a longer career with the team while hitting so anemically. Metzger's lifetime average with the 'Stros of .229 is the worst of all batters with at least 570 games played. And Metzger played over 1000. Metzger has more than twice as many at bats, and almost twice as many games played as his next-closest competitor in long-term batting futility, the immortal John Bateman.

Metzger's heyday with the club (1971 - 1978) are not exactly years known for front-office wizardry, but playing Metzger every day was NOT one of the many mistakes made by the Spec Richardson regime. And .291 career slugging percentage or no, the reason that's so is because of defense. Until the coming of Adam Everett, Metzger was unquestionably the finest defensive shortstop in team history, and arguably its finest infielder.

1975 Hostess # 115 1976 Hostess # 67

Metzger won the NL Gold Glove for shortstops in 1973, and led National League shortstops in fielding percentage twice and in double plays, putouts and assists once each. He has the highest fielding percentage of any Astros shortstop with over 300 games played at the position at .977, and is the only shortstop in team history to compile a .980 season fielding percentage while playing over 81 games there. And he did that twice, in 1973, and in 1976.

Further, Metzger has the highest range factor of any shortstop in team history at 4.69, which was more than 5% better than the league norm during the years he played. And no Houston shortstop was involved in as many double plays, or participated in them on a per-game basis as frequently.

1975 Topps # 541

Metzger, despite the low batting average, was also something of a triples machine. His 14 triples, which led the league in 1973, is still the single season team record. He also led the NL in triples in 1971, with 11. He, Joe Morgan, and Steve Finley are the only players in team history to have three seasons with double digit triples, while Jose Cruz and Morgan are the only Astros to have notched more three-baggers in a career than Roger. And no-one with more than a good season's worth of triples had a greater percentage of his hits fall good for three bases: Metzger was good for a triple every 13.6 hits. He only had 844 career hits, but 62 of them carried him one bag away from scoring.

Time and time again, in looking at Metzger's fielding stats at shortstop, the reason I had to quantify by games played or at-bats at all was Tim Bogar's numbers at the position. If Metzger is unquestionably the team's finest fielding shortstop, it seems that Bogar has just as firm a hold on the number two spot. Most fans don't think of Bogar much when thinking of slick-fielding 'Stros, and that's probably because Bogar was an even worse hitter than Metzger, but his numbers, given the smaller sample size, are in some cases even better than Metzger's.

Roger Metzger as an Astro Shortstop
Year Games Games Started Innings Putouts Assists Errors F Pct Double Plays Range Factor
1971 148 145 1302.1275 459 17 .977   91 4.959
1972 153 153 1373.3 238 504 22 .971 101 4.850
1973 149 146 1307.7231 429 12 .982   83 4.430
1974 143 1421261.7 238 451 17 .976   85 4.818
1975 126 1231094.3 186 441 15 .977   83 4.976
1976 150 1491304.3 253 462 10 .986   93 4.767
1977   96   86   758.0 130 260 11 .973   45 4.063
1978   42   38   333.7   59 103   6 .964   21 3.857
      81007 9828735.116103109110 .977 602 4.587