|1974 Topps Stamp|
|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.
|Year||Games||Games Started||Innings||Putouts||Assists||Errors||F Pct||Double Plays||Range Factor|