It’s easy to imagine the Houston Astros’ kooky and lovable right fielder, Josh Reddick, as the embodiment of Captain Marko Ramius, the rogue Soviet navy submarine captain portrayed by Sean Connery in the 1990 film, “The Hunt for Red October.”
Rakish and risk-taking, Reddick, 31, has been a reliable cog in the Astros’ run to the World Series in 2017, as well as the regular season of 2018, all while wearing a complete Spider-Man costume under his uni.
But, after a strong ALDS against the Boston Red Sox last season, he suddenly ducked beneath the surface and was never heard from again in the ALCS or the World Series, much to his understandable disgust and consternation.
Oh, he was written on the lineup card in most every game, but most fans’ memory of Reddick from last October are of a helmet-slamming guy crossing first base after a weak grounder or walking forlornly back to the dugout, bat dragging behind after a strikeout.
Reddick went 1-for-25 in the 2017 ALCS against the New York Yankees. In the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, he was 4-for-24. This futility all came after he posted a confident .375 average and .819 OPS in his 18 plate appearances against Boston to begin the postseason.
“You’re afraid of our fleet. Well, you should be. More tea anyone?”-Capt. Ramius
“Last postseason, I think I got caught up in trying to be in the spotlight with these guys and try to hit the long ball,” Reddick revealed to the Houston Chronicle recently. “In reality, I’m in the eight-hole, I’m not here to drive in runs — ironic today [Houston’s first ALDS game against Cleveland] — but I’m not there to drive the long ball, I’m there to get on for those guys at the top of the lineup.”
In the Astros’ first game with the Indians, Reddick hit two singles and drove in two runs in the team’s 7-2 win. Saturday’s Game 2 saw Reddick go 1-for-2 before he added a 1-for-4 in Monday’s finale for the sweep that earned Houston the right to play in their second consecutive ALCS, beginning October 13. Reddick is 8-for-20 in his last five ALDS games for a lusty .400 average.
“Last year, it was a big thing where I came in really well in the division series then kind of fell off a cliff for the rest of the postseason,” Reddick continued. “I let these guys do their thing [this year’s playoffs]; I’ve been trying to just focus on staying where I’m at, finishing the season strong and carrying on with that approach and not try to do too much.”
Reddick even suffered an uncharacteristically anemic 2018, as his .718 OPS was the lowest he’d logged since 2013 with the Oakland A’s. A year after producing a .314 batting average (and .847 OPS) during his first season in Houston, he fell to an unremarkable .242.
“… and the sea will grant each man new hope, as sleep brings dreams of home.”-Capt. Ramius, quoting Christopher Columbus
Reddick is an important piece to the Astros’ puzzle on their march to repeat. He’s a solid defender with a strong, accurate arm, and his left-handed power bat is a rare commodity in the otherwise bombastic, albeit righty Houston lineup.
The 6’2″, 195-pounder is filling the role right fielder Colby Rasmus handled for Houston in 2015 and 2016. The identically built Rasmus slugged 40 home runs in his two years at Minute Maid, but a combined .222 led Houston to nab Reddick, after both outfielders filed for free agency on the same day: November 3, 2016.
While it took three months for Rasmus to sign on with the Tampa Bay Rays, Reddick found Houston in three weeks, with the team locking him up November 23, 2016, through the 2020 season at $52 million for the four years.
“A great day comrades, we sail into history!”-Capt. Ramius
For the ALCS and, should the fates allow, the World Series, Alex Bregman will do Bregman things, Jose will be Altuve, George Springer will hit dingers, Carlos Correa will make people forget his back injury, and Marwin Gonzalez will gain more believers.
But, if the Astros are allowed eight more victories to repeat in what Bregman has called Houston’s “back-to-back championship tour,” I would wager Captain Reddick alone will be the catalyst in at least one of those wins.
Even if not, he’s now content to contribute whatever he can for the greater good, playing within himself without the self-induced pressure of being the sole gunner.
The Red Sox? The Yankees? The Dodgers? Been there, done that, earned the booze-soaked t-shirt.
“Once more, we play our dangerous game, a game of chess against our old adversary. But today the game is different. We have the advantage.”-Capt. Ramius
Longtime Houston Astros fans remember the countless years when annual triple-digit losses kept Astros caps and t-shirts hidden deep in our closets.
Now, Astro-bling of all types can be seen by just walking around Texas!
As the Houston Astros Correspondent for TRS, it’s been a blast meeting new fans and new friends, all of whom know where to turn for Astro news, prospect profiles, historical perspective, a few surprises, and an exciting trip in search of Trophy 2.0…in prose!
Latest posts by Brad Kyle (see all)