Introducing… Terry Puhl

The most reliable defensive right fielder in the history of baseball, Puhl ended his career with a .994 fielding average at the position.  No other right fielder before or since can match Terry’s excellence in the corner pasture.  In a number of seasons, Puhl had a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage but the Canadian was more than a glove man.  Terry was also a swift base runner who stole a lot of bases and as a batter, he owned a keen batting eye which gave him solid on-base percentages and allowed him to walk as much as he struck out.

The Astros signed Puhl out of Canada and he made his Major League debut at the age of 20 in 1977.  As a rookie, Terry hit .301 and posted a terrific OBP of .385.  He only appeared in 60 games that year but he was terrific in that short showcase, so the Astros let him play everyday in 1978.  Puhl rewarded the Astros by making the National League All-Star Team his first year as a regular.  He slapped out 169 hits, stole 32 bases and scored 87 runs.  His 1979 season was almost identical although his homerun total rose from three to eight.  Terry played 110 games in center field in 1979 and another 40 in right and between the two locales didn’t make an error all season. 

Houston made the postseason for the first time in 1980.  Led by an aging pitching staff that lost ace J.R. Richard to a stroke during the season, the Astros captured the NL West flag as Puhl had his best year for power that season–he clubbed 13 round-trippers.  In the NLCS, Terry was more difficult to cool off than a raging volcano.  Against the eventual World Series champion Phillies, Puhl hit .526 and posted an otherworldly OPS of 1.222.  Over the course of Puhl’s career, he was a .372 postseason hitter.  The Astros again made the postseason in the strike shortened ’81 season but fell to the Dodgers.  Puhl was perfect again afield during the regular season, posting an unblemished 1.000 fielding percentage.

Terry hit .292 in 1983 and then had another .300 season in ’84.  That year Puhl walked 59 times compared to just 45 whiffs as the Canadian outfielder honed his batting eye to perfection.  By 1985 Terry settled in as a fourth outfielder as foolish skippers like Bob Lillis and Hal Lanier allowed inferior players like Billy Hatcher and Jerry Mumphrey to play ahead of Puhl.  The Astros looked like a team of destiny in 1986 but the Mets beat them in a roaring NLCS that saw Puhl hit .667 against New York pitching.  In 1988 Terry began to platoon in the outfield and he fashioned his third .300 season that year.  As a veteran in ’89, Terry rotated around the outfield and never committed a single error in 103 games played.  He would play his last Major League game with the Royals in 1991.

THE NUMBERS

G 1,531/R 676/H 1,361/2B 226/3B 56/HR 62/RBI 435/SB 217/BB 505/SO 507/BA .280/OBP .349/SA .388

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