Astros legend Jimmy Wynn passed away today at age 78, the team announced. The Astros’ official statement:
Today, we lost a very big part of the Astros family with the passing of Jimmy Wynn. His contributions to our organization both on and off the field are too numerous to mention. As an All-Star player in the 1960’s and 70’s, Jimmy’s success on the field helped build our franchise from it’s beginnings. After his retirement, his tireless work in the community impacted thousands of young people in Houston. Although he is no longer with us, his legacy will live on at Minute Maid Park, at the Astros Youth Academy and beyond. We send our heartfelt condolences to his wife Marie, daughter, Kimberly, son, James, Jr., to the other members of his family and to his many fans and admirers.
Wynn hit .250/.366/.436 with 291 homers, 225 steals, and 1105 runs scored over 8011 career Major League plate appearances, with the first 11 of his 15 seasons coming in Houston. Wynn first played for the Astros (then known as the Colt .45s) in 1963, the franchise’s second season in existence, and he was one of the headline stars of the early days of Houston baseball. Between his 5’9″ height and big throwing arm, Wynn also boasted one of the era’s best nicknames, becoming known as the “Toy Cannon.”
While Wynn’s numbers are already impressive on the surface, he is often cited as a player who true ceiling as a hitter may have been obscured by a pair of extra factors. Firstly, his prime years came in the 1960’s, the most pitching-friendly decade in modern baseball history. Secondly, Wynn played the majority of his home games in the huge Astrodome, which suppressed his power numbers.
Despite these obstacles, Wynn twice topped the 33-homer plateau while playing for Houston, including a 37-homer campaign in 1967 that stood as the Astros’ team record until Jeff Bagwell broke the mark in 1994. Even among all the great offensive players who have suited up for the Astros in more hitter-friendly eras, Wynn still sits prominently within the top ten in most of the franchise’s all-time offensive categories. Wynn’s 148 walks during the 1969 season set a new National League record for the time, and that total is still tied for the 14th-highest single-season walk total in baseball history
Wynn posted a 129 OPS+ and 130 wRC+ over his career, which also includes stints with the Dodgers, Braves, Yankees, and Brewers. He was a three-time All-Star, with two of those appearances coming during his two seasons in Los Angeles. Wynn’s first year with the Dodgers, 1974, saw him bat .271/.387/.497 with 32 homers, helping carry the team to a National League pennant before falling to the A’s in the World Series.
We at MLBTR send our best wishes to Wynn’s family and legions of fans around the game.