Best Astro Houston 2003 - Brad Ausmus
Readers' Choice: Jeff Bagwell
What better place for a Dartmouth man than wearing the Tools of Ignorance behind home plate? Ausmus, 34, is a certified Ivy Leaguer with a degree in government that probably does him absolutely no good as he mentors the Astros' young but erratic pitching staff ("Wade, I think a bicameral legislature with a strong chief executive would produce a call for an inside slider right about now..."). But he's a certified student of the game, a leader who knows about patience and chemistry, and a defensive whiz -- he's won a Gold Glove two years in a row. Hitting? Don't ask. He's got a career average near an adequate .250, but he can struggle through some deep slumps. (Among Dartmouth grads who've taken ballet lessons in college, though, he's the all-time Major League leader.) The Astros don't need his bat, however, as much as they need his pitch-calling acumen and his ability to throw out runners. And in those categories he's among the best in the game today.