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Willy Taveras (born December 25, 1981 in Teneras, Dominican Republic) is a center fielder for the Colorado Rockies. He bats and throws right-handed. During his time with the Houston Astros, many fans referred to him affectionately as "Willy T."
In 2005, he led the majors in infield hits (71), bunt hits (31), and singles (152), and was tops among rookies in runs (82), hits (172), and stolen bases (34; 6th in the NL). He hit .291. Taveras was the Astros' starting center fielder during his rookie season (2005), replacing Carlos Beltran, who signed with the New York Mets in the off-season. After the season, Taveras was voted National League Rookie of the Year by the players (Ryan Howard of the Philadelphia Phillies won the actual Rookie of the Year Award).
In 2006, Taveras' batting average regressed to .278, though he again led the majors in bunt hits (21) and had 33 stolen bases (10th in the NL), but just 30 RBI.
Taveras has good skills for slap-hitting; however, he strikes out frequently (103 times in 2005) and rarely walks. His career high in walks is only 34, resulting in a low on base percentage -- a statistic valued highly in the book Moneyball. In addition, Taveras has little power. He had just 25 extra base hits in 2006, or 17% of his hits. He has above average speed and stole 33 bases in 2006.
As such, he has been relegated to fourth- or fifth-outfielder status. He is working hard to return to regular duty.
In Game 4 of the 2005 NLCS against the St. Louis Cardinals, he made a catch while running up Tal's Hill in Minute Maid Park's deep center field to end the 8th inning and preserve a 2-1 lead. He scored the winning run as a pinch-runner the inning before on a short sacrifice fly to center field.
On Mother's Day, May 14, 2006, Taveras was one of more than 50 hitters who brandished a pink bat to benefit the Breast Cancer Foundation. Taveras had a 30-game hitting streak that ended August 29, 2006 during a game in which he was hit twice by Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Tomo Ohka. His streak is a franchise record, breaking the record of 25 previously held by Jeff Kent. He is the 42nd player in MLB history with a hit streak of 30-or-more games.
- 2005 Player's Choice Rookie of the Year.
- 2005 Sporting News Rookie of the Year
- Named to 2006 Dominican Republic World Baseball Classic team.
- 30 game hitting streak (Astros franchise record).
|Houston Astros Longest Hitting Streak|