Josh Reddick lives life out loud. He has strong opinions when you ask him a question, plays the game of baseball with passion and emotion and is not bashful about displaying his love for all things involving University of Georgia football, professional wrestling and Spider-Man.
Reddick is as unpretentious and real as it gets in a world where players are often hesitant to share their feelings to reveal too much of themselves to the public. Not Reddick. The outfielder lays it all on the line on and off the field and has become a hit with Astros fans because of it.
"As far as Houston, it's better than I ever could have imagined," said Reddick, who signed a four-year, $52 million contract with the Astros following last season.
The marriage between the Astros and Reddick has been perfect. He's having one of the best years of his career, finishing the regular season with a .314 average, 13 homers and 82 RBIs. He's batted .344 at Minute Maid Park, where choruses of "Woo!" -- the battle cry of former professional wrestler Ric Flair -- fill the air each time he comes to bat.
"It would be cool to look five years down the road if I come back to Houston and get a 'Woo!' out of everybody," he said. "You never know, it may follow you around your whole career."
Reddick, 30, was drafted by Boston in the 17th round of the 2006 MLB Draft after one season at Middle Georgia College. He made his big league debut in 2009 for the Red Sox and had a strong rookie season in 2011 before being sent to Oakland in a deal that saw Andrew Bailey go to Boston.
His career blossomed in Oakland, where he hit .321 with 84 homers and 300 RBIs in five seasons and had a strong following among A's fans. Traded to the Dodgers late in the '16 season, Reddick signed with a star-studded Houston team last November and has been one of the biggest personalities in the clubhouse.
"He's not getting near enough love for what he brings to the ballpark every day, to this clubhouse, to the energy level on our team," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "The way he plays, he plays the game right. He runs balls out, he crashes into walls, he dives after plays, he posts every single day -- everything that you would ask for as a manager out of an everyday player."
It was Reddick who first brought a wrestling belt to the clubhouse early in the season that was to be awarded to the game's best player. Wrestling is one of his passions. He attends about two major wrestling events a year and proudly talks trash to the wrestlers before going backstage to say hello.
"That's a cool feeling," he said. "These guys are way more popular and cooler than I'll ever be in my life and they look at you as one of the people they're a fan of."
Reddick's love for baseball began on the outskirts of Savannah, Ga., where he grew up riding dirt bikes and playing baseball on 20 acres. When Reddick was a baby, his father, Kenny, lost his left hand when 7,620 volts of electricity shot through his body in a work accident. His mother, Cheryl, became his catch partner.
"I think I followed in his footsteps a little bit, but that doesn't take away from anything that my mom did as well to help me love the game," he said. "She was the pitching machine for a while."
Cut from the junior high team two years in a row, Reddick blossomed as a high school player and began to realize his future in the game had a high ceiling.
"It really peaked my junior year when I got around to playing on the high school team and realized how much more advanced I was at the game than most of the guys there," Reddick said, dripping with typical honesty.
Reddick's goal was to simply get to the big leagues. He didn't dream of being an All-Star or making the Hall of Fame or even having the kind of money he has now. The success and fame haven't appeared to change him much.
"Everybody wants a World Series ring and if I win one, that's perfect," he said. "That's the peak. I didn't see it going this way. I didn't see the power numbers coming like they did. It's something you really can't plan for. I'm more of a go-with-the-flow guy and like to win every day."
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.