The Houston Astros are World Series champions, defeating the Philadelphia Phillies in six games with a 4-1 victory on Saturday night at Minute Maid Park.
Things looked bleak early for the Astros. After five shutout innings from Framber Valdez, the southpaw hung a fastball that Kyle Schwarber blasted for a go-ahead home run. To that point, it seemed like it could be enough on an early night when Houston’s hitters could do very little against Zack Wheeler.
Everything changed in the bottom of the 6th. After rookie Jeremy Pena reached on a single, putting two runners on, the Phillies pulled Wheeler and put reliever Jose Alvarado on the mound specifically to face Yordan Alvarez. Four pitches later, Minute Maid Park lit up in celebration.
After taking a 4-1 lead, the Astros turned things over to the elite bullpen that has come through in so many big moments since April.
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The relievers that allowed just five earned runs in the MLB postseason entering tonight came through one last time. Facing his former team, Hector Neris retired Nick Castellanos, Alec Bohm and Jean Segura in order. Bryan Abreu then followed it up in the 8th with three quick outs on 10 pitches.
All-Star closer Ryan Pressly then took the mound in the 9th inning, three outs shy of handing Dusty Baker that elusive first World Series title. With a runner on and two outs, Castellanos flew out to Kyle Tucker and the Astros celebrated once again.
Houston Astros cement status as a dynasty
From 2011-’13, the Houston Astros were the worst team in MLB. The organization tore down a majority of its roster, tanking to maximize its draft pick positioning and bonus pool money to overhaul the farm system.
- Houston Astros record (2011-’13): 162-324 (.333)
The decision paid off. From 2011-2018, the Astros identified routinely used the MLB Draft and international free agency to find young talent who has proved integral to the team’s success in recent years. Ranging from Carlos Correa to Kyle Tucker, homegrown talent helped shape one of the best MLB teams in recent memory.
Houston Astros’ homegrown talent
|Draft Class||Notable Picks|
|2011||George Springer (11th overall)|
|2012||Carlos Correa (1st overall), Lance McCullers Jr (41st overall)|
|2015||Alex Bregman (2nd overall*), Kyle Tucker (5th overall)|
|2018||Jeremy Peña (102nd overall pick)|
|International Free Agents||Framber Valdez (2015, $10K), Cristian Javiier (2015, $10K), José Urquidy (2015), Luis Garcia (2017)|
The Astros also used their farm system to acquire difference-makers who helped this team leap into becoming a perennial World Series contender. In 2017, Houston flipped prospects Franklin Pérez (2014 IFA signing), Daz Cameron (37th pick in 2015 MLB Draft) and Jake Rogers (97th pick in 2016 MLB Draft) to the Detroit Tigers for Justin Verlander.
Houston flipped reliever Josh Fields for Yordan Alvarez in 2016 and its 2015 international free-agent signings helped shape one of the best rotations in baseball to pair with the ALCS MVP (Jeremy Pena).
A majority of MLB fans will discredit the 2017 World Series title for the sign-stealing scandal, which resulted in manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow being fired. While multiple MLB teams stole signs electronically at the time, an investigation determined the Astros grossly exceeded violations done by other clubs.
Even if you remove one World Series championship from the resume, this remains one of the best teams in recent history. Houston’s success is right in line with the Los Angeles Dodgers, who are also viewed as a dynasty as the only two teams to win 700-plus games over the last eight seasons.
- Houston Astros record (2015-’22): 745-450 (.623)
- Los Angeles Dodgers record (2015-’22): 711-483 (.595)
Houston has reached the American League Championship Series for six consecutive years, an ALCS record and is just the second team in MLB history (Atlanta Braves) to reach the LCS in six-plus years in a row.
The Astros certainly don’t belong in the conversation for the greatest dynasty ever or the best team in MLB history, but they are the most successful franchise since the New York Yankees’ dynasty.
While Houston will forever be viewed nationally as the most hated team in MLB history, it has earned its place in baseball immortality after this World Series title.