For the first time in the franchise’s 56 year history, the Houston Astros are World Series champions. The Astros topped the Los Angeles Dodgers in what turned out to be an exhilarating seven-game series, full of timely hitting, wild finishes, and a record number of home runs. Houston’s George Springer took home the MVP award, hitting .329 with five home runs and seven RBIs while supplying stellar defense in center field.
The championship is the result of years of hard work rebuilding the franchise from the ground up. After a miserable four year stretch of accumulating both losses and high draft picks in bunches, the Astros emerged from the AL West basement in 2015 led by a front office centered around sabermetrics. While they would fall short in the ALDS and miss the postseason altogether the following year, the team’s young core, led by SP Dallas Keuchel, 2B José Altuve and SS Carlos Correa, gave fans something to be excited about.
The presumptive favorites in the AL West, the team started the 2017 season hot and never looked back. By the time the All-Star break rolled around, Houston was sitting at 60-29with a sizable lead over their division opponents. As expected, the team’s superstars were performing exceptionally well. The duo of Altuve and Correa established themselves as the premier double play combo in all of baseball. Keuchel added another All-Star appearance to his résumé while Springer received his first. However, it was the unlikely contributors who allowed the Astros to take the next step. Versatile utility man Marwin Gonzalez, first-time All-Star SP Lance McCullers Jr., and young 3B Alex Bregman, among others, all were in the midst of breakout seasons.
The Astros maintained their division lead in the second half as trade deadline approached. While no obvious holes plagued the roster throughout the season, the front office, with the postseason in mind, swung a last-second deal for workhorse SP Justin Verlander.
Just as the regular season was about to come a close, the city of Houston was struck by Hurricane Harvey, forcing baseball to take a back seat for a while as the devastated community attempted to recuperate from the natural disaster. Along with numerous other relief efforts from around the country, the Astros, who were forced to relocate for a few games, pledged $4 million dollars to help victims of the storm and donated 5000 tickets to first-responders. In addition, the team proudly donned a “Houston Strong” patch for the remainder of their games, taking pride in their role in helping the city recover after being struck by disaster.
After finishing the year with a 101-61 record, the postseason Astros showed the resilience that was lacking years before. After dispatching the Red Sox in the division series, the Astros staved off elimination twice against the Yankees in the ALCS, punching their first ticket to the World Series since 2005.
Heading into the World Series, the Astros were slight underdogs in their matchup with the Dodgers, who had handily defeated both of their previous opponents and held home field advantage. After being shut down by Clayton Kershaw in Game 1, Houston rebounded with a wild extra-inning win highlighted by a dramatic eleventh inning home run from Springer. The series returned to Minute Maid Park in Houston for Game 3. After securing a four-run lead in the second inning, the Astros, led by McCullers Jr., held off the Dodgers to claim the series lead. A huge ninth inning for the Dodgers in Game 4 evened the series at two games apiece. In Game 5, baseballs flew out of the park at a historic rate, leading to over five hours of thrilling, drama-filled baseball. The Astros would eventually walk off the game on a Bregman single in the tenth inning, taking a 3-3 series advantage and sending the series back to LA. The Astros, one win away from the championship, dropped Game 6 due to an uncharacteristic lack of offense, setting the stage for a winner-take- all Game 7.
erhaps, the Astros’ success is a sign of what is to come in Houston. The Astros had to go through a long, painful rebuild which eventually culminated in a world championship. Similarly, the city of Houston is currently going through a rebuilding phase. But, if baseball has taught us anything, it is that resilience, hard work, and unity pay off.
Houston again sent McCullers Jr. to the hill after his solid Game 3 start. The Dodgers countered with deadline-acquired ace Yu Darvish. The Astros quickly jumped on Darvish, scoring 5 runs in the first two innings, including a two-run shot by Springer. In the third inning, McCullers gave way to the bullpen. After three relievers combined for 2.2 innings of scoreless relief work, the ball was handed to red-hot Charlie Morton, who had pitched phenomenally in Game 2 as well as Game 7 of the ALCS. Morton would allow only one run over the final four innings, inducing a routine groundout fielded and thrown out by Altuve to clinch the World Series.
Altuve and Correa immediately ecstatically embraced as Morton was mobbed at the mound by his teammates sprinting from the dugout. Even notoriously stoic manager A.J. Hinch indulged in a bit of celebration. Astros fans across the country erupted into cheers.
Not only is the win a huge accomplishment for the Astros, but it also gives Houstonians something to celebrate just months after the hurricane ravaged the region. Perhaps, the Astros’ success is a sign of what is to come in Houston. The Astros had to go through a long, painful rebuild which eventually culminated in a world championship. Similarly, the city of Houston is currently going through a rebuilding phase. But, if baseball has taught us anything, it is that resilience, hard work, and unity pay off. The city will come back stronger and better than ever. Here’s to the Astros, and here’s to Houston. Congrats on your 2017 World Series championship!