September 6, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Houston Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow before the game against the Oakland Athletics at O.co Coliseum. The Athletics defeated the Astros 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
In 2012 the Astros clock completely flipped. At long lost owner Drayton McLane was able to unload the team to business owner Jim Crane. With this sell, the Houston Astros were forced into the American League and the dwindling fanbase yet again was upset. It would mean one more year in the NL Central, and it was another rough one at that. The transition of Jeff Luhnow to the front office brought on a strategy to gut almost everything in the organization. The RBI leader in 2012? J.D. Martinez with 55–ouch!
The move to the American League proved to be tough in 2013, and not only because of the play on the field. CSN Houston debuted, an all Houston sports station. The flaw? Less than 40% of Houston households could watch the games, and the entire Astros five state region was sacrificed. With a move to a new league, a team losing 100 games, and no ability to watch the games on TV, 2013 was rock bottom.
With rock bottom there was only room to go up. Following a disappointing 51-win 2013 campaign, some excitement brewed only with the hardcore fans. Luhnow had finally gotten this team to a point where it was time to rise. With Dallas Keuchel and Collin McHugh leading the way as surprising aces, the team assembled a top-heavy roster. While some of the best teams in MLB lacked true superstar power, the Astros had theirs in Jose Altuve and George Springer.
Had the hard part been done? Maybe not entirely, with a subpar bullpen and a lineup that fell off the map after the four to five slots, the Astros only won 70 games. Regardless it was a step in the right direction. Luhnow, always good for a head scratcher or two, fired manager Bo Porter and failed to sign number one overall pick Brady Aiken. Porter never seemed like a guy that fit the current plan, and it was evident after the firing that Luhnow is the kingpin of this operation. 2014 also marked a second straight year the Astros were not seen on TV, despite a slight upswing in attendance. Oh did I forget to mention that 5’5 guy Jose Altuve? He was nothing short of brilliant in winning the batting title.