Any Houston Astros fan remembers the first taste of the World Series in 2005 where the Chicago White Sox swept the Astros in four games. That season the Astros rode the pitching of Roy Oswalt, Andy Pettitte, and Roger Clemens with a lackluster offense. Following the 2005 season, the breakdown of the Astros roster began as the Astros struggled to become relevant. What most people don’t remember, is that the White Sox almost didn’t make the playoffs after having a large lead in the division dwindle down to next to nothing. The same thing appears to be happening to the 2015 Astros, so I wanted to take a look at the two teams.
2005 White Sox
While it’s not exactly fair to compare the two teams, because the White Sox had a much larger lead in the division than the Astros had at any time of the 2015 season, but they both had an epic collapse down the stretch. Like the Astros, the 2005 White Sox stopped having fun and took things too seriously at the end of the year. They stopped having fun and let the pressure of making the playoffs cause them to be uptight and press make the action happen. However, the White Sox found a way stay in the hunt for the playoffs; then they got hot.
The largest lead for the 2005 White Sox was 15 games on August 1st with a 69-35 record. August was not kind for the White Sox that year, as they went 12-16. The lead in the division shrunk all the way to 1.5 game lead on September 22, and then they started getting hot again. Once the 2005 White Sox reached the playoffs, they essentially cruised through the playoffs by sweeping the Boston Red Sox in the AL Division Series, beat the Angels in the AL championship series 4-1, and then the Astros in the World Series. A team can get hot at the right time with the example of what that team accomplished, so all is not lost for the Astros in 2015.
The largest lead the 2015 Astros have had was a seven game lead on May 3rd, where they had an 18-7 record. In fact, the impressive Astros started off with a 27-14 on May 20th, but since then they have been barely a .500 team. The Rangers currently have a 4.5 game league with eight games left for the Astros to play. It will be an uphill climb for the Astros to try to overtake the Rangers who handed the Astros the 6-2 loss last night, but they should be aiming for the second wild card slot.
2005 White Sox versus 2015 Astros hitting stats. (Via Baseball-Reference)
The hitting stats are fairly similar, but the most glaring stats are the fact that the Astros hit more home runs, they scored about 70 fewer runs that the 2005 White Sox.
2005 White Sox versus 2015 Astros pitching stats. (Via Baseball-Reference)
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The Astros have better pitching stats, but fewer wins and saves. Unlike the Astros, the 2005 White Sox had the clutch hitters in Jermaine Dye, Paul Konerko, and Geoff Blum, which led to more runs that resulted in more wins. This current Astros team has the power up and down the lineup, but they can be streaky. Maybe the Astros are about to breakout.
Don’t give up, Baseball Prospectus still has the Astros at 73% chance of making the playoffs. I wonder if that will change after the Angels pulled up to a half game behind the Astros in the second slot of the wild card. The Astros need to bring back the fun and excitement that came with Club Astros, because when they are hot, they are unstoppable.
Either way, it’s been a fun season, and for once we can be excited about “next year.”