The Houston Astros made the World Series two times in History. Do the teams have anything in common?
In 2005 the Astros were managed by Phil Garner. After starting the season going 15-30, the team turned around and closed going 74-43, finishing second in the National League Central. They made the playoffs as the wild card team.
The team features the famous “Killer B’s” Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, and Lance Berkman. Bagwell was in his final major league season only appeared in 39 regular season games with a slash line of .250/ .358/ .380 and 19 RBIs. Biggio hit .264/ .325/ .468 with 26 home runs and 69 RBIs. The youngest “B,” Berkman hit .293/.411/.524 with 24 home runs and 82 RBIs.
Roger Clemens headed the pitching staff, ending the season with a 1.87 ERA. Ace Roy Oswalt, Andy Pettitte, and now infamous Brad Lidge complimented the staff, allowing only 609 runs during the regular season.
The 2005 squad played against the Atlanta Braves (91-71) in the National League Divisional Series. Beating them in four games. Highlighted by game four which ended on a walk-off home run by Chis Burke. Albert Pujols and the St. Louis Cardinals (100-62) faced the Astros in the National Championship Series.
The Stros held on and beat the Cardinals in six games. The Astros encountered the Chicago White Sox (99-63) in the World Series. Series MVP Jermaine Dye had seven hits against the Astros in the four-game sweep. Notably, game three lasted five hours and forty-one minutes, the longest game in World Series history.
This past year, the Astros managed by A.J. Hinch, complete with a younger and rebuilt team, went 101-61 leading the league in many stats including, runs scored (896) and team average (.280) finished first in the American League West and the second best team in baseball.
Every Houston playoff series this year had fans sitting at the edge of their seats.
Jose Altuve shut up any haters in the American League Divisional Series against the Boston Red Sox (93-69) In game one Altuve hit three home runs, while Justin Verlander silenced the Boston offense, beating them in four games.
Nothing scared the Astros in 2017 as much as Yankee Stadium did in the American League Championship Series. After pitching dominated the first two games, the Astros mostly disappeared during the three games in New York. Leaving the Bronx, the Astros were facing elimination in game six. Verlander revived the Astros in game six going seven innings allowing no runs, leading the team past the Yankees. In game seven it was a team effort, including Lance McCullers going four innings in relief.
When I say George Springer, we can shout World Series MVP!
In game two, the Astros and the Dodgers combined for five home runs in extra innings, a World Series record. The Astros clobbered Yu Darvish‘s array of pitches not allowing him to pitch more than four innings in his two World Series starts. Alex Bregman highlighted a momentum-changing game five with a walk-off single.
Both Gurriel and Altuve hit three-run shots, in a game lasting five hours and seventeen minutes. It was the second longest game in World Series history after the 2005 Game 3 showdown. After losing game six, the Astros dominated game seven with Springer homering, and Morton silencing Dodger hitters, bringing Houston their first World Series Trophy.
No doubt about it, the ’05 and the ’17 World Series teams have little in common.
Aside from having multiple aces in the pitching rotations, both teams had closers who were shockingly terrible. The 2017 Astros offense was a lot better, scoring more than two hundred runs than the 2005 regular season team. In 2005 the Astros were a lot older. Jeff Bagwell, one of the leaders on the Astros was in his last major league season. Just imagine how much of a difference it would have been if Springer or Bregman needed to ice their knees every time they rounded the bases.
The transactions before and during the seasons for both teams have their differences as well. The 2017 Astros included major additions including Brian McCann, Charlie Morton, and Verlander. In 2005 the Astros only had some minor additions which had little to zero effect on the team. After the 2016 season, the Astros lost Jason Castro, Doug Fister, Colby Rasmus, and Louis Valbuena, but replaced every loss with better talent. After 2004 the Astros lost Carlos Beltran and replaced him mainly from players within the organization.
Going into the 2006 season, the Astros had lost Hall of Famer Bagwell to retirement, ending the era of the “Killer B’s.” During the season the Astros traded for Aubrey Huff but lost now star Ben Zobrist. Even though that group probably thought that they would continue winning, they didn’t make the playoffs again till 2015. Berkman feels like “this team could win three or four championships.
"”This team could with three or four championships.” – Lance Berkman."
This squad is stronger for a repeat.
The 2018 Astros remain almost the same team, losing only minor role players other than Mike Fiers and Beltran. They are going into the season a little bit older, matured, much more experienced, and hungry. Luhnow added bullpen depth with Hector Rondon and Joe Smith. As well as trading for ace Gerrit Cole, only losing talent that had blocked paths in Houston.
While a World Series hangover may be a technical block in the road, it can be stuck in players minds, often slowing them down a bit. The Astros have shown that they are just as hungry and determined than ever.
Players like Bregman have put the World Series trophy behind them, going into the season more fit than they have ever been before, and are one hundred percent focused on 2018. Luhnow added players like Cole and Smith who have gotten so close, but couldn’t finish their runs, and Houston is that place to do it. AGAIN.
***Stats from Baseball-Reference***