The 2017 Houston Astros
Yes, they won the World Series. How could they not be number one on the list? But if you look at the teams on paper, the 2018 and 2019 Houston Astros are basically the same team as 2017 only with better pitching and in 2019 better hitting.
This team is the one that gave us all the memories, but if you were to open spring training today, which of these rotations/bullpens would you want most?
- 2017 – Justin Verlander, Dallas Keuchel, Lance McCullers Jr., Charlie Morton, Mike Fiers (Yes, Mike Fiers, who believe it or not, led the Astros rotation in innings pitched that year.) But for argument’s sake let’s add Colin McHugh and Brad Peacock into the equation. And Ken Giles as your closer.
- 2018 – Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, Dallas Keuchel, Charlie Morton, Lance McCullers Jr. with Roberto Osuna as your closer and Ryan Pressly as your set-up man.
- 2019– Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, Zack Greinke, and then some combo of Wade Miley, Framber Valdez, Jose Urquidy and Brad Peacock (this was the year Lance McCullers Jr. was out for a full season. Imagine if he was healthy that year.)
If we’re talking about the pitchers as they were in those years, it’s hard not to look at 2018 as well as 2019 and wonder how they didn’t win the World Series in those seasons too.
In 2018 Their rotation got better and their bullpen went from Ken Giles at the back end to Roberto Osuna and Ryan Pressly (Both mid-season acquisitions.)
And the 2018 offense was almost identical to the 2017 only with the mid-season addition of Martin Maldonado they upgraded defensively behind the plate.
In 2019 it was the same offense only adding Yordan Alvarez and Michael Brantley. The rotation lost Lance McCullers Jr. but added Zack Greinke who at the time was in contention for the National League Cy Young joining what would eventually be the number one and two vote getters for the American League Award in Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole (respectively.)
If you had to roll out one of these three teams, you’d be hard pressed to take the 2017 Astros over the 2018 and 2019 Astros, both of which finished with better regular season records (101 wins for the 2017 Astros compared to 103 for the 2018 Astros and 107 for the 2019 Astros.)
Now down to our final two.