HOUSTON – What a ride. Again. The Major League Baseball playoffs always deliver. This year had an extra round and we got some amazing action in it, from the Phillies Game 1 comeback in St. Louis to the series walk-off in Cleveland to the Mariners‘ crazy comeback in Toronto. The Yordan Alvarez walk-off started us off for a great divisional round and though the LCS were short, they were action packed.
Then there was the World Series. We saw the first comeback from five runs to win in 20 years. We saw a record-breaking home run performance in front of a thirsty home fan base in Game 3. We saw the second ever no-hitter in Game 4. Justin Verlander finally got his win in an amazingly-played Game 5. Then there was the duel in Game 6 through five before the Kyle Schwarber homer and Yordan Alvarez back-breaking three-run job over the batter’s eye.
Congratulations to the Houston Astros.
They went through a bad stretch early in the season that saw them sitting 6-8, but otherwise they spent a lot of time toward the top this year in the Official Power Rankings. I think two was their most common spot. I can’t say for sure off the top of my head, but I believe they never got to number one due to the Yankees historic first half and then the Dodgers getting ridiculous before the Yankees collapsed. Still, the Astros were a powerhouse juggernaut nearly the entire season. We knew all along they were one of the best teams in baseball.
Of course, they also had to win the World Series. They had failed each season since the 2017 title. They fell behind 1-0 and then 2-1 in the series, but there was a feeling of inevitability in the series. I remember in Game 1 when they took a 5-0 lead being worried it would be a sweep (not because I was rooting against them, but because sweeps aren’t fun at all and I wanted it to go seven). I remember when the Phillies won Game 3, I got a sense of relief that the series was probably going back to Houston and, hey, even if it’s not seven, six-game World Series are also incredibly fun.
The pitching development system they have was on full display. Sure, 39-year-old Justin Verlander on an expensive free-agent contract helped, but otherwise it was Framber Valdez and Cristian Javier dominating with homegrown studs like Bryan Abreu and Rafael Montero excelling in the bullpen.