FOUR. MORE. WINS. AS WE inch closer to the World Series, remember that saying. Tattoo that in your brain like Carlos Correa’s sleeve. The Houston Astros need only four wins to take home the World Series trophy.
This is a team that has been to the American League Championship Series five times in a row. They now have three World Series berths in those five seasons. This is a baseball dynasty, no question.
But last week, it felt like it was almost about to slip away. Astros fans were feeling nervous. The Boston Red Sox had taken a 2-1 lead after hitting three grand slams in two games, a feat that’s never been done before in playoff history.
Houston took a deep breath, splashed water on their face and came back to win three games in a row, two of those in Boston.
Now the only “feat” the Red Sox will be doing is warming “feet” as it gets colder in New England.
How did the Astros get here?
Here’s the deal, the Astros are built for the playoffs. This isn’t your late 1990s - early 2000s team, this is the Houston dynasty Astros.
There hasn’t been a more resilient team in baseball for decades and they have arguably some of the best depth in pitching and hitting.
Over the past two seasons, the Astros have fought through major injuries (Justin Verlander has only pitched six innings since 2020), played through a pandemic, lost their General Manager (Jeff Luhnow) and Manager (AJ Hinch) and had to endure booing fans and biased media types.
The numbers are there, they have been one of the best teams statistically over the past five seasons. But something that can’t be added to a spreadsheet is the closeness and belief this team shares. A lot of credit is due to Astros manager Dusty Baker, who has come in and guided this team to the top.
I spoke with Astros catcher Martín Maldonado, who told me about the family aspect of this team.
“This team is very special, and we are a family, we love each other,” Maldonado said.
The love this team shares can be seen on TV, at games, and in pictures. You can see the level of care the entire team has for one another.
Astros reliever Ryne Stanek, who joined the team this offseason, expanded on this in a telephone call.
“This is an incredibly tight knit group,” he said. “It meant so much that the biggest names were also the ones that came up to me first in camp and were like you’re going to be a big part of what we’re trying to do this year, so be ready.”
This closeness leads to a monolithic bond that allows them to pick each other up and aim for the highest baseball prize, a World Series trophy.
The relational aspect of the team is important, but the statistics stand out and have all season. During the regular season, the Astros were at the top in hitting, pitching and defense.
On the hitting side, the offense led the American League in runs and hits, while the pitching staff ranked fourth in the AL in ERA and allowed the third-fewest runs. Defensively, the ‘Stros had the best fielding percentage in baseball.
Those stats are good and Astros’ ace Lance McCullers Jr. agrees. He told me that’s what makes this team special
“It is our ability to win at every facet of the game. We can win on the offensive side via 1-9 hitters and any starting pitcher that goes out there will compete,” he said.
“Other teams rely on a few players, for us, it can be everybody that makes us tough to beat,” he said.
Can the Astros win it all?
According to FanGraphs Baseball, the Astros have the best chance to win the World Series at 52.9% as of Oct. 23. This means absolutely nothing, but it does show that in a computer simulation the Astros finish as the winners.
Outside of a computer simulation, the Astros are still the team to beat the Atlanta Braves. And bringing another trophy to Houston is something players want for the city.
“This city has had our backs since day one. It’ll mean the world for us to pay them back with another championship,” shortstop Carlos Correa said. “The support and love we’ve received from them doesn’t go unnoticed, so we really want to finish the job for them.”
Players notice the love the Astros fans have for the team, and their unwavering support. The Astros winning a second World Championship would forever cement this team as one of the greatest in any sport to play for this city.
They would be in the same conversation as the mid-90’s championship Rockets, but regardless of the outcome, their resiliency will forever define them and give fans the ability to call them what they truly are: a dynasty.