by Garret Heinrich (@GarretHeinrich)
The Houston Astros are supposed to be here. Winners of the American League West. Favorites in the American League Division Series. The best offense in baseball. This is everything Sports Illustrated predicted would happen in 2017. Well, almost everything. Still, need to win 11 games to get that prediction completely correct. But we’re close.
Now that we are here, it is a bit surreal. Carlos Correa is everything a number one overall pick should be. Jose Altuve is the Most Valuable Player in all the land, but we’ll see if loses out to the towering Aaron Judge and the powerful New York market. Justin Verlander looks like the savior. Yuri Guriell is, well, I still haven’t figured him out yet. And Josh Reddick is my favorite (I’m an A’s fan so, of course, he is.)
Now that we are here though (The ALDS is just hours away from starting as of this publishing) where should the Houston Astros look to for success in their second postseason under manager AJ Hinch?
When looking at this team, the make-up, the chemistry, the city, everything is pointless if they don’t make the World Series.
This team is going to be good for years to come, but they might never be as good and as perfect for success as they are right now. Not a single member of the 2017 Houston Astros playoff roster has a World Series ring. Not one. Every member of this team is looking to be a champion for the very first time. But there is enough success among them that they know what it takes to get there.
Starting in Game 1 against the Boston Red Sox is Justin Verlander. This is a guy who has pitched in some big games (trust me, I had to watch game 1 and game 5 of the 2012 ALDS as an A’s fan) is everything the Team needed in September and can be the workhorse to get them deep into October as well.
Not to mention that Dallas Keuchel follows up Verlander in game 2. It’s a good enough 1-2 punch to beat anyone in the league.
The three-headed monster of Altuve, Correa and George Springer on offense is something wondrous to behold. There is something different about this team when those three are clicking both on and off the field. The youthful exuberance they bring, I honestly believe make this team better. We saw when Springer and Correa missed time with injuries after the All-Star break something seemed off on this team. With all of them back, the rest of the league should be frightened.
There is no better time for a team to rise up then after their city has gone through something as catastrophic as Hurricane Harvey. The only thing that would bring more joy to this city than a Houston Astros World Series appearance this year, just months after Hurricane Harvey decimated us, would be a Houston Texans Super Bowl and we just aren’t patient enough to wait for that to happen in February.
There is no way to say that this season wasn’t a success for the Astros. They won the Division in May. They battled through a rough stretch in the dog days and bounced back only to lose the best record in the American League to a historic run by the Cleveland Indians. But if they don’t make the World Series, it will feel like a failure. They need to fulfill the prophecy. They need to find everything clicking at the right time. But most importantly, they need to remember that “we’ll get them next year” can be something that doesn’t happen for a decade and it’s been 12 years since the Astros have made the World Series.
This is a team I think will get to the World Series. And the only reason I’m not picking them to win it is, so much can happen in a crazy series like that and just getting there would be a success to me.