Sports

Astros In The ALCS Has Become An Expectation

Alex Bregman #2 of the Houston Astros celebrates as the Astros defeat the Chicago White Sox 10-1 to win Game 4 of the American League Division Series at Guaranteed Rate Field on October 12, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois. The Astros won the American League Division Series 3-1 and will advance to the American League Championship Series.
(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

 

The Houston Astros have been one of the premier organizations in MLB during the past five seasons, cheating scandal aside.

They have been so good that their presence in the American League Championship Series has become a norm, an expectation, during the last five years.

After the Cleveland Indians and the Toronto Blue Jays played the ALCS in 2016, the Astros have been present in each and every one of the last five editions.

 

Houston Has Remained An Elite Team For Years

That’s not a product of luck, or cheating (they only implemented the scheme in 2017): the fact that Houston planned for years to have a strong core that let the franchise fight for championships should be highlighted.

Reaching the ALCS is no piece of cake, so imagine doing it for five straight years.

In the 2017 edition, they eliminated the New York Yankees in a very close, hotly contested series.

That year, they went on to win the World Series by defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers.

In 2018, the Boston Red Sox, arguably the best team in baseball that year, defeated the Astros in the ALCS.

A year later, in 2019, Houston once again topped the Yankees, this time 4-2, with the unforgettable Jose Altuve walk-off home run off Aroldis Chapman in Game 6.

Fast forward to 2020, and the Astros reached the ALCS again, but this time, they lost to the Tampa Bay Rays, 4-3.

Houston had lost the first three games, but came back to tie the series 3-3.

They couldn’t complete the dramatic comeback and Tampa advanced to the Fall Classic, where they fell to the Dodgers, 4-2.

2021 was no different than the previous four, as Houston eliminated the Chicago White Sox in the ALDS, 3-1, and earned the right to play in the ALCS once again.

Their rival will be the Red Sox, who sent the Rays home, also 3-1.

 

Built For Sustained Success

The Astros are currently enjoying the results of great planning and constant losing.

Since losing the 2005 World Series against the White Sox, Houston didn’t advance to the postseason until 2015.

That year, they won the Wild Card Game against the Yankees but lost in the Division Series against the Kansas City Royals, the World Series champions.

But the work behind the scenes had started a long time ago.

For example, they signed Altuve as an amateur free agent in 2007.

They also signed Framber Valdez and Luis Garcia as amateur free agents in 2015 and 2017, respectively.

The draft was instrumental in building the Astros’ current core.

They took Carlos Correa with the first overall pick in 2012, and Lance McCullers in the same draft but with the 41st pick.

Correa led the Astros in Wins Above Replacement in 2021, with 5.8.

The 2015 draft was crucial in building the current team: they took Alex Bregman with the second overall pick, and Kyle Tucker in the fifth round.

Tucker hit .294/.359/.557 with 30 home runs and 14 stolen bases in 2021, and has blossomed into a middle-of-the-order masher for Houston.

Yes, the Astros have been good on the field, but their success can also be attributed to their work in the front office.



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