Houston Wins Second World Series in Six Years

The next dynasty could be forming in Houston with the Astros’ second World Series title in six years, defeating the Philadelphia Phillies in six games. Headlined by dominant pitching throughout the playoffs and timely hitting, Houston silenced their critics saying they can’t win without cheating by rolling through their competition, showing their well-roundedness as a team and organization.

This was the team’s fourth World Series appearance since 2017, and after losing key pieces in that span such as all-stars Carlos Correa and George Springer, the team is able to find and develop quality players to take their spot, with none bigger than American League Championship and World Series Most Valuable Player Jeremy Pena. Pena became the first rookie to ever win World Series MVP, finishing the series hitting .400 with a home run and three RBIs. Also playing stellar defense at shortstop, Pena cemented himself as a pivotal piece of the Astros dominance and a rising star in the league.

Manager Dusty Baker made history with his first World Series championship, becoming the seventh manager in the divisional era to win a title as both a player and manager, joining Alex Cora, Joe Girardi, Davey Johnson, Lou Piniella, Dave Roberts, and Mike Scioscia.

At 73 years old, Baker became the oldest manager to ever win a championship in any of the four major North American sports. In his 25 years of managerial experience, he had only been to the World Series twice prior to this season in his final season with the San Francisco Giants in 2002, when the team lost to the Los Angeles Angels in seven games. Baker also lost the World Series with the Astros in 2021 in six games to the Atlanta Braves. Baker had registered 2093 wins before winning a World Series, which was the most wins by any active manager without a title.

Houston finished the season with 106 wins, marking the second-highest in team history, only one behind the franchise record with 107 in 2019. The team tallied the fourth most home runs per team with 214 with five players surpassing 20 home runs. The heart of the lineup consisting of Jose Altuve, Jeremy Pena, Alvarez, Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker all played at least 135 games to keep the reputation of one of the most feared lineups in baseball.

Two-time Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander is well on his way to his third after finishing the season with the second-lowest earned run average in American League history with a 1.75 ERA, trailing only Pedro Martinez’s mark set in 2000. Framber Valdez set an MLB record with 25 consecutive quality starts, surpassing Jacob deGrom’s mark set in 2018 with 24. The bullpen set records of their own with a dominant 0.88 ERA throughout the playoffs of any bullpen with at least 45 innings pitched, crushing the mark set by the 2013 Red Sox at 1.28.

Houston’s 2.80 regular season bullpen ERA also totaled the lowest of any team in the league to go with the all-time postseason record. The team also allowed the fewest hits and earned runs on the season to remain amongst the top pitching staffs in the league, headlined by a dominant back end of the rotation of Bryan Abreu, Rafael Montero and Ryan Pressly.

The continuous success the Astros have seen has been in large part of the team’s management and ability to develop young players within their organization who make an instant impact on the team. Players such as Pena, Alvarez and Tucker are the team’s latest homegrown stars to lead the team to five division titles in the past six seasons, keeping a young, experienced core of players together to remain the team to beat in the American League.

Houston will enter the 2023 season as the favorite to represent the American League in the World Series with +550 odds. There has not been a repeat champion since the New York Yankees did it from 1998-2000 as the Astros will be the next team to look to put an end to that streak. The defending champions will keep a majority of their title-winning team, with the core of their lineup all under team control for the 2023 season.