The Houston Astros are World Champions for the second time in franchise history, and this time, Astros fans could watch as their team dance around and celebrate at Minute Maid Park on Saturday night.
For many reasons, the 2022 season for the Astros will go down as one of the most memorable seasons in franchise history. Skipper Dusty Baker, one of the most iconic figures in all of baseball, was finally able to hoist up the Commissioner’s Trophy for the first time as a manager. With a baseball career of over fifty years, Baker had never won a championship as a manager. Coming so close in Game Six of the 2002 World Series with the San Francisco Giants, the Anaheim Angels would battle back late to win and force Game Seven. The rest would be history, as the Angels would go on to win it all, leaving Baker to keep searching for that championship. Twenty years and ten days later, that search was finally over.
The 2022 season was filled with many firsts, starting with rookie shortstop Jeremy Peña. With Carlos Correa departing for free agency and electing to sign with the Minnesota Twins, the spotlight quickly turned to Peña. The Astros could have made a run to sign Javier Báez or Trevor Story, but the Astros chose to stick with Peña, a move that would pay off in the biggest of ways. A lock for AL Rookie of the Year, Peña remained consistent throughout the season.
Peña found an extra gear when the postseason arrived and ran with it. In the 18-inning game against the Seattle Mariners in the ALDS, Peña sent the Astros to their sixth consecutive ALCS appearance with a home run to left field to break the tie. Facing a New York Yankees team that wanted to make it to the World Series badly, Peña came through in the clutch to win MVP honors to send the Astros to the World Series. The hot streak would continue against the Philadelphia Phillies with timely hitting, and once again, Peña came through, earning MVP honors yet again and showing the world why he deserved these awards.
Peña becomes the first rookie to be awarded a Gold Glove, ALCS MVP, hit a home run in a World Series, and win the World Series MVP, all in the same season. Sometimes going with homegrown talent versus going out and getting a big-name free agent is the best way to go.
We cannot forget about Justin Verlander. Coming off a Tommy John surgery that kept him out of baseball since the 2020 season, the 39-year-old pitcher was uncertain how this season would go at the start of Spring Training. Listening to his body and the trainers, Verlander is a lock to win AL Comeback Player of the Year and the AL Cy Young Award with an 18-4 record and a 1.75 ERA this season. A remarkable statistic that no one, not even Verlander, would have predicted.
James Click and Jim Crane built the Astros to win the World Series this year. With a rotation that was one of the deepest in baseball with Framber Valdez, Lance McCullers Jr., and Verlander at the helm. We cannot overlook Cristian Javier, who played an essential role in Game Four of the World Series to tie the series up with his six innings of no-hit baseball, which would lead to a combined no-hitter, a first in World Series history. A bullpen with the second-lowest ERA in World Series history led by Hector Neris, Rafael Montero, Bryan Abreu, Ryne Stanek, and Ryan Pressly.
We would not be able to round out this World Series Championship without the stars of the lineup. Jose Altuve was the engine that got things started for the Astros offense this season. This postseason was not kind to Altuve, but he kept battling, and once the World Series began, he was able to get that timing down when he needed it the most. Alex Bregman was off and on all season, but the postseason woke up his bat with timely hitting, adding to the Astros World Series victory.
Astros fans would like to have seen Yuli Gurriel in the lineup for Game Six, but an unfortunate knee injury in Game Five knocked Gurriel out for the rest of the World Series. Struggling most of the season, the 2021 AL Batting Champion was able to come alive in the postseason to help guide the middle of this lineup when it needed him the most.
Yordan Alvarez and Kyle Tucker are finally World Series Champions. Both joined the team in 2019; Alvarez and Tucker have been at the heart of this Astros lineup. Battling a hand injury for most of the season, Alvarez was able to walk it off every time the Astros were trailing this postseason. From the monster home run against the Mariners in the ALDS to the 450 ft blast in the World Series against the Phillies, it was Alvarez that came through to send the Astros to the next round.
An All-Star and Gold Glove winner, Tucker was a menace in right field for the Astros. Teams learn quickly that you better not run on Tucker because you will be out if you do. A 30/30 player for the first time in his career, Tucker became the first player to hit a home run in his first two World Series at-bats in Game One. Along with Tucker was Chas McCormick. From hitting a home run off Gerrit Cole in Game Four of the ALCS to his incredible catch to rob J.T. Realmuto of extra bases in Game Five of the World Series, McCormick showed why he deserved to be in the lineup and playing centerfield.
A World Series Championship would not be complete without a storybook ending for Trey Mancini. Coming over via trade from the Baltimore Orioles, Mancini’s story goes from uncertainty to glory in just two years. When Mancini was diagnosed with colon cancer in March 2020, he sat out the entire season to get treatment. After six months of chemotherapy, Mancini was declared cancer free and returned to baseball in 2021. The postseason may not have gone the way Mancini wanted it to, but his game-saving play in Game Five put the Astros in a position to win the World Series. We might be looking at Game Seven on Sunday if that play went differently.
Whether or not the baseball world likes it, the Houston Astros are your 2022 World Series Champions! Congratulations on a hard-fought season!
Be sure to comment below on your favorite moments from the World Series.
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