In what will likely go down as one of the greatest all-time World Series victories, the Houston Astros defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers to become the 2017 World Champions. It was special. It was dramatic. It was long. It was difficult to watch. It was amazing.
In 2004, I bet $5 that the Houston Astros would win the World Series. This is true. If I remember correctly, I had been informed by a mysterious old man that the Astros would win the Series after acquiring Carlos Beltran, so I made that bet with confidence. Unfortunately, Beltran and the Astros chose the wrong year to win it all.
Obviously, I should have actually read the book. Or read Sports Illustrated three years ago. The 2004 Astros had indeed acquired Carlos Beltran for the stretch run, much like the 2017 team, but their story did not end as well. Despite having Texas icons like Biggio, Bagwell, Berkman, and Roger Clemens on the playoff roster, along with an MVP level performance from Beltran, they were stopped short by the St Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals then ran into the curse-breaking 2004 Red Sox, and that potentially historic Astros playoff team became an easily forgotten footnote. They would return to the playoffs in 2005, sans a healthy Bagwell but with a healthy Andy Pettite, and they actually made it to the World Series!! That team was then destroyed by the Chicago White Sox. Baseball is hard.
Sometimes, great teams earn a window of opportunity but fail to win 11 games in October. The Atlanta Braves were great for ten years. TEN YEARS!!! They only have one championship flag for all that success. That is why the playoffs are special and heartbreaking and awesome and unpredictable and sexy and tense and fun. Did I say sexy? I meant gritty. I always confuse those. You're welcome, David Eckstein and Willie Bloomquist.
My point is this: The Astros truly earned this win, and I hope that Houston fans realize just how special and unlikely it was. The two best teams in baseball made it to the World Series and went at it for seven games. The Astros beat a historically good Dodgers team.
As for the Dodgers, they get to start over in February like everyone else. Nothing is promised. Teams will often come close and never win it. The playoffs are unpredictable. Front offices have little control over the playoffs, so they do their best to create a nice window for success. This Phillies had theirs ten years ago, and got a win. The Rangers had theirs six years ago, and never pulled it off. The 2004 and 2005 Astros are still without a championship flag. The Braves were incredible throughout my childhood, with only one championship flag hanging in Atlanta. The Cubs and Dodgers appear to be right in the middle of their respective windows, along with the Indians and Astros and Red Sox and Yankees. Nothing is promised.
Get ready for an exciting offseason, as front offices throughout the league look to open windows and create opportunity. As you root for your favorite teams to make the big trade or signing, keep all of this in mind. It's all about giving your team a small chance in October.
The rest is up to fate, and the time traveling folks at Sports Illustrated.
1B: Brandon Belt
2B: Joe Panik
SS: Brandon Crawford
3B: Eduardo Nunez
LF: Mac Williamson OR Jarrett Parker OR Gorkys Hernandez, but probably not Hernandez because he's bad
CF: Denard Span
RF: Hunter Pence
SP: Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija, Matt Moore, Matt Cain
RP: Bunch of good dudes that throw hard, and Mark Melancon
Smart people who like the Giants, including Grant Brisbee at McCovey Chronicles, have acknowledged that projection systems do not believe the Giants will win their division. PECOTA has them pegged as a good team, but also happens to believe that the Dodgers will destroy the world. All systems appear to like their chances of getting a playoff spot.
The 2016 Giants finished further out from the division title than the standings convey. Although they finished four games behind the Dodgers, the standings fail to show that the Dodgers had wrapped up the division a week before the season ended, and the Giants continued to fight for a spot throughout the final series.
With that said, the Giants led the division for the majority of the season, and were actually one of the league's best teams at the half-way point. The team's top two pitchers performed well throughout the season, while offseason pickup Jeff Samardjkhiosdhojsndshakosdhishdjsd struggled at times. Still, he turned in a somewhat typical 2.6 WAR season in the middle of the rotation.
Personally, I think the projection systems have overstated the Dodgers' starting pitching and underestimated the Giants' lineup. This should be an extremely tight division. The projection systems correctly consider the Giants to be a top five team in the NL, but I believe that they are a potential top five team in MLB...
Spanning an entire continent, lifelong fans Chris Kubak and Tom Baird take you on a magical, sabermetrically enhanced journey through Major League Baseball.