Bill Gilbert: Astros Win 2017 ALCS

Minute Maid Park is now the home of the only MLB franchise to have won both the NL (2005) and the AL (2017) pennants.

 

Houston Astros Win 2017 American League Championship

Bill Gilbert’s Report
on the
2017 Houston Astros
Taking the AL Pennant

By Bill Gilbert

The Houston Astros defeated the Boston Red Sox, 3 games to 1 and the New York Yankees, 4 games to 3 to win the 2007 AL Pennant. After beating two big payroll teams, they are now faced with the granddaddy of big payroll teams, the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series.

In the Astros runaway win in the regular season, the hitters carried the day, leading the major leagues in most offensive categories, while the pitchers were only slightly better than the MLB average. However in the playoffs, the opposite was true. The pitchers carried the team, particularly Justin Verlander and Dallas Keuchel, who accounted for 6 of the teams 7 wins. The relief pitching was inconsistent but the team received a big bonus when Charlie Morton and Lance McCullers, Jr. combined for a shutout in the clinching game with the Yankees.

The hitting was another story, especially in the three losses in Yankee Stadium. The team batting average in the two series was only .247 compared to .282 in the regular season. Only Jose Altuve (.400), Yuli Gurriel (.366) and Carlos Correa (.295) hit better than .250. However, the bats started to come alive in games 6 and 7 when the team arrived home. The team hit 12 home runs in the two series, 10 of them from infielders Altuve, Correa and Alex Bregman. George Springer hit the only home run by an outfielder and Altuve led all players in the playoffs with 5 homers.

The Astros will have their hands full with the Dodgers in the World Series. The Dodgers were the best team in MLB in the regular season with 104 wins and they have been even better in the postseason with a record of 7-1 in their wins over Arizona and the Cubs. They will have the home field advantage which the Astros enjoyed against the Red Sox and Yankees. The Dodgers have the best starting pitcher in baseball in Clayton Kershaw and they have probably the best closer in Casey Jansen. They have two emerging superstars in Corey Seager and Cody Ballinger and also have a number of productive lesser-known players like Justin Turner, Chris Taylor and former Astro draftee and farmhand, Kike Hernandez. Hernandez and Altuve both have had three-home run games in the playoffs this year.

The Astros and Dodgers did not play each other during the regular season. The Dodgers starting rotation is largely left-handed which should be an advantage to the Astros with their predominantly right-handed lineup. However, the Dodgers have greater depth than the Astros and much stronger relief pitching. The first two games will be played in Los Angeles before the Astros return home for the next three. If the Astros can win one of the first two in LA, they should have a reasonable chance to pull an upset in the Series.

 

Bill Gilbert

10/22/17

 

*******************

Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

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