Be prepared. Heading into the World Series and likely before every game you will be reminded how the LA Dodgers are superior in every way to the Houston Astros. You will be bombarded with everything from their better record, their dominant post season, their top-notch pitching staff, all the way to their great history (6 WS titles), their great stadium, their great weather (though hot this time around) and Vin Sculley.
But there is a second team in this post season, and while it does not have Tommy Lasorda or Sandy Koufax or Duke Snider or Maury Wills in its background, it is just as capable of winning this series, just like it has won the last two playoff series. Here are ten reasons why the Astros are bringing home the big trophy this year.
- Road warriors. OK the Astros have not shown this side of themselves very much in the playoffs, though they did clinch the ALDS on the road. But during the regular season, the Astros were 53-28 on the road, tied for best in the majors and 6 games better than the Dodgers. This series will not be like the Yankee series where the home team holds serve.
- The Stud. Sure the Dodgers have Clayton Kershaw, who is 2-0 in the playoffs thus reversing his career trend of post season crashing and burning. But no one has been as dominant as the Astros’ late season pickup, Justin Verlander. This postseason, Verlander has a 1.46 ERA in four appearances giving up 4 runs in 24.2 IP as compared to Kershaw’s 3.63 ERA allowing 7 runs in 17.1 IP. Oh and he has a recent Cy Young winner on his side in Dallas Keuchel.
- Taxi Tested Tough. The Dodgers won their division by 11 games, the NL best record by 7 games and all of baseball by 2 games. They swept the Diamondbacks 3-0 and murdered the Cubs 4-1. They have not had to play with their backs against the wall as the Astros so brilliantly did down 3-2 in the ALCS. The Astros have shown that they can win when the odds are against them.
- ‘Tuve. Jose Altuve is a special player, who is not only the best hitter in the game – leading his league 4 years in a row in hits, 3 out of 4 in batting average and all of baseball in hits for 2 of the 4 years – but he has stepped it up in the playoffs. Justin Turner is the Dodgers version of Jose Altuve and he’s a very good player, but he is not ‘Tuve.
- Big O. Yes, the Dodgers have been hitting way over their heads based on their regular season performance in the playoffs. But, if both teams slide towards their norm – the Astros are a much better offensive team. The Astros were 1st in the majors with 896 runs scored and .282 BA/.346 OBP/ .823 OPS. The Dodgers were 12th with 770 runs scored, tied for 21st with a .249 BA, 6th with .334 OBP and 8th with a .771 OPS.
- Nerd-vana. We are being told that the pointy heads with aluminum foil wrapped around their skull, sent a message to the team that they needed to throw a lot more curves to the Yankees. Eighteen innings and only one run later, the Astros are the American League champion.
- Strength up the Middle. It is often said that a key to a team is their strength up the middle. The following numbers are based on player stats when they played that position, though obviously the numbers come mostly from Evan Gattis, Brian McCann, Altuve, Carlos Correa and George Springer from the Astro’s side.
- Catcher: Astros — 87 runs/33 HRs/103 RBIs ….Dodgers– 75 runs/29 HRs/85 RIs
- Second Base: Astros– 117 runs/ 29 HRs/ 101 RBIs and a .353/.413/.986 slash …….Dodgers — 98 runs/18 HRs/69 RBIs and a .263/.361/.786 slash
- Shortstop: Astros — 111 runs/27 HRs/112 RBIs and a .314 /.390/.907 slash…..Dodgers — 99 runs/25 HRs/ 88 RBIs and a .294/.376/.850
- Centerfield: Astros — 118 runs/39 HRs/107 RBIs and a .278/.346/.870 slash…..Dodgers — 90 runs/ 21 HRs/ 71 RBIs and a .215/.305/.685 slash
- Home field Knowledge. Symmetric Dodger stadium is 330′ down both foul lines, 385′ in each alley and 395′ to center field. Not too hard to figure out. A handful of Dodgers played at Minute Maid and its “unusual” dimensions, mini-green monster, etc. in 2015 when they got no-hit by Mike Fiers. Yeah that Mike Fiers. Probably the only Dodger to play at MMP without Tal’s Hill would be Yu Darvish who is not likely to stray far from the pitcher’s slab, which is exactly 60′-6″ from home plate.
- Tandem Twins. The Astros showed they could pull off a nice pitcher combo with the Charlie Morton and Lance McCullers Jr. seventh game shut out. It is totally possible we could see a Morton / Brad Peacock and McCullers/ Collin McHugh tandem sometime in this upcoming series.
- Baseball gods. Houston is one of the poster children for long-suffering cities in sports. On top of that the city was inundated by Hurricane Harvey, which dumped historic amounts of rain on the city and the region. So far the baseball gods have smiled on Houston and good karma should continue to fall in their favor.
A few questions for you…
- Do you have other reasons why the Astros will win the World Series?
- Do you agree with the ones above?
- Do you think anyone outside the Houston city limits will pick the Astros to win it all?