When a team somehow winds its way through the many land mines of three playoff series to win the ultimate prize it is easy to fixate on the few big heroes. But the Astros win was more than an Altuve, Correa, Springer, Verlander production. Here is a look at how each Astro helped the team grab the ultimate prize.
Brian McCann. McCann was well below average hitting in the playoffs with only 1 HR and 7 RBIs in 17 games and a .175 BA/ .277 OBP/ .593 OPS slash. But he had a very important role as he was the rock that the pitching staff clung to throughout the playoffs. He also did have some critical ABs, none bigger than in WS Game 5, with an eighth inning homer followed by a 10th inning HBP that led to Alex Bregman’s walkoff single scoring Derek Fisher in their classic 13-12 win.
Yuli Gurriel. Gurriel had an impactful playoffs. The Red Sox could not keep him off the base paths (9 for 17) and though that resulted in only 1 run scored and 0 RBIs, it helped turn over the lineup. In the WS he only had 6 hits in 7 games, but he had two huge HRs, starting the assault on Yu Darvish in Game 3 with his second inning HR and hitting a psychologically huge three-run homer against Clayton Kershaw to tie the fifth game at 4-4, but also showing that Kershaw was vulnerable.
Jose Altuve. While George Springer was the WS MVP, the MVP of the overall playoffs was Altuve. His 14 runs scored, seven HRs and 14 RBIs with a .310/.388/1.021 slash led the way for the Astros. He set the tone against the Red Sox with three HRs in the first game, came up big in Games 6 and 7 against the Yankees and though he slumped against the Dodgers, he still had huge HRs in both the Game 2 and Game 5 classics.
Carlos Correa. Carlos was a solid performer in the playoffs with 10 runs, 5 HRs and 14 RBIs and a .288/.325/.886 slash. He had a big four RBI performance in Game 2 against the Red Sox, but was super critical against the Yankees as he was involved in all four runs scored in the Astros duplicate 2-1 wins in Games 1 and 2. Oh and like Jose, he had huge HRs in both the Classic Games 2 and 5 against the Dodgers.
Alex Bregman. A glance at Alex’s slash numbers during the playoffs (.208 BA/ .256 OBP/.657 OPS) would lead you to believe he was pretty meh in those extra games. That would be completely wrong as he scored 11 runs, hit 4 HRs, and knocked in 10 runs with his 15 hits. He played super defense at third base, including gunning down runners at the plate. He had two huge HRs against Chris Sale in the first and fourth games of the Boston series and knocked in runs in 5 straight WS games including the game winner in Game 5.
Marwin Gonzalez. The Astros’ regular season RBI leader was bad in the playoffs with a .180/.275/.570 slash. But he had arguably the biggest hit of the WS as his 9th inning game tying HR against Kenley Jansen in Game 2 saved the Astros from the brink of a 2-0 deficit. Without that HR, the Astros may not be World Champs.
George Springer. Springer’s playoffs were the story of two George’s – the Great George (.412/.474/1.180 against BOS and .379/.471/1.471 against LAD) and the Putrid George .115/.233/.349 against the Yanks. He set WS records for total bases and home runs in five games and of course hit the game winner in Game 2. And of course he was named the WS MVP.
Josh Reddick. Josh had a good series against the Red Sox (.375/.444/.819) and then forgot how to hit, going 1 for 25 against the Yanks and 4 for 24 against the Dodgers. Maybe it was bad karma from his celebration “outfit”. His big clutch moment was his eighth inning single against Craig Kimbrell in the deciding game of the Boston series to give the Astros a 4-3 lead.
Carlos Beltran. After a great career, Beltran had become mostly a liability in his last season with the Astros as a DH. By the time the playoffs came around, he was a minimal part-time DH who had three hits in 20 ABs. But…..one of those hits ended up plating the winning round in the deciding game against the Red Sox as he went the other way and lined a double off the Green Monster.
Evan Gattis. Gattis had a fairly quiet post season with McCann doing most of the catching and Evan again not hitting that well as a DH. However, the only hit he had in the Yankee series was the HR that got them rolling to a seventh game win against the Pinstripers.
Derek Fisher. Fisher officially had no ABs in the postseason, walking in his one plate appearance in the Yankee series. But no Astro fan will ever forget him pinch running for Brian McCann and scoring the walk off winning run in the fifth game of the World Series.
Cameron Maybin. The “other” guy picked up at the end of August by the Astros had little exposure in the playoffs as mostly a late inning replacement and/or pinch runner. But he had a couple special moments in the playoffs. First he pinch ran for Evan Gattis and scored the go ahead run on Reddick’s single during the Astros eighth inning rally in the fourth game against the Red Sox. Then in the eleventh inning of Game 2 of the WS, he led off with a single, stole second and scored on George Springer’s huge game winning homer.
Juan Centeno. Yes the third catcher only had one unsuccessful AB in the post season, but….. it is likely that his presence on the roster gave A.J. Hinch the guts to pinch run for Brian McCann with Fisher, who scored the winning run in the WS Game 5 win.
Dallas Keuchel. It would be easy to let his last game, a short 3.2 IP, 4 runs 3 ER appearance in the 13-12 Game 5 win be the lasting memory of Keuchel in the playoffs. But he pitched very well in wins over both the Red Sox and the Yanks and his game 1 loss to the Dodgers was well pitched except for the two gopher balls he allowed.
Justin Verlander. Even though JV pitched very well in the postseason, it is hard to remember that he did not win a WS game. After beating the Red Sox as a Game 1 starter and a Game 4 reliever and then holding the Yanks to one run in 16 innings in a Game 2 and Game 6 win, he ran into bad luck as his six inning 3 run and six inning two-run outings ended up as a no decision and a loss respectively.
Charlie Morton. He was the man who was on the mound when the Astros put the demons behind them in the 7th game of the World Series. But did you remember that he started the deciding games against Boston and New York? He held it together despite giving up seven hits and two walks in 4.1 IP against Boston and allowed the team to stay close and eventually win that one. He also won the seventh game against NYY with five shutout innings. It is true he got bombed before that in Game 4 against the Yanks (which makes game 7 more impressive), but he also threw 6.1 great innings of one-run ball against the Dodgers in Game 4 of the WS.
Lance McCullers Jr. He was last seen being pulled after 2.1 IP in Game 7 of the WS due to hitting four batters more than anything. But he also won Game 3 of the WS and was most notable for being the tandem reliever clinching a spot in the WS with four innings of one hit ball against the Yanks.
Brad Peacock. He was used seven times in the playoffs, the first time in an unsuccessful start against the Red Sox, but thereafter as an important piece out of the bullpen. His two best moments were…. first a 3.2 IP scoreless save in Game 3 of the WS. Then a solid two scoreless innings in the clinching Game 7 of the WS.
Ken Giles. He was falling apart so badly that he was not used after Game 4 of the WS, though there was certainly a need for help in the bullpen. But he did have his moments in the playoffs, including two saves against the Red Sox that were both more than one inning long.
Colin McHugh. He slid from the starting rotation to a bullpen piece that was only used twice in the playoffs. The three-run homer he gave up to Cody Bellinger immediately after Gurriel’s HR had tied it in the marathon Game 5 of the WS will always be remembered. But he also helped immensely against the Yanks with a four-inning stint in a lost game that saved the rest of the bullpen for another day.
Will Harris. He was used six times for only four innings of work during the playoffs with mixed success (like most of the bullpen). His best moment had to be throwing a scoreless seventh inning in the 7-6 Game 2 win over the Dodgers.
Joe Musgrove. Oh, Joe…. we hardly knew ye. He will be missed with this team in the future. During the playoffs he was used seven times and put up a none too consoling 8.10 ERA. However, he threw a scoreless eighth in Game 2 of the WS and another scoreless 11th inning in winning the marathon Game 5.
Chris Devenski. He ended up with a 9.00 playoff ERA, but that might have been due to having him pitch in 10 of the 18 post season games (and likely warming up in a few more). He may be remembered for blowing the three-run lead in the WS Game 5, but he also had some good moments in a number of games, including coming out in the Game 7 clincher and getting a big out with two runners on base. He also earned the win in the Game 2 WS classic.
Luke Gregerson. He was not used that much (3.2 IP in 5 postseason appearances) but Gregerson had a clean record in the playoffs. He gave up no runs and he did not allow any of the four runners he inherited to score. Folks will not remember it that way, but it was true.
Francisco Liriano. He had one bad appearance in the playoffs as he gave up a go-ahead 2 run HR in a game 3 loss to the Red Sox. But he came out of the bullpen four other times, faced 7 batters and gave up a single walk and that included the first game win vs. Boston and the last game win vs. LA.
So, there you go a synopsis of the big heroes, the quiet heroes and the almost invisible contributors. How does this match your memories?