Here is a continuation of the top Astro teams of all time as we look at #5 on up to #1.
Again, in putting this list together, there were considerations to both the regular season and post-season performance of these teams. There was also some consideration of precedent too. The 1980 team won less than some of the teams below it on the list, but it went where no Astros team before it had gone, to the playoffs.
And of course this allows for lots of debate. So, without further ado – the Astros top 5 teams of all time.
#5 – 1986 – The team was the second best team in the NL at 96-66 behind the squad that eventually vanquished them – the 108 win NY Mets. The Astros clinched their division in a glorious 3 game period in late September, when Jim Deshaies 2 hit the Dodgers, Nolan Ryan and Charlie Kerfeld combined on a 2 hitter against the Giants followed by Mike Scott‘s pennant-clinching no-no against those same Giants. The playoff series against the Mets was classic, yet heartbreaking for the Astros. Mike Scott got them off to a 1-0 whitewash, but then the Astros lost the next two including a heartbreaker in Game 3, where they blew a 4 run lead in the 6th, regained a one-run lead headed to the bottom of the 9th and then saw Dave Smith give up a walk-off game-winning dinger to Lenny Dykstra. Scott evened the series in Game 4 and then the Astros lost Game 5 in 12 innings 2-1 in a game that was tied from the 5th inning onward. Game 6 with Mike Scott waiting in the wings for a Game 7 that never came was the definition of a Bridge Too Far. The Astros took a 3-0 lead into the 9th and lost that, traded runs in the 14th as Billy Hatcher hit the most dramatic HR in history up to that point. But the Mets broke through for 3 in the 16th and the Astros could only put up 2 in the bottom and left the bases loaded and one of the best teams the Astros ever had went home.
Top Everyday – Glenn Davis – .265 BA/.344 OBP/ .837 OPS/ 91 Rs/ 31 HRs/ 101 RBIs
Top Pitcher – Mike Scott – 18-10 and a 2.22 ERA and the Cy Young
#4 – 1980 – The Astros (93-70) had the best record in the NL and squeaked into the playoffs after beating the Dodgers in a one-game playoff (necessitated by losing 3 straight to the Dodgers to end the season). The Astros – Phillies match-up was a classic five-game series where the last four were decided in extra innings. After the Phillies won the first game, the Astros won the second game on a 4 run rally in the 10th (7-4) and the third game in a 1-0 Joe Niekro/ Dave Smith shutout decided in the 11th by a Joe Morgan triple and a Denny Walling Sac Fly. They needed one more win at home out of the last two games to go to the World Series. It never happened. The Astros took a 2 run lead into the 8th and the Phils scored three in Game 4. The Astros tied it, but the Phils scored 2 more in the 10th to win game four. In the 5th game they took a 3 run lead into the 8th with Nolan Ryan pitching. In a rally reminiscent of the Royals in 2015, the Phillies scored five. The Astros tied it in the bottom of the 8th, but the Phillies won the game and the series in the 10th. It was crying time in Houston….at least for me.
Top Pitcher – Vern Ruhle in a Brad Peacock role was 12-4 with a 2.37 ERA. We were left to wonder about how this season and the playoffs would have gone if not for the stroke that struck down J.R. Richard (10-4, 1.90 ERA) at the end of July.
#3 – 2018 – The defending World Series champs switched horses and rode All-World pitching and above average hitting after doing the opposite in 2017 to a club record 103- 59 record. After easily sweeping the Indians, the Astros seemed set to go to their second consecutive World Series, but they got tripped up by the Red Sox. After solidly beating the Sox in Game 1, Game 2 turned on a bases loaded double by Jackie Bradley, who also put away Game 3 with a bases loaded home run. Game 4 was the series really as Jose Altuve‘s tying home run was disallowed due to fan interference and the Astros spent the rest of the game a) not stopping the Red Sox from scoring and b) leaving too many guys on base. The Astros went home after Game 5 when JV gave up a solo home run to JD Martinez (one pitch after a strikeout was not called) and a pop-up Crawford Box 3 run HR to Rafael Devers. The Astros made David Price look like Verlander in this game and they slunk away after a great season and a disappointing playoff run.
Top Everyday – Alex Bregman – .286 BA/ .394 OBP/ .926 OPS/ 105 Rs/ 51 Dbls/ 31 HRs / 103 RBIs led the Astro hitters in most categories.
#2 – 2005 Astros – Despite a so-so looking 89-73 record in the regular season, the story of the Astros’ season was how they were 22-35 on June 8th and 15th out of 16 in the National League. They then rode a huge wave of a 67-38 record the rest of the way to grab the fourth playoff spot in the NL and knocked off the Braves in the NLCS in the epic 7-6, 18 inning game in the NLDS and then the Cardinals in the NLCS. Would the World Series sweep by the White Sox have turned out differently if Roy Oswalt did not have to close out the NLCS after Albert Pujols‘ legendary game 5 blast off Brad Lidge? Maybe.
#1 – 2017 Astros – They did not quite win the most regular season games in Astros history, but who the heck cares? They won 101 regular season games despite having to work through injuries to the pitching staff and to Charlie Morton, Dallas Keuchel, Lance McCullers, Collin McHugh and Carlos Correa. They fought tooth and nail to get past the Red Sox, Yankees and Dodgers in succession to bring home the Astros first championship. This team was never out of a game or a series, battling back to win game four against the Red Sox, battling out of a 3-2 hole to the Yankees with two clutch wins at home and then winning two of the greatest battles in World Series history in Games 2 and 5 against the Dodgers. Compared to those two games from a baseball sense, the Game 7 win was anticlimactic, but not really to the fans who witnessed what fans of the previous 55 seasons had never witnessed.
Top Everyday – Jose Altuve – AL MVP – .346 BA / .410 OBP / .957 OPS / 112 runs scored
Top Pitcher – Justin Verlander – 5-0 in the month of September with a 1.06 ERA after the trade and a 4-1 record in the postseason
Your turn. How do you think this top 10 should be laid out?