Just for fun – here are a couple of Postseason lists as judged by your loyal scribe.
Top Ten Astros for the 2022 Playoffs
- Jeremy Pena. In the 13-game postseason, he led the team in BA (.345), OPS (1.005), runs scored (12), hits (20), and home runs (4) and tied for first with 5 doubles. His solo home run won the ALDS 18-inning marathon with the M’s, and he was MVP of both the ALCS and WS. He seemed to be a key figure in most of the Astros’ run-scoring innings.
- Framber Valdez. After a poor performance in the 2021 World Series, Framber had something to prove, and he did. He was 3-0 in four starts, had 33 Ks in 25 innings with a 0.88 WHIP, and kept things under control except for one solo home run in the 6th game victory over the Phils.
- Yordan Alvarez. He mostly stunk things up, but….they don’t win the first game of the playoffs against the M’s without his walk-off shot heard around the world, and they don’t turn the last game of the World Series into the last game without his grand shot over the batter’s eye in center. Even while hitting .192, he easily led the team with 14 RBIs over these 13 games.
- Ryan Pressly. I’ll just say it straight. This was the finest single postseason performance by an Astros closer in the history of the club. Whether the closer was named Dave Smith, Billy Wagner, Brad Lidge, Ken Giles, Roberto Osuna or even Pressly in previous seasons, there were always hiccoughs and sometimes season-ending problems at the end of games. Pressly was 6 for 6 in save opportunities and gave up one unearned run in 10 games and 11 innings of work.
- Alex Bregman. Even with a few struggles in the World Series, Bregman was the second-best hitter overall in the postseason with a sterling slash of .294 BA/ .379 OBP/ .948 OPS. He had 11 RBIs and 3 HRs, none bigger than the 2 run homer that set up Alvarez’s walk-off in the first game of the playoffs.
- Cristian Javier. He probably should be higher on this list, and if he had more than two starts he would be. His start to an eventual no-hitter in the fourth game of the World Series emboldened his teammates and flipped the series on its ear. The Phils’ offense never really returned after that game.
- Bryan Abreu. Before the season, many folks were wondering if this was a last chance for Abreu to find a spot on the team. By the end of the season, he was a prime member of the bullpen, and in the postseason he was a dominant force throwing 11.1 innings of scoreless baseball in 10 appearances with 19 Ks. He looks like a future closer or perhaps a future starter with the stuff he showed.
- Yuli Gurriel. In what may or may not be Yuli’s last hurrah as an Astro, he bounced back from a poor showing in the regular season to have a very effective postseason. His .350 BA and his .850 OPS were strong and a guy who had 8 HRs in 545 regular season ABs, launched 2 HRs in 49 ABs in the post season.
- Rafael Montero. This may feel weird as the last time we saw him he had to have Pressly come save his tail in Game 5 of the World Series. However, considering he was pretty overexposed having been used in 10 of the first 12 postseason games and four of the first five WS games, he did well. He could not have thought when he left Seattle in the middle of 2021 with a 7.27 ERA and almost immediately getting injured in Houston that he would be the high leveraged eighth inning reliever for a World Champion.
- Luis Garcia. Garcia had one of the most impactful relief appearances for the Astros as he was the winner in the 18-inning ALDS clincher. He threw 5 scoreless innings where any bobble in the first four innings would have ended the game in the Mariners’ favor.
The most amazing fact connected with this top 10 list is that it does not contain the names of Justin Verlander, Lance McCullers, Jose Altuve or Kyle Tucker. But this shows the depth of this team’s talent and clutchness (if there is such a word).
Top 5 Astro Playoff Games in 2022
The Astros won 11 games on the way to their title. Which five were the top games?
- Game 6 of the World Series – There are arguments for other games, but this is the one that ended it all. The game featured terrific Astro pitching, including Valdez, Neris, Abreu and Pressly, an opposing manager making a move that only prodded the sleeping giant, and the sleeping giant, Yordan Alvarez hitting the shot that keeps getting repeated on the fans’ DVRs.
- Game 1 of the ALDS – This looked like what could be the beginning of the end for the Astros. They were losing at home 5-0 behind their superior ace, Justin Verlander and looked like they might get steamrolled by the highly enthusiastic Mariners. The bullpen held the M’s mostly in check and an 8th inning swat by Bregman brought them within breathing distance. Two very tough at bats by rookies David Hensley and Jeremy Pena set the table and Manager Scott Servais brought in non-reliever Robbie Ray, who served up a game ending fastball to Air Yordan.
- Game 3 of the ALDS – The Mariners’ home stadium was practically on fire with excitement as their team took the field for the first home playoff game since 2001. Eighteen exhausting innings later their team’s season was over. Eight Astro pitchers had stymied them and Jeremy Pena hit the deciding home run into a disappointed crowd in a 1-0 game that Astro fans thought would be lost long before it was won.
- Game 4 of the World Series – The Astros had been stunned in the opener, had then tied it up in Game 2 and then had been spanked by the Phillies and their 5 home runs 7-0 in Game 3 of the series. This was the game that would either change the momentum and give the Astros a two out of three series or it might bury the Astros in a 3-1 hole. Cristian Javier and his bullpen compadres threw a no hitter at a red hot Phills’ offense and the Astros ran off with a 5 run rally in the fifth, facilitated by Manager Rob Thomson throwing reliever Jose Alvarado to the lions in a no out bases loaded situation. He plunked Yordan and gave up a huge double to Bregman to spring board the rally. The Astros won and never looked back.
- Game 1 of the ALCS – The Yankees were hot and bothered for revenge against the Astros, who had eliminated them in 2015, 2017 and 2019. Justin Verlander was coming off a shaky start in the ALDS and the team’s offense had looked anemic in the 18 inning win over the M’s. Verlander struck out 11 over 6 innings of 1 run ball and the offense featured mostly the end of the lineup as Martin Maldonado doubled in Chas McCormick, who also homered after a homer by Yuli Gurriel and before a homer by Jeremy Pena. The Astros never took their foot off the Yankees’ throats as they swept them off the board in four games.
Your turn – how would you rank players and games for this postseason?