The reigning World Series champs have done it again, you guys.
Despite getting some late-season heat from the Oakland Athletics, the Houston Astros have not only won the American League West for the second consecutive year, but they’ve also accomplished it in dominant fashion. Manager A.J. Hinch’s squad won’t own baseball’s best overall record, but this is the second straight year they’ve notched at least 100 wins prior to October.
While they’ve accomplished quite a bit since returning to the playoffs in 2015 for the first time in 10 years, let’s not forget how bad they were not too long ago.
In an effort to build a consistent contender, the Astros completely demolished their big-league roster at the start of this decade, evidenced by three consecutive campaigns of 100-plus losses from 2011-13.
Going from 100 losses to 100 wins within four seasons is a feat in itself, but reaching 100 wins yet again this year brings another layer to it. With the help of Diane Firstman, here are the only two other instances in which a team has registered consecutive 100-loss and 100-win performances in the same decade:
- Philadelphia Athletics: Won 100-plus games in 1910 and 1911 before losing 100-plus in 1915 and 1916.
- Philadelphia Athletics: Lost 100-plus games in 1920 and 1921 before winning 100-plus in 1929 and 1930.
Now that’s pretty cool.
There’s some precedent for Houston to uphold here, too. Each time the A’s won at least 100 games in the above sequences, they went on to win the World Series.
How have the Astros reached the century mark once again in 2018? Their offense is still really good — their 111 team wRC+ heading into Wednesday’s games is the best in baseball (mostly thanks to Alex Bregman‘s awesome season), but the pitching staff has been lights out.
This group of hurlers currently leads the league in both team ERA (3.13) and fWAR (29.6) by a comfortable margin. That’s been possible by some solid continuity in the starting rotation. Prior to Lance McCullers hitting the disabled list in August, Houston had only used five starting pitchers all season, which included Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, Dallas Keuchel, and Charlie Morton.
Houston’s road back to the World Series won’t be easy thanks to some great American League teams, but they appear ready for the challenge.
About Matt Musico
Matt currently manages Chin Music Baseball and contributes to The Sports Daily. His past work has been featured at numberFire, Yahoo! Sports and Bleacher Report. He’s also written a book about how to become a sports blogger. You can sign up for his email newsletter here.