Houston, we have liftoff: Astros win first World Series

| Senior Sports Editor

506

That’s how many games the Houston Astros lost from July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2014, the day Sports Illustrated declared them 2017 World Series champs.

5’6”

That’s how tall their best player was—Jose Altuve, suddenly hitting a batting title-worthy .341 after three meager years at .285.

Today, the Astros are world champions, a 101-win powerhouse driven by their minutely-made second baseman—now, not only Houston’s best, but baseball’s.

George Springer, the cover’s defining figure, was striking out a third of the time—more than Aaron Judge did this season—when the magazine made him the face of its bold prediction. Now, he’s cut that down dramatically, to a well-below-average 17.6 percent, sparking each Astros onslaught at the top of the order. With five dingers to tie a World Series high, his inclusion as the front-page model looks even more prescient than the prophecy.

The Houston Astros' George Springer (4) celebrates his two-run home run with Carlos Correa in the second inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers during Game 7 of the World Series at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017. Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times/TNS

The Houston Astros’ George Springer (4) celebrates his two-run home run with Carlos Correa in the second inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers during Game 7 of the World Series at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017.

Altuve has ascended furiously, pounding 200 hits four straight times while the rest of the league combined to do it three. In 2017, he gave the sport a season for the ages, likely becoming the second player since 1988 to win the MVP and the World Series.

Carlos Correa, the crown jewel of the strict, deliberate process, was the first in a series of three consecutive first overall picks handpicked to jumpstart Houston to contender status. Alex Bregman was the pick the year the Astros found their way to the AL playoffs for the first time—they began this arduous journey in the NL—and no one could be found playing harder in this Fall Classic.

And they fueled up at exactly the right time, adding future Hall of Famer Justin Verlander to co-ace Dallas Keuchel just two seconds before the deadline. Every decision, for a decade, aligned perfectly to bring Houston to this point.

More than talent, the Astros visibly played with heart, rallying around a Houston community that was devastated by Hurricane Harvey. They won two of the most thrilling baseball games ever played, beating a machine, Kenley Jansen, in Game 2 and coming back against the superhuman Clayton Kershaw in Game 5 to bring the banner home.

They wrote a script fit for Hollywood, and for one day at least, Houston has no problems.