The last decade was a rollercoaster for the Houston Astros. The team saw its fair share of losing, winning, and drama. We've got to wind back the clock to fully understand the team's wild journey the past ten years.
Beginning in 2010 and rolling into 2013, the Houston Astros were by far the worst team in all of baseball. Across that three-year window, the Astros never eclipsed more than 56 wins. The team sat at the bottom of the NL Central year after year, before their eventual move to the AL West.
The Astros losing efforts played a pivotal role in their rebuilding process. Year after year, due to poor performance, the Astros sat at the top of the MLB draft. Here, the Astros front office capitalized, drafting the likes of OF George Springer in 2011, followed by SS Carlos Correa in 2012. These two would prove to be vital cornerstones for the organization in the years to come.
The Astros needed to solidify their coach for the future. They did so in 2014 by hiring AJ Hinch, the former Vice President of Scouting for the Padres from 2010-2014. Hinch was a huge voice in the selection of Alex Bregman from LSU. Bregman, teaming up with Correa and second baseman Jose Altuve on the infield, provided the team one of the best infields in all of baseball.
From Rags to Riches
The 2015 season provided a much-needed spark for the franchise. After finishing the regular season at 86-76, the Astros made the playoffs for the first time since 2005. The ten-year playoff drought celebration ended quickly, as they lost in the ALDS, suffering an early exit from post-season play.
However, it was all up from there.
From 2017-19, the Houston Astros were considered one of the best, if not the best team in all of baseball. In each of those three seasons, the Astros won over 100 games and secured the throne in the AL West.
In 2017, the Astros bolstered their pitching rotation by adding 2x AL Cy Young Award Winner Justin Verlander from the Detroit Tigers. Verlander helped lead the Astros in the ALCS against the New York Yankees, winning the ALCS MVP following the series and a berth to the World Series. The Astros went on to win their first World Series title, with a 4-3 series win over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
During that season Jose Altuve bloomed into a star. His 5'6 stature made him an icon, as he collected over 200 hits in the 2017 season and was named AL MVP after leading the majors with a .346 batting average. The World Series was influential for the city, amidst the tragedy of Hurricane Harvey that devastated the Houston area.
In 2018, the Astros quest to win back to back World Series titles was stopped short in the ALCS by the Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox eventually went on to win the World Series title.
Fast forward to 2019 and the Houston Astros found themselves in the World Series once again, for the second time in three seasons. However, the Washington Nationals prevailed over the club in seven games, denying the Astros of their second World Series title.
The Scandal that Rocked Baseball
Houston's image took a major hit as the team was involved in a sign-stealing scandal that shook all of Major League Baseball. On November 12, 2019, Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich wrote an article in The Athletic chronicling allegations that the Astros had used cameras to engage in potentially illicit sign-stealing against opponents, relying on allegations from former Astros pitcher Mike Fiers as a public source and other allegations from unnamed sources.
On January 13, 2020, MLB announced that its investigation found that the Astros did use cameras and video monitors to steal signs of opposing catchers and signal to hitters throughout the 2017 regular season and postseason, and at least part of the 2018 season. However, the league could not confirm whether or not the team engaged in illegal behaviors in their 2019 pennant race.
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred announced that manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow were suspended for one year, and the team would ultimately be stripped of the first-round draft picks the next two seasons. Shortly after, Astros owner Jim Crane announced he had terminated both Hinch and Luhnow.
On January 29, 2020, the Astros announced they hired Dusty Baker as their new manager to replace Hinch. The Astros talented roster has been shunned by the baseball sphere, as they attempt to leave the past in the past in order to create a clean slate for the future. Their players have also been beaned (seemingly on purpose) several times so far this season.