Carried by the best offense in baseball and an exciting pitching staff, the Astros have had a tremendous season. They built a huge lead in the American League West in the opening months before cruising to one of the best records in the AL down the stretch. The Astros have rebuilt themselves into a true World Series contender.
Houston's first challenge will come in the Division Series against the Red Sox, which starts Thursday at 4 p.m. ET/3 p.m. CT on FS1 or MLB Network. Before it begins, though, let's take a look back at how the Astros got here.
Jose Altuve took his game to a whole new level this season, making the leap from "Little Guy Who Can Really Hit" to "Little Guy Who Might Be The American League's Most Valuable Player." That's a considerable leap.
It's not really that complicated: He's a 5-foot-6 second baseman who slugged well over .500, stole 30-plus bases and never stops smiling. What's not to love?
The Unsung Hero
Only two position players from the 2013 team that lost 111 games will suit up for the Astros this October: the aforementioned Altuve and switch-hitting utility maestro Marwin Gonzalez. We loved watching Gonzalez all season long, but it's been especially fun seeing him transform into a truly impactful player for a Houston team already riddled with star hitters.
Gonzalez had the third-highest OPS among all switch-hitters, behind only Jose Ramirez and Justin Smoak, and started at least 10 games at all four infield positions and left field.
The Coolest Moment
Rumors had swirled around the Astros organization all summer long about their interest in acquiring another frontline starter to pair with Dallas Keuchel, but when the July 31st non-waiver Trade Deadline passed, all was quiet on the Houston front. A few weeks later, however, general manager Jeff Luhnow decided to reignite the Hot Stove for one of the biggest post-Deadline deals in recent memory, acquiring Justin Verlander from the Tigers in exchange for three prospects.
The Weirdest Moment
What's going on here? A fake memorial service for Beltran's glove. He hasn't played OF in quite some time. pic.twitter.com/HDjxwOBsgT- Brian McTaggart (@brianmctaggart) July 17, 2017
Having spent most of the year in the DH spot, the Astros decided to hold a funeral service for 40-year-old veteran Carlos Beltran's glove. As funny as it was, it may have been slightly premature, as Beltran made a nice running grab in left field just a few days later.
It's one thing to hit a home run to that part of Target Field when you're Yoenis Cespedes defending your T-Mobile Home Run Derby crown. It's another thing to do it in an actual game.
It's been a fun season for the 'Stros so far, but can they make a deep run this October? Check out the video at the top of the post to hear how far we think Houston can go this postseason.