Jake Ruderman ’26
The Houston Astros have won the 2022 World Series! Houston outlasted the plucky Phillies in a hard fought series, securing their second ring in the last five seasons, while losing only two games the entire postseason. Let’s take a look back at their playoff run and how they made it happen.
After handily winning the AL West by a ridiculous 16 games, the Astros entered the playoffs as the AL’s #1 seed, which granted them a first-round bye. Their first opponent was a frisky Seattle Mariners team that had coalesced since acquiring pitcher Luis Castillo at the trade deadline. The series was a rollercoaster of exorbitant offensive performances juxtaposed with hitting droughts, as the Astros took Games 1 and 2 easily, and outlasted Seattle in Game 3, 1-0, winning on the back of rookie shortstop Jeremey Peña’s go-ahead home run in the 18th inning. The Astros advanced to play the New York Yankees, and were primed for another fantastic showdown between the class of the American League, with the two clubs set to battle it out for the fourth time in the last eight postseasons. But as per usual, the Astros had no trouble demolishing the Yankees, sweeping them in embarrassing fashion.
After earning their fourth World Series appearance in the last six seasons, everything was clicking for Houston; through two rounds, they were a ridiculous 7-0 in the playoffs. All signs indicated that nothing could get in the Astros’ way; not the dominant 111-win Dodgers, the 101-win Braves, or even the 101-win Mets. But out of the loaded National League, the Astros advanced to face.. the Phillies?! The NL’s lowest seeded 87-win Phillies shocked the world and made it all the way to the World Series. Through stellar pitching, a torrent offense, and an all-time playoff performance from superstar Bryce Harper, the Phillies had upset their way to the Fall Classic and set their sights on bringing a ring back to Philly.
Game 1 saw the Phillies pull off an incredible rally coming back from being down 5-0, culminating with catcher J.T. Realmuto’s go-ahead home run in the 10th inning, as they handed the Astros their first loss of the playoffs. In Game 2, the Astros bounced back behind a strong start from Framber Valdez and early offensive success off of Phillies’ star pitcher Zack Wheeler. Game 3 shifted the series to Philadelphia, where 45,000 crazed Philly fans eagerly awaited their return to the World Series for the first time since 2009. The Phillies delivered, capitalizing on their raucous home environment and smacking the Astros around 7-0. But yet again, the Astros turned the tides in a massive way, throwing a combined no-hitter in Game 4 – a feat unheard of in October. Game 5 saw a narrow Astros win, as their hot bats took advantage of a Philadelphia ‘bullpen game’, while Hall of Fame pitcher Justin Verlander earned his first career World Series win. With the Astros up 3-2, the series returned to Houston where the Astros took care of business in a 4-1 Game 6 win, fueled by another stellar outing from pitcher Framber Valdez and a 3-run moonshot courtesy of Yordan Alvarez. Rookie phenom Jeremey Peña was named World Series MVP, becoming the first-ever rookie position player to do so, slashing .345/.367/.638 with a 1.005 OPS.
For the Astros as a whole, this championship was incredibly important, as they proved they could win without a major cheating scandal. As for individuals, Astros manager and future Hall of Famer Dusty Baker finally won his first ring as a manager. After managing more than 2,000 regular season wins, 3 pennants, and 9 division-winning teams, Dusty broke through at long-last, cementing himself as one of the greatest managers of all time. You simply can’t ask for a better rookie season than Jeremy Peña had, as he became the first-ever rookie shortstop to win a Gold Glove, and then won both the ALCS and World Series MVP honors. As for the Phillies, manager Rob Thomson earned his stripes, guiding the club to their improbable World Series berth despite taking over the job halfway through the year. But it’s Phillies superstar Bryce Harper who benefited the most from this run, silencing the noise and cementing himself as one of the leagues’ best players. The hype around Harper as a prospect has led to mixed sentiments about his game, but this performance quieted any remaining doubts; Harper carried this Philly team time and time again, slashing a ridiculous .349/.414/.746 to the tune of a 1.160 OPS, with 6 home runs and 13 RBI in only 17 games.
Will the Phillies be able to come back stronger next year? Will the Astros continue their reign of dominance? Or will neither club make it back to baseball’s biggest stage? We’ll have to wait and find out. Until next time, baseball; see you again soon.
Image courtesy of Houston Astros’ Twitter
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