By Trey Lyle
Time for our last team on the Best Seasons series. This one goes to a team that has won both an American League and National League pennants since 2000. The Houston Astros, who won an NL pennant in 2005 and moved to the AL in 2013, didn’t take the team long to reach the mountain top for the first time in franchise history.
So, time to talk about 2017 Houston Astros, which is the best season in franchise history despite everything we know about that team.
Let’s begin with the elephant in the room when you mention this team: the sign-stealing scandal. Sign-stealing has always been a part of the game, but the team crossed the line when they used cameras, computers, electronics, and trash cans to steal signs to get an advantage. However, if you ask most Astros fans, they will say despite everything that the 2017 team is still their best season because of the championship they were able to win.
Now that that is out of the way, time to talk about objectively an excellent and very talented baseball team.
The Astros went 101-61 during the regular season, winning their first AL West title in franchise history and first division title since 2001 when the team was a part of the NL Central. In the postseason, the team defeated the Boston Red Sox in four games in the ALDS and the New York Yankees in seven games in the ALCS to advance to the World Series. In the World Series, the team went on to win their first title in franchise history, defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers in seven games.
The Astros' dynamic lineup led the league in runs scored (896), batting average (.282), on-base percentage (.346), and slugging percentage (.478). They were headlined by Jose Altuve, who was the AL batting champ hitting .346 during the season, which led to him winning AL MVP.
The most significant transaction the team made during the season was acquiring Justin Verlander at the trade deadline. With the Astros, Verlander went 5-0 with a 1.06 ERA. As a staff, the team had a 4.12 ERA and 1,593 strikeouts, which were both in the top 5 in the AL.
One of the most talented rich teams in the history of baseball built mainly through the Astros’ farm system, despite the cheating, keeps the 2017 team as the best season in franchise history.