In 2015, Houston Astros were ahead of schedule. A injection of uber-talented rookies, award-winning player, and sprinkle of pixie dust from Jeff Luhnow put the Astros in the playoff for the first time since 2005.
The Astros showed they belonged in the one-game Wild Card Playoff with the New York Yankees. Dallas Keuchel shutdown the Bronx Bombers for six innings and home runs from Colby Rasmus and Carlos Gomez were enough.
Houston even jumped out to an early series lead against the Kansas City Royals in the American League Division Series. But the Royals were a rebuilt franchise that was a few years ahead of the Astros in experience with a few key veteran additions. In the end, the Royals pulled out the series.
It was the pain of that loss that has helped fuel the Astros during this playoff run for the players that were on the roster in 2015: Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, George Springer, Marwin Gonzalez, and Keuchel.
Previous experiences help but Astros general manager helped things along as well with a few veteran pieces to fill out the roster that came up big in game 4 of the 2017 ALDS alone.
Josh Reddick has hit over all the Astros lineup. He got the call for the No. 2 spot on Monday and made a key adjustment against Craig Kimbrel to put Houston up 4-3 last in the ballgame.
FS1 Broadcasters: "Kimbrel is unhittable."— Tuve's Tongue (@TuvesTongue) October 9, 2017
Josh Reddick: "Hold my smokes." pic.twitter.com/mWhPmufvs5
Carlos Beltran, who has batting .325 in playoff career, got the all important insurance run in the ninth.
Justin Verlander, while he did give up the home run to allowed Boston back into the game, is the stopper the Astros needed in any role.
Could the 2017 Astros made it without Reddick, Beltran, and Verlander? Probably. But it was these moves and the 2015 experience that has made the Astros the juggernaut they are heading into the ALCS.
This all said, Alex Bregman is the oddball that doesn’t fit into either category. He’s just a beast.