Five Astros who won a World Series at last after careers of near-misses
By winning Wednesday's Game 7 over the Dodgers, the Astros accomplished what no Astros team had before: Winning a World Series. In fact, none of the 25 players on the team's World Series roster had previously won a World Series ring in their careers.
But, some of those players had come closer to hoisting the Commissioner's Trophy than others. Let's take a look back at some of their near-misses that made winning the 2017 World Series that much sweeter.
2017 marked the 20th season of Beltran's Major League career and this postseason was his seventh. Despite a postseason career that includes 65 games played, 16 home runs, 42 RBIs and a .307/.412/.609 slash line -- making him one of the greatest postseason performers of all time -- he had, inexplicably, never won it all.
He came close in 2013 as a member of the Cardinals team that lost to the Red Sox in six games, but he joined the team in the 2011-12 offseason -- mere weeks after the Cardinals won the World Series. Moreover, he made his first postseason appearance back in 2004 when the Astros lost to the Cardinals in the NLCS.
With all that history both in the postseason and with the Astros, finally getting over the hump must have been extra special.
While his journey hasn't been as lengthy as Beltran's, 2017 was Liriano's fifth trip to the postseason. He came closest to a World Series in 2016 while pitching out of the Blue Jays' bullpen. Though he didn't appear in the ALCS for the Blue Jays, that was his only trip to an LCS in his 12-year career.
In 2017, he recorded a key out when he got Cody Bellinger to ground into a fielder's choice in the fifth inning to put a major dent in a potential Dodgers rally.
In five postseason appearances prior to 2017 -- with the Braves in 2005 and the Yankees in 2015 -- McCann's teams had been sent home by the Astros twice. Perhaps the closest he came to the World Series, though, was when his 2013 Braves lost to the Dodgers in the NLDS. With 96 regular-season wins, those Braves were one victory away from having the best record in baseball.
Having previously suffered postseason defeat at the hands of both the Astros and Dodgers, it's fitting that McCann won his first title in a Series between the two teams. It's even better that, as the catcher, he had the honor of being first to reach Charlie Morton to celebrate the win:
Reddick is no stranger to postseason heartbreak. In 2012, his A's lost to the Tigers in five games in the ALCS. In 2013, his A's did it again, this time losing to the Tigers in five games after holding a 2-1 lead in the series. In 2014, he was on the wrong side of that classic 12-inning Wild Card Game that the A's lost despite entering the eighth inning with a 7-3 lead over the Royals. Finally, in 2016, his Dodgers dropped a 2-1 series lead in the NLCS to the Cubs.
After losing to the Cubs in the 2016 NLCS as a member of the Dodgers, Reddick smartly made the move to the eventual 2017 champion Astros. It only takes one series to erase four years of postseason defeat.
Prior to 2017, Verlander had been to the postseason five times: Four trips to the ALCS and two to the World Series. In other words, a World Series ring has been in his grasp a lot.
This time around, he didn't leave anything to chance with a 2.21 ERA in 36 2/3 postseason innings while striking out 38 hitters against 8 walks. For his efforts, he also picked up an ALCS MVP Award along the way.
Now, after winning a World Series on his sixth trip to the postseason, everything seems to be coming together for Verlander. First, he earned that long sought-after World Series ring:
Next up, he'll spend the first weekend of the offseason getting married to Kate Upton:
The 2017 Astros -- from their rebuilding years to the trials and tribulations of their veterans -- proved that good things do indeed come to those who wait.