A lot can change in five years.Just look at the two teams who will clash tonight in Los Angeles, in Game 1 of the World Series presented by YouTube TV. The National League champion Dodgers and American League champion Astros, meeting in the first Fall Classic between two 100-game winners
A lot can change in five years.
Just look at the two teams who will clash tonight in Los Angeles, in Game 1 of the World Series presented by YouTube TV. The National League champion Dodgers and American League champion Astros, meeting in the first Fall Classic between two 100-game winners since 1970, both have turned dominant regular seasons into impressive postseason runs.
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Now flash back -- not too far -- to May 27, 2012. It was a Sunday afternoon in L.A., and the Dodgers were hosting the Astros in the rubber game of a three-game series.
The home team won, 5-1, and the two clubs would not meet again at Dodger Stadium again until now.
The Dodgers, at the time an MLB-best 32-15, went 54-61 thereafter and missed the playoffs -- something they have not done since. The franchise had just been officially sold at the beginning of the month, and the new regime would go on to turn over the front office after the '14 season and the managerial post after the '15 season -- all during a run of five straight division titles and four disappointing postseason exits.
The Astros traveled a rockier road. A respectable 22-25 after that May 27 loss, they finished last in the then-six-team NL Central, at an MLB-worst 55-107, dismissing manager Brad Mills along the way. As general manager Jeff Luhnow -- who had taken over the previous offseason -- executed a full rebuild, Houston changed leagues, went through another full-time manager switch and improved quickly after bottoming out at 51-111 in '13.
As these two franchises get ready to battle it out for a World Series championship, here is a position-by-position look at how far they have come since their last meeting at Chavez Ravine. This should also serve as a good reminder to fans of rebuilding clubs that a lot can change in a few years.
Astros then -- Chris Snyder: The veteran backup was filling in for 24-year-old starter Jason Castro, who was in the first of five straight seasons as Houston's primary catcher.
Astros now -- Brian McCann: Castro left as a free agent after last season, and Houston replaced him by trading with the Yankees for McCann, who was squeezed out in New York by the arrival of Gary Sanchez.
Dodgers then -- Matt Treanor: This was one of 33 games Treanor started in his final MLB season, as first-year starter A.J. Ellis posted a .373 OBP in 133 games.
Dodgers now -- Austin Barnes/Yasmani Grandal: In his first offseason with L.A. in December 2014, president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman acquired Barnes and Grandal in separate trades that involved sending Dee Gordon to Miami and Matt Kemp to San Diego. Grandal has been the starter since, though Barnes has been behind the plate for six of the eight playoff games.
Astros then -- Carlos Lee: In the final year of an extravagant six-year free-agent contact, the 36-year-old was traded to the Marlins in early July.
Astros now -- Yuli Gurriel: A longtime star in Cuba, Gurriel defected and signed as a free agent with Houston last July, making his Major League debut in late August.
Dodgers then -- Scott Van Slyke: The rookie was filling in for James Loney, whose seven-season run with the Dodgers came to an end when on Aug. 25 he was sent to Boston as part of the massive deal that landed L.A. first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, outfielder Carl Crawford, starter Josh Beckett and infielder Nick Punto.
Dodgers now -- Cody Bellinger: Drafted in the fourth round the following summer, the sweet-swinging lefty took MLB by storm upon his April 25 debut, slamming 39 homers in 132 games while playing both first and the outfield.
Astros then -- Jose Altuve: After a nondescript debut the year before as a 21-year-old -- he batted .276/.297/.357 in 57 games -- Altuve became an All-Star in 2012, starting 142 games and batting .290 with 33 steals.
Astros now -- Altuve: Even a highly optimistic projection in '12 would have been hard-pressed to foresee what Altuve has become -- a three-time AL batting champion, a candidate for the AL Most Valuable Player Award and the heart and soul of a pennant-winning club.
Dodgers then -- Elian Herrera: The rookie utilityman got the start in place of veteran Mark Ellis, who batted .264/.328/.357 as the team's No. 1 second baseman from 2012-13.
Dodgers now -- John Forsythe/Chase Utley: L.A. re-signed the veteran Utley late last offseason, after trading pitching prospect Jose De Leon to Tampa Bay for Forsythe, who has followed up a disappointing regular season with a strong postseason (.316/.458/.368).
Astros then -- Chris Johnson: An Astros fourth-round pick in 2006, Johnson was dealt to Atlanta prior to the 2012 non-waiver Trade Deadline.
Astros now -- Alex Bregman: With Carlos Correa already installed at his natural position of shortstop, Bregman became a quick solution to Houston's hot corner issues after being taken second overall out of LSU in the 2015 Draft.
Dodgers then -- Jerry Hairston: Playing for the last of his nine teams in the second-to-last of his 16 MLB seasons, Hairston was one of five players who started at least 14 games at third for L.A. that year.
Dodgers now -- Justin Turner: A resurgent Juan Uribe took back the job for the next couple of seasons before giving way to current All-Star Turner -- an afterthought when he signed a Minor League deal in February 2014 after he was non-tendered by the Mets.
Astros then -- Jed Lowrie: Acquired from Boston the previous December, Lowrie has since been traded to Oakland -- in a deal that landed Houston pitcher Brad Peacock -- re-signed by Houston and traded to Oakland again, in November 2015.
Astros now -- Correa: Roughly a week after this game, the Astros spent the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 Draft on a talented shortstop out of Puerto Rico. The choice has worked out.
Dodgers then -- Gordon: After batting .229 from 2012-13, Gordon shifted to second base and bounced back in '14 before going to Miami in a seven-player deal that landed the Dodgers Barnes and Enrique Hernandez, among others.
Dodgers now -- Corey Seager: Seventeen picks after Houston took Correa, L.A. selected Seager out of a North Carolina high school. He reached the Majors in September 2015 and immediately established himself as a star. He is still only 23.
Astros then -- J.D. Martinez: Even smart, ascendant teams make mistakes, and Martinez was one of those for Houston. After batting .251/.300/.387 from 2011-13, he was released the following spring, signed with Detroit and has a .936 OPS since.
Astros now -- Marwin Gonzalez: Two months into his big league career in May 2012, Gonzalez has played everything except pitcher and catcher since and broke out at the plate by posting a .907 OPS this season.
Dodgers then -- Jerry Sands: After debuting in 2011, Sands played just nine MLB games in '12 and was one of nine Dodgers to start in left, with Shane Victorino (48) leading the way after a July 31 trade from Philadelphia.
Dodgers now -- Hernandez, et al.: This position was even more of a revolving door in '17, with 12 players starting at least once. Hernandez, Andre Ethier, Joc Pederson and Curtis Granderson all have taken turns in the postseason, but Hernandez put his stamp on things with a historic three-homer, seven-RBI performance in Game 5 of the NLCS.
Astros then -- Justin Maxwell: After sharing time at the position with Jordan Schafer in 2012, Maxwell was traded to Kansas City the next year and last appeared in the Majors in '15.
Astros now -- George Springer: Selected 11th overall the previous summer, Springer rose from Class A Advanced Lancaster in May 2012 to the Majors by April '14. After playing mostly right field his first three seasons, Springer has spent the majority of his time in center in '17.
Dodgers then -- Tony Gwynn Jr.: Kemp, the NL MVP runner-up in 2011, signed a massive contract extension that winter and got off to a huge start in '12. But he got hurt on May 13 -- returning one day after the Astros left town -- and never again reached those same heights with L.A. He was traded to San Diego in the Grandal deal.
Dodgers now -- Chris Taylor: After Taylor showed little with the bat in parts of three seasons with the Mariners, the Dodgers plucked him in exchange for pitcher Zach Lee in a low-profile swap last June. A natural shortstop, he played more outfield this year while breaking out with a .288/.354/.496 line.
Astros then -- Matt Downs: He served in a utility role for Houston in 2011-12 and hasn't played in the Majors since. Houston's primary right fielder was Brian Bogusevic, who was traded away after posting a .596 OPS.
Astros now -- Josh Reddick: Traded from the A's to the Dodgers at last year's non-waiver Deadline, Reddick signed a four-year free-agent deal with Houston in the offseason.
Dodgers then -- Ethier: A mainstay in the Dodgers' lineup from 2006-15, Ethier has appeared in a total of 38 regular-season games since while battling injuries, but he returned to play a role in both the '16-17 postseasons.
Dodgers now -- Yasiel Puig: Roughly a month after the Astros' last game at Dodger Stadium, L.A. signed Puig, then a 21-year-old who had gone through a harrowing ordeal defecting from Cuba. It's been a wild ride since the Wild Horse debuted in June 2013, but this season has been a productive one.
Astros then -- J.A. Happ: Less than two months after the L.A. series, Houston sent Happ -- originally acquired from the Phillies in the Roy Oswalt deal -- to Toronto in a 10-player trade that netted the Astros pitcher Joe Musgrove.
Astros now -- Dallas Keuchel: The lefty made his MLB debut soon after the L.A. series, on June 17, 2012, but it wasn't until '14 that he emerged as a star, with a 2.93 ERA.
Dodgers then -- Chris Capuano: Capuano tied Clayton Kershaw for the team lead with 33 starts for a 2012 rotation that also featured Aaron Harang and Chad Billingsley.
Dodgers now -- Kershaw: Like Ethier, Kershaw is a tie between the Dodgers of past and present, so it's appropriate that he will be on the mound when the team plays its first World Series game since Kershaw was seven months old.
Andrew Simon is a research analyst for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB.