Pennant winners lead Astros in Dream Bracket 2

May 20th, 2020

HOUSTON -- Can the 2019 Astros, who were eight outs away from winning their second World Series in three years, overcome the 1991 Twins, who won their second title in five seasons? Can the 2005 Astros, who were swept in four close games by the White Sox in the Fall Classic, leave their mark against the 1954 Indians?

Major League Baseball’s Dream Bracket is back for another simulated competition. In MLB Dream Bracket 2: Dream Seasons, the two greatest single-season clubs in each franchise’s history along with three Negro Leagues teams and the 1994 Montreal Expos will assemble a 64-team tournament that begins Thursday and runs through early June. Like the first go-around, each round of this tournament will feature best-of-seven series as simulated by Out of the Park Baseball 21, MLB‘s most realistic strategy game (PC and Mac).

Fans can make their picks in the MLB Dream Bracket 2: Dream Seasons Challenge and compete to win an MLB prize pack featuring a $500 Fanatics gift card and more. Game simulations will begin with 16 round-of-64 matchups being played on Thursday, followed by the remaining 16 round-of-64 matchups on Friday. The finals, which will feature the top teams from the American League and National League squaring off, will take place on Monday, June 8, and Tuesday, June 9.

Here’s a look at the two legendary Astros teams that will be participating:

2005 Astros
Record: 89-73
Finish: Second in NL Central, lost World Series
Top bWAR getter: Roger Clemens (8.2)

A loaded club that included Hall of Famers and , as well as stars in , , and , overcame a 15-30 start to reach the World Series. The Astros posted the best record in baseball from June 1 until the end of the season (70-41) and became the first team since the 1914 Boston Braves to make the postseason after falling 15 games under .500.

The Astros clinched the NLDS by beating the Braves in four games, winning it on a walk-off homer by Chris Burke in the 18th inning of the clincher. They dispatched the St. Louis Cardinals in six games in the NLCS to advance to the World Series for the first time in their history. The White Sox swept Houston in the Fall Classic despite outscoring them by just six runs in the series.

Who they will face: The 1954 Indians, who advanced to their third World Series after going 111-43 in the regular season -- a record for highest winning percentage in AL history (.721) -- before being swept in the World Series by the New York Giants. The Indians were led by Larry Doby, Bobby Avila and Al Rosen on offense and 23-game winners Early Wynn and Bob Lemon in the rotation. A 35-year-old Bob Feller won 13 games that year, too.

2019 Astros
Record: 107-55
Finish: Won AL West, lost World Series
Top bWAR getter: Alex Bregman (9.1)

The Astros roared to a club-record 107 wins -- their third consecutive years of winning at least 100 games -- and won the AL West title for the third year in a row. Houston beat the Rays in the NLDS and got a walk-off homer from in Game 6 to eliminate the Yankees in the ALCS before losing in seven games in the World Series to the Nationals.

won his second AL Cy Young Award by going 21-6 with a 2.58 ERA, edging out teammate (20-5, 2.50 ERA), who finished the season a win in his last 16 decisions and led the Majors with 326 strikeouts. Slugger made his debut in June and won the AL Rookie of the Year. hit .296 with 41 homers, 119 walks and 112 RBIs to finish a close second to Mike Trout in the AL MVP race.

Who they will face: The 1991 Twins, who beat the Braves in a memorable World Series to win their first championship since '87. Led by Kirby Puckett, Chili Davis, Kent Hrbek and Shane Mack, Minnesota went from worst to first in the AL West and beat the Braves in seven games in the Fall Classic. The Twins won Game 7, 1-0, at home in the 10th inning on a walk-off hit from Gene Larkin. Hall of Famer Jack Morris threw 10 scoreless innings and was named World Series MVP.