Steve Reacts: The 2022 World Series

11 days ago, I predicted that the Houston Astros would win the 2022 World Series in six games, as I felt that A) The Philadelphia Phillies would be a worthy opponent for them and B) The American League champion was a more complete team than the National League champion. And sure enough, the Series played out exactly how I thought it would, along with the facts that I got both the World Series winner and length of the Series correct.

Of course, I wasn’t correct in predicting who would the World Series MVP, as my prediction was Justin Verlander, who hurt his chances of winning that award via him blowing that 5-0 lead in Game 1 of this Series. But he redeemed himself four games later, as he allowed one run and struck out six in the required five innings to get his first ever World Series victory as a starting pitcher. And while Verlander was one of the main storylines before, during and after that Game 5 victory, he wasn’t the only one who had heroics in that game because in addition to him, other Astro players had their moments in that game, whether via timely hitting (Yordan Alvarez’s RBI groundout being the difference in the Astros’ Game 5 victory), gutsy pitching (Ryan Pressly getting a five-out save)  or clutch defense (Trey Mancini robbing a Kyle Schwarber of a potential game-winning base hit, Chas McCormick robbing J.T. Realmuto of an extra-base hit). So any way that you look at it, the Astros proved that that game, as well as the entire Series, was a team game across the board.

Sure, the Astros weren’t as robust offensively as they were in past seasons. But their hitting during this postseason was timely and they played complimentary baseball, as the timely hitting was justified by great fielding and great pitching. 

The 2022 Astros weren’t the best team record-wise (the Los Angeles Dodgers were) in Major League Baseball this past regular season. But they were the most well-rounded team this past regular season and it showed throughout the postseason, as they relied on their two-pronged pre-analytics formula of starting pitchers going deep into games to keep their flame-throwing bullpen fresh and keeping the game close, so guys such as Alvarez could deliver momentum-changing hits, such as that 450-foot blast to centerfield in Game 6. What an awesome homerun!

The Astros’ team effort was so impressive that I forgot to give other guys their props, such as Framber Valdez being a completely different pitcher in this Series than he was last year at this time against the Atlanta Braves. And given how well that he pitched overall this season, I’m totally happy for the guy. And he wasn’t the only pitcher who redeemed himself in this Series because in addition to him, Christian Javier did as well via being the catalyst of a combined no hitter that he had with Pressley, Bryan Abreu and Rafael Montero in the Astros’ pivotal Game 4 victory. Total redemption for the reliever turned starter after giving up back-to-back home runs in Game 4 of last year’s Series.

Oh yes, and how can I forget what rookie shortstop Jeremy Pena did, as he delivered big hit after big hit, whether it was moving Jose Altuve along the base path to set up that 450-foot blast, or hitting a home run that either had his team retake the lead or ultimately win the game, with such instances happening in all three of the Astros’ postseason series. Guys such as Alvarzez, Pressly, Valdez and Javier all made excellent cases for World Series MVP, but it’s hard to argue against a .400 batting average in this Series, as that was what Pena hit, so the people who awarded him World Series MVP totally got it right.

Oh yes, and how can I forget about Dusty Baker, a man of many superlatives, such as players coach, successful manager no matter where he goes and awesome human being. He’s such a successful manager that he has led all five franchises that he’s managed to the postseason during a 25-year career, with one of those franchises being my Chicago Cubs. And although I want the Cubs to win it all every year, I also want players and/or coaches who have never won a championship to finally win one for not only their impressive careers, but also for being terrific people. And with that all being said, Dusty Baker checks both of those boxes, therefore him being someone that I have always rooted for in getting his elusive World Series championship as a manager, regardless of which franchise that he managed. And that elusiveness is now a thing of the past, as Dusty Baker captured his first World Series championship as a manager on November 5, 2022 to complete the last thing that was missing on his otherwise Cooperstown-bound resume. The 2,093 regular season wins as a manager, 12 postseason appearances, nine division titles, five LCS berths, three pennants and three National League Manager Of The Year awards will never have any capacity of incompleteness ever again.

The 2022 Major League Baseball season was a storybook season for the Astros, as they redeemed themselves from the sign-stealing scandal that brought forth cynicism about all that they had accomplished during the A.J. Hinch era. Plus, it was of course a storybook season for Dusty Baker, due to the accolade that had always eluded him.

Congratulations to Dusty Baker and his Astros for winning a World Series championship that will go down as one of the most unforgettable ones in all of baseball history!