The Astros on Saturday advanced to the second World Series in franchise history, a "return to prominence" after the club's "drastic teardown and long term rebuild," according to Jake Kaplan of the HOUSTON CHRONICLE. The Astros' 4-0 win over the Yankees in ALCS Game 7 "served as validation" for the club's "dark years" from '11-14. It also "lifted up" a city in Houston that will "long be recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Harvey" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 10/22). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Brian Costa wrote winning the AL pennant "validated" the Astros' plan. Team Owner Jim Crane said, "It’s been a long ride. I’ve sat in this ballpark when there were 6,000 people here. It was rocking tonight." Costa noted the turnaround under GM Jeff Luhnow has been "gradual." Luhnow: "It’s a validation for all the work that we put in and the strategy that we decided to employ. We stayed the course, and here we are" (WSJ.com, 10/22). In Houston, Brian Smith noted Crane and Luhnow six seasons ago started "taking a wrecking ball" to the club, "purposefully deconstructing and rebuilding everything in sight." The Astros in '13 lost a franchise-record 111 games and were "officially the worst club in team history." Then the "pipeline began pumping out prime talent and the young names started arriving." Manager A.J. Hinch took control in '14, while the arrivals of CF George Springer and SS Carlos Correa "marked the start of a shining new era" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 10/22). FS1's Alex Rodriguez said Crane has done a "phenomenal job" taking a team that won 55 games in '12 to 101 wins this season and a berth in the World Series. FS1's David Ortiz said, "The job that this owner and the front office have put together the past six, seven years -- for the ball club to be where it is at right now -- is unreal" ("MLB on FS1 Postgame," FS1, 10/21).
JUSTIN TIME: In Houston, Jenny Dial Creech wrote the Astros "did exactly what they were built to do." They "toughed through the 100-loss seasons" and "developed talent" like Correa, Springer and 2B Jose Altuve. When they had "something good going, they added the right pieces." Luhnow "acquired veteran leadership to put in the clubhouse." In August, the Astros "made the trade of the season" by acquiring P Justin Verlander from the Tigers (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 10/22). USA TODAY's Jorge Ortiz wrote the Astros "likely wouldn’t be in" the position they are in if Luhnow had not "relented on his penchant for retaining prized prospects, controllable assets who play for low salaries in their early years, and exchanged three of them" for Verlander (USA TODAY, 10/23).