The Astros beat the Dodgers 5-1 in Game 7 of the World Series on Wednesday night to claim the first MLB championship in Houston’s history. The victory is fantastic for a city that just got walloped by Hurricane Harvey.
Less importantly but fascinating nonetheless is that four seasons ago, Sports Illustrated predicted a World Series title for the Astros in 2017.
Here’s the cover of SI’s June 30, 2014 issue, which features center fielder George Springer – you know, the guy who hit five home runs in the seven-game series against the Dodgers and was named World Series MVP.
Called it… 😉 pic.twitter.com/GK8VZDmPR2
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) November 2, 2017
When Ben Reiter wrote the piece, the Astros were coming off their third-straight 100-loss season and were laughing stock of baseball. They improved in that 2014 season, modestly, to a 70-92 record, good for fourth place in the AL West.
Reiter told the story of how general manager Jeff Luhnow – who Astros owner Jim Crane hired away from the St. Louis Cardinals in December 2011 – assembled a team of mathematically-inclined decision makers – a Harvard graduate, a Yale graduate and a former blackjack dealer among them – to put together the team.
“The Astros’ decisions since the end of 2011 seem to have genuine promise,” Reiter wrote in June 2014.
The team’s minor league system went from one of the worst in baseball to one of the best, and Luhnow and Co. were stacking the major league club with guys like Springer and left-handed pitcher Dallas Keuchel.
Fast forward to this November, and those pieces are part of the core of the World Series champions.
What a job by Ben Reiter!
Now, of course, people are clamoring for copies of the June 30, 2014 Sports Illustrated. According to ESPN.com, copies of the magazine have sold on eBay this week for as much as $1,025 each, with an average price of $280.
If his prediction back in 2014 gives you faith in Reiter, he’s predicting an Astros repeat in 2018, a bet that’s available in Las Vegas for 6-to-1 odds.
— Ben Reiter (@BenReiter) November 2, 2017