This week the Houston Astros are playing in their fifth consecutive American League Championship Series. Just as they did in 2018 the Astros face the Boston Red Sox. Game five of the series is scheduled to be played this afternoon at 4 p.m.
All of the Astros’ previous trips to the ALCS in the last four years have come against opponents from the AL East. In 2017 and 2019 the Astros took down the New York Yankees. Last season the Astros lost to the Tampa Bay Rays in seven games after falling short in their attempt to become the second team ever to win a best-of-seven series after being down three games to none.
This five-year run by the Astros has put them in rarified air in terms of baseball history. Since the first league championship series were played in 1969, only three teams have made five straight trips. The Oakland Athletics were the first to do it as they made five straight ALCS from 1971-1975. The Atlanta Braves hold the longest streak as they made every NLCS played between 1991-1999. There was no postseason in 1994 because of the players strike. In 1997 and 1999, the Braves had to get past the Astros to keep their streak going.
This five year postseason run by the Astros has also vaulted the Astros to the top of the heap among the 14 expansion teams that have entered the Major Leagues since 1961.
This season is the Astros’ 15th trip to the postseason. That is five more appearances than the second place expansion team, the Los Angeles Angels. Houston’s 15 trips to the postseason put them in a tie for 13th place among all 30 MLB teams. The Astros are tied with Cleveland in 13th and rank ahead of three teams—Philadelphia, Baltimore (including five decades as the St. Louis Browns) and the Chicago White Sox—who all had at least a 60-year head start on the Astros.
Houston knocked off the White Sox in four games in the American League Division Series. It was the Astros’ 13th trip to a league division series (most among the expansion teams) and their seventh win in a league division series. In addition to the most wins among the 14 expansion teams in a league division series, the Astros have the most losses with six. While they were in the National League the Astros went 2-5 in the NLDS. Since being dropped into the American League in 2013 the Astros have gone 5-1 in the ALDS. The Astros 13 trips to the league division series put them sixth all-time when the original 16 teams are included.
Including this year, the Astros are playing in their ninth league championship series. They went 1-3 in four trips to the National League Championship Series (1980, 1986, 2004 and 2005) and have gone 2-2 in their first four trips to the ALCS. Those nine trips to the LCS by the Astros are the most by an expansion team and eighth-most when the original 16 teams are included.
This 2021 trip to the LCS allowed the Astros to break a three-way tie atop the expansion team mountain with the New York Mets (their 1986 NLCS opponent) and the Kansas City Royals (who Houston played in the 2015 AL Division Series).
Houston’s five losses in league championship series are tied for the most with the Angels and Toronto Blue Jays. If Houston can claim its fourth pennant against Boston it will move the Astros into a tie for second among the expansion teams with Kansas City.
When it comes to playing the Astros in the playoffs, it has often ended up well for the opponents. Of the Astros’ previous 14 trips to the playoffs, Houston has lost to 13 teams. Seven of those 13 have gone on to win the World Series. (including obviously the two time Houston has lost in the World Series in 2005 and 2019).
Here’s hoping the Astros’ 15th postseason ends with them raising their fourth league pennant and second world series trophy.