On Sunday, the Astros wrapped up a 10-game road trip.
They won all 10.
When you count the win in the final game of their last home stand, that's 11 straight. By Monday night they took that even further and tied their franchise best streak of 12. They also set a record for best road trip in franchise history going 10-0.
Coming home 48-25, the Astros were only one game off the pace set by the 2017 team and looking as dominant as ever. It's difficult to compare the 2017 team versus 2018 until we reach the postseason, but it is fairly clear the starting pitching is substantially better this season while the bullpen is not quite as good (despite an ERA that ranks 4th in baseball). Offensively, they remain an extremely dangerous team, especially away from Minute Maid Park, helping to make them the best road team in baseball at 29-11.
But, how do they stack up all-time in Houston sports history? Frankly, when it comes to dominance, there is really only one comparison: the 1993-94 and 1994-95 Houston Rockets, the only teams to win titles in major Houston sports prior to the Astrs. It all begins and ends there, but there are interesting similarities between the 2017-18 Astros and those Rockets teams.
Roads to the Title
In the Rockets second title run, they had to beat two teams with 60 wins and two with 57 or better. They did it from the sixth seed, something we will probably never see again. The Astros, while holding home field advantage much of the way, beat three of the most storied franchises ever in the Red Sox, Yankees and Dodgers on the way to their championship.
All-Time Greats as MVP
The Astros had their MVP in Jose Altuve, a hitting machine who seems destined for enshrinement in Cooperstown. The Rockets had one of the greatest centers to ever take the floor in Hakeem Olajuwon, who is in the Hall of Fame.
Managers Understanding Analytics
LONG before anyone had heard of such a thing as Sabermetrics, Rudy Tomjanovich was playing probabilities with his team, practically inventing the "stretch four," using Robert Horry as a power forward, and bombing away from distance. AJ Hinch has embraced data analytics as much as any manager in baseball employing the shift liberally.
Teams of Characters
Both teams had a mix of young, old, intense and mellow players. And both teams clearly enjoyed playing with one another. Their team chemistry was special in both situations.
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Both teams had to win a game seven in their respective title series, the Rockets at home and the Astros on the road, to clinch their first ever championships. The Rockets followed that up with a sweep in the Finals the next season. We'll see if the Astros can match that this year.
This isn't about how many championships were won. This is about the manner in which the teams dominated their respective sports. The Astros were frontrunners all of 2017 and seem poised to be there again this year. They ran away with their division and no one doubted their merits as a title contender. The Rockets roared out to a 15-0 start in 1993, but they struggled at times and were downright bad at times in 1994.
At the moment, the Rockets remain the most successful two-year squad in city history simply because they won two titles. But, the Astros are the most dominant. Hopefully, this Astros season ends the same way the Rockets second year did, with another victory parade. Then, they will be both best and most dominant ever.