HOUSTON, Texas(KLST/KSAN) — Playoff baseball is in full swing and there have already been some historical marks and memories made that Astros fans will cherish for a lifetime. After the Astros defeated the New York Yankees in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series on Wednesday night, you might be tempted to join in on watercooler talk about the team.

If you’re an avid supporter of the Astros it’s safe to say that you know what other fans are talking about. This article, however, is for those who may be new to the sport and looking for a team to root for. This article is for significant others who only cheer when their partner cheers and then questions their sanity when they get sad after a loss. This article is for the ones who don’t know the names Justin Verlander, Jose Altuve, or Yordan Alvarez.

Here’s the information you need to hop on the bandwagon and become a full-time Houston Astros fan.

The Stars

The American League West Champions have a star-studded team. With top to bottom shutdown pitchers to proven hitters, here are some names and stats of players you need to keep your eye on.

The Hitters

Houston Astros’ Kyle Tucker (30) celebrates with Alex Bregman (2) after both scored on Tucker’s three-run home run against the Philadelphia Phillies during the first inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
  • DH/LF Yordan Alvarez
    • A pitcher’s nightmare when he steps to the plate, the 2019 Rookie of the Year has been the Astros’ biggest bat since he took the league by storm. He was awarded an All-Star selection during the 2022 campaign and has been dominating in the playoffs, which we’ll get to soon enough.
      • 2022 Stats: .306 BA, 1.1019 OPS, 37 HRs, 97 RBIs
  • 2B Jose Altuve
    • The 2017 MVP has been nothing short of the heart and soul of the franchise since he made his rookie debut in 2011.
      • 2022 Stats: .300 BA, .921 OPS, 28 HRs, 57 RBIs
  • 3B Alex Bregman
    • The No. 2 overall selection in the 2015 draft grew exactly how the franchise wanted him to. After a slow start to the 2022 campaign, he would go on to earn the Hitter of the Month honor for the month of August. This just so happens to be around the time he welcomed his first child into the world. Coincidence? We think not.
      • 2022 Stats: .259 BA, .820 OPS, 23 HRs, 93 RBIs
  • RF Kyle Tucker
    • ‘King Tuck’ earned his first All-Star honor after a hot start to the season. Though he may have cooled off a tad, he is starting to heat back up. A threat at the plate and on the basepaths, this man is sure fun to watch.
      • 2022 Stats: .257 BA, ,808 OPS, 30 HRs, 107 RBIs
  • SS Jeremy Pena
    • The University of Maine product had question marks entering the season. The main one is if he can be an efficient replacement for Carlos Correa who signed with the Minnesota Twins this past offseason. Let’s just say that he’s in the race for Rookie of the Year honors. So, it’s safe to say he is going to be just fine.
      • 2022 Stats: .253 BA, .715 OPS, 22 HRs, 63 RBIs

The Pitchers

Houston Astros starting pitcher Framber Valdez throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels Sunday, July 3, 2022, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
  • SP Justin Verlander
    • The ageless wonder. The 39-year-old seems to only throw harder as he gets older. Verlander has been the Astros’ ace since he was traded to the team in 2017. He had to get Tommy John surgery in 2020. How does he bounce back after missing roughly a year and a half? He goes ahead and has a career-best 1.75 ERA, which easily puts him in the running for his third Cy Young award.
      • 18-4, 1.75 ERA, 0.829 WHIP, 185 SO, 29 BB, 175.0 IP
  • SP Framber Valdez
    • 2022 was his best season yet as the sinkerballer broke an Astros franchise record for Quality Starts with 25 in a row which was snapped earlier this year. The lefty was a 2022 All-Star selection and led the American League in Innings Pitched, Complete Games and Shutouts.
      • 17-6, 2.82 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 194 SO, 67 BB, 201.1 IP
  • SP Luis Garcia
    • After finishing second in the 2021 Rookie of the Year race, Garcia has only come out firing in 2022 including a huge game 3 performance in the ALDS. He is a starter of the future for the team and you should be excited for what’s to come.
      • 15-8, 3.72 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 157 SO, 47 BB, 157.1 IP
  • P Cristian Javier
    • ‘El Reptile’ may not look the best on the stat sheet, but this man has played every role that has been asked of him and he has done it well. The 25-year-old Dominican’s fastball is one of the best in baseball and has the potential to shine brighter when put in a bigger role in the future.
      • 11-9, 2.54 ERA, 0.938 WHIP, 194 SO, 52 BB, 148.2 IP
  • RP Ryne Stanek
    • On the final game of the regular season, the 31-year-old set an Astros franchise record with the lowest ERA by a reliever with a 1.15. This was not the only way the right-hander made history. He was hotter than the sun when he did not allow an earned run for nearly three months, 27.2 innings.
      • 54.2 IP, 1.15 ERA, 62 SO, 31 BBs

What’s going on right now?

The Astros enter the postseason with a 106-56 record which is good for the second-best record in franchise history. It may not have been good enough to set the franchise record, but it was indeed good enough for the best record in the American League, which means the No. 1 seed in the playoffs and a first-round bye.

After the long-awaited bye, the Astros welcomed the Seattle Mariners into Houston and had one of the most memorable Divisional Series in Astros history.

Houston Astros’ Yordan Alvarez, right, celebrates his two-run home run against the Seattle Mariners with teammates during the sixth inning in Game 2 of an American League Division Series baseball game in Houston, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Yordan Alvarez was the hero in Games 1 and 2 of the series when he had a walk-off three-run bomb to end game 1 in an 8-7 score. Then in game 2, Alvarez struck again in the sixth inning to give the Astros a 4-2 win. But somehow, someway, it was Game 3, in which the Astros’ most dangerous slugger did not get a hit in, that will probably be the most memorable.

In a normal baseball game, nine innings would be played, eight and a half if the home team has the lead. Normally, that would be it, maybe there are a couple of extra innings but everyone still goes home in a decent time. What if we told you that an 18-inning game, the equivalent of two full games was played at T-Mobile Park in Seattle on Oct. 15? Let us fill you in.

There have only been four playoff games in MLB history to go more than 18 innings. However, this was the first one in MLB history to go into the 18th inning with a scoreless ballgame. Jeremy Pena was Houston’s hero with a solo shot in the top of the 18th for the go-ahead run to complete the sweep of the Mariners. He becomes the third rookie to home in extras in MLB’s history. The game lasted 6 hours and 22 minutes. To give context as to how players were affected, when the game started, players were battling the sun and shadows, and by the time the dust settled, it was almost night in the Seattle sky.

With the sweep complete, the Astros move on to the American League Championship Series for a best-of-seven series against the New York Yankees. Where the winner of the series will move on to the World Series. Days and game times will be below.

  • Game 2: Yankees at Astros, 7:37 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 20 (TBS)
  • Game 3: Astros at Yankees, 5:07 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 22 (TBS)
  • Game 4: Astros at Yankees, 7:07 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 23 (TBS)
  • Game 5*: Astros at Yankees, 4:07 p.m., Monday, Oct. 24 (TBS)
  • Game 6*: Yankees at Astros, 6:07 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 25 (TBS)
  • Game 7*: Yankees at Astros, 7:37 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 26 (TBS)

*if necessary

We hope this taught you a bit and gave you enough information to hop on the Astros bandwagon. As always, Go ‘Stros.