2017 World Series Game 7 Recap: From Worst to First

Just five years after having one of the worst teams in baseball history, the Houston Astros were crowned world champs Wednesday night.

Just a few years ago, the Houston Astros were the laughingstock of baseball.

In 2011, they lost 106 games. In 2012, they lost 107. And the year after that, in 2013, they suffered 111 losses. It was a dark time, gang.

But now, just five years later, they're world champions. Led by World Series MVP George Springer and outstanding relief work from Charlie Morton in Game 7, the Astros defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-1 in the final game of a Fall Classic that will be remembered as one of the best ever played.

Houston's turnaround from being the worst franchise in baseball to one of its best has only been done by three other teams in history.

The Astros had been in existence for 55 years before winning their first championship, the third-longest start to a franchise without a title in the World Series era. Baseball has seen a number of teams end historic droughts in recent seasons, with Houston the third straight champ to snap a title drought of at least 29 years. Given that trend, here are the likely candidates to end their suffering in the near future.

The Astros were the second-oldest active franchise in major North American sports not to win a title. That honor now belongs to the Texas Rangers and the NFL's Atlanta Falcons, both of whom have come oh-so-close recently. And now that Houston has a title under their belts, there are seven MLB franchises left that have yet to win a World Series: the Tampa Bay Rays, Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers, Washington Nationals, Milwaukee Brewers, San Diego Padres, and Colorado Rockies.

Springer, the talented young Houston outfielder, was on fire throughout the entire World Series and was a force to be reckoned with again in Game 7. He led off the game with a double and scored the first run before hitting a back-breaking two-run homer in the second inning to make it a 5-0 lead before many Dodgers fans even had time to find their seats.

Springer slashed .379/.471/1.000 in the World Series while tying Reggie Jackson's (1977) and Chase Utley's (2009) homer record with five. He became the first player to hit a dinger in four straight World Series games and had a record-breaking 29 total bases and 8 extra-base hits. His five home runs from the leadoff spot in this postseason were second-most all-time to Lenny Dykstra, who hit six in the 1993 playoffs.

It would be easy to say no one saw this coming, but that isn't entirely true. Three years ago, Sports Illustrated released a cover predicting this very thing.

Kinda spooky, huh? But the Astros' world championship is not a fluke. Led by Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, Alex Bregman, Dallas Keuchel, Lance McCullers, Brian McCann, and the recently-acquired Justin Verlander, Houston's talent has been on display for the last three years.

And the contributions from Morton should not be overlooked. He made just four starts last year with the Philadelphia Phillies before blowing out his hamstring running out a groundball as a hitter. He was signed last winter by Houston, and with a fastball that suddenly registered in the mid-to-upper 90s and a ridiculously good curveball, went 14-7 with a 3.62 ERA in 25 regular season starts. He started two games in the World Series and hurled 23.1 total innings, third-most on the team. Since manager A.J. Hinch had no confidence in his bullpen, Morton was asked to toss the final four innings of Game 7, which he did, giving up just one run on two hits with four strikeouts and one walk.

It was his first relief appearance since 2008.

Springer and the Astros jumped all over Yu Darvish, who had an abysmal Fall Classic. He failed to make it out of the second inning in each of his two starts and gave up nine runs (eight earned) on nine hits and two walks with no strikeouts for an ERA of 21.60. Overall in the playoffs, he posted an ERA of 6.14 in 14.2 innings. The postseason is always a small sample size, but it's hard not to believe the free agent-to-be didn't cost himself some years and money with this performance.

L.A.'s offense also couldn't get anything done in Game 7 despite a number of opportunities. The Dodgers went 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position and left 10 men on base in the clincher. They remain title-less since 1988.

So the Houston Astros have their first world title, while L.A.'s pain will linger for another season. But both teams should be in the mix for the World Series for years to come, so it's entirely possible there will be a Fall Classic rematch somewhere down the road.

For now, though, the city of Houston gets to enjoy its first-ever baseball parade.