In the midst of the Houston Astros unprecedented and extensive franchise tear-down and rebuild, Sports Illustrated famously, boldly declared that the Astros would be the 2017 World Series champions — even though, at that time, 100-loss seasons were the norm.

Of course, we all know now that the wild prediction came true (although not exactly as the Sports Illustrated article itself predicted), and many may have assumed that was the happy ending to the Astros rebuilding experiment.

The Astros posted a combined record of 382-590 from 2009 to 2014, including a 162-324 stretch from 2011-13. The beginning of the rebuild saw the Astros cast off its veteran talent and start to restock through the draft. As they waited for the new talent to develop in the minor leagues, the Astros didn’t worry too much about having players on the major league level that could form a competitive team.

When the Astros brass began to see some light at the end of this long, dark tunnel, though, the team began to steadily and stealthily add low-key veteran players who could help their young core, and by 2015, the Astros were competitive again — reaching the playoffs for the first time since losing the 2005 World Series. Winning awards that season were home-grown talents Dallas Keuchel (Cy Young) and Carlos Correa (rookie of the year).

Two short years after that, of course, the Astros were world champions. But, this rags-to-riches fairy tale hasn’t reached its end yet.

Last season, the Astros were two wins better (103-59) in the regular season than they were in 2017, but injuries hampered their effort in the playoffs. Not content to merely run it back, the Astros made a big splash at the trading deadline, using some of their top prospects to acquire veteran ace Zack Greinke, as well as making a potentially sneaky-good pick-up with starting pitcher Aaron Sanchez, among other moves.

Couple that with the pleasantly surprising emergence of rookie slugger Yordan Alvarez, and the Astros are now a juggernaut intent on bulldozing their way to a second World Series title with one of the most potent batting orders and daunting pitching staffs assembled in recent memory.

The Astros clearly aren’t after just one world title, but rather are hoping to assemble a dynasty the likes that will be remembered in Major League Baseball history for years to come.

James LaCombe: 409-683-5242, james.lacombe@galvnews.com or on Twitter @JamesAtGalvNews

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