"It's frustrating, but these guys fought. I mean, they fought to the very end," Baker said after Saturday's game, per John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle. "People didn't have us making the playoffs. Most people didn't have us beating Minnesota. Nobody had us beating Oakland. ...One thing for sure, we'll be back in this position next year."
The Astros went just 29-31 during the shortened 2020 season, the worst record among playoffs teams in the American League, but went 5-1 combined in series wins over the Minnesota Twins and Oakland Athletics. After going down 0-3 in the ALCS against the Rays, Houston won three straight to force a Game 7 before finally being eliminated.
While the run was relatively surprising based on regular-season results, the team's talent has never been in question.
Houston won over 100 games in each of the last three years, winning the World Series in 2017 while finishing as the runner-up last season. The team has now reached the ALCS in four straight years.
The only doubts came from an MLB investigation determining the Astros illegally stole signs from opposing teams and signaled to players on the field. Manager A.J. Hinch was suspended by the league and eventually fired, paving the way for Baker to take over the ready-made contender.
After a mediocre regular season, this playoff run showed the offense is still dangerous and this is clearly a team to beat in 2021.
Baker has never won a World Series in 23 years as a major league manager but is ready to try again next season.