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MLB History: Houston Astros Move To The American League

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In MLB History, we will go back in time and revisit the realignment that changed the landscape of the divisions within MLB as the Houston Astros made a move from the National League to the American League.

MLB History: Astros In The National League

Since the Houston Astros were founded in 1962 as the Colt .45s, the team was always apart of the National League in some capacity. The Astros were not officially apart of the National League until 1969 when the organization joined the NL West. At the time, the NL West consisted of the Atlanta Braves, San Francisco Giants, Cincinnati Reds, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Houston Astros. This NL West division would remain the same until MLB did a realignment after the 1993 season to balance out the divisions due to the Florida Marlins and Colorado Rockies‘ additions in 1991.

Starting in 1994, the Astros would begin the season in the newly aligned National League Central division. The NL Central consisted of the Cincinnati Reds, Houston Astros, Pittsburgh Pirates, St. Louis Cardinals, and Chicago Cubs. In 1998, MLB would re-align the central division by moving the Milwaukee Brewers from the American League to the National League.

The Milwaukee Brewers would move to the National League due to MLB adding two new expansion teams, the Arizona Diamondbacks and Tampa Bay Devil Rays (now Tampa Bay Rays). With the addition of the expansion teams, the league needed to restructure the divisions to balance the teams’ competitiveness. Still, ultimately, it threw off the number of teams in each division as the NL Central Division consisted of six teams.

The Astros would have much success in the mid-1990s in the NL Central, winning division titles in 1997, 1998, 1999, and 2001. The Astros would make it to the NLDS in those years but could never advance in the playoffs. In 2004, the Astros were finally able to make it to the NLCS for the first time in franchise history. Losing to the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 7, who would then lose to the Boston Red Sox in the World Series. The Astros would return to the postseason in 2005, and this time would get over the hump and make it to the World Series for the first time to face the Chicago White Sox. The Astros would go on to be swept in that series.

MLB History: The Move To The American League

The Astros would play their last season in the National League in 2012. Starting in 2013, the Astros would make the switch and join the American League. New owner Jim Crane was handed a proposal that if he were to switch to the American League, he would be given a discount before he purchased the team. Crane agreed, and soon the Astros would be apart of the American League West.

With the Astros moving to the AL West, each of the divisions would now have five teams per division. Since the Diamondbacks and Rays joined MLB in 1998, each of the divisions had consisted of either four or six teams.

With the Astros now in the AL West, this formed a rivalry with the Texas Rangers; something MLB wanted as it might draw in extra TV revenue. For the longest time, the teams were in separate divisions and rarely played each other. Each season, there is a battle of the Silver Boot, which is awarded to the team with the most series wins at the end of the season. As it currently sits, the Rangers lead the series 120-95.

MLB History: Final Thoughts

For the longest, the Astros were always a National League team. After the switch, many arguments were made by fans that the Astros should not be in the American League. Still, since the team has made the switch, the Astros have gone through three seasons of hundred losses, three seasons of one hundred wins, three AL West Divison titles, four trips to the ALCS, two World Series appearances one World Series Championship.

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Main image credit: Embed from Getty Images

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Jeff "Rip" Griffin is a current MLB writer covering the Houston Astros. Rip is also the host of The Rip Griffin Show on Apple Podcasts. Rip holds a Bachelors of Science in Kinesiology, focusing in Sports Management from the University of Houston - Victoria.