The AL champion Houston Astros meet the NL Champion Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series, which begins Tuesday night in L.A. It is the first time two 100-win teams are facing each other in the Series since the Cincinnati Reds and Baltimore Orioles in 1970.
This is, of course, the first time the Dodgers and Astros have met in the World Series (the Astros have only been in the AL for five seasons, after all), but they have opposed each other in October. In 1980 they tied atop the NL West, leading to a one-game playoff in which Houston’s Joe Niekro stepped up with a complete-game victory to clinch the club’s first postseason berth. (The Astros went on to lose the NLCS to the Phillies.)
The following year, the two clubs met again in a best-of-five Division Series that was set up to settle matters between the first- and second-half division champions in a season split up by a strike. The Dodgers won that one in five games en route to a World Series title.
At the break in 2017, the Dodgers (61-29) and Astros (60-29) were far and away the best two teams in MLB, each with a winning percentage more than 70 points higher than the third club on the list (the D-backs, who were 53-36). In the grueling test the postseason has become, it is unusual for both clubs that hit that halfway point with the best record in their league to actually face each other in the Fall Classic. It’s happened just three times in the Wild Card era (1995 Braves-Indians, 1996 Yankees-Braves and 2013 Red Sox-Cardinals).