A mocked 2014 Sports Illustrated cover predicted the Houston Astros' 2017 run to the World Series

On Tuesday, the Houston Astros will head to Los Angeles to play the Dodgers in Game 1 of the 2017 World Series.

The Dodgers' path to the World Series was a shock to no one — Los Angeles has won their division title every year since 2013, and have the spending power to compete for the best players.

Counter to that, the Houston Astros' World Series run is the result of one of the most impressive rebuilds in MLB history. In the midst of three consecutive seasons from 2011-13 in which the Astros lost 106, 107, and 111 games, respectively, the organization began the Herculean task of turning the worst team in baseball into a contender.

While most would think the postseason a distant dream for those woeful Astros teams, those working in the club believed that success could come much sooner, as did one Sports Illustrated cover story that is now once again making the rounds as its bold prediction comes closer and closer to becoming a reality.

SI Cover George Springer Astros World SeriesSports Illustrated

The response to SI's gutsy declaration was not extremely positive. The Houston Chronicle called the cover "more of an attention-grabbing, perhaps even tongue-in-cheek projection than a prediction," and many baseball fans were quick to mock the claim.

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Ben Reiter's story, "Astro-Matic Baseball: Houston's Grand Experiment," ran as the cover of Sports Illustrated on June 30th, 2014 with the sub-headline, "An Unprecedented Look At How a Franchise Is Going Beyond Moneyball To Build the Game's Next Big Thing... Your 2017 World Series Champs."

In the article, Reiter is given impressive access to the Astros' front office, gleaning insight to how a team of coaches, scouts, and stat gurus were working in an effort to turn the franchise around.

A common refrain amongst those he spoke with likened the process to playing blackjack. Blackjack is a game of hard numbers, where with each card revealed, there is a certain percentage of available outcomes, and a mathematically correct play for the gambler to make depending on the situation, and sometimes the correct decision doesn't feel great to make. 

Related: See photos from the Astros' defeat of the Yankees: 

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Astros defeat Yankees in ALCS Game 7
HOUSTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 21: The New York Yankees play against the Houston Astros in Game Seven of the American League Championship Series at Minute Maid Park on October 21, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 21: A detail shot of Jose Altuve #27 of the Houston Astros' batting helmet and gloves in the dugout during Game 7 of the American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees at Minute Maid Park on Saturday, October 21, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Cooper Neill/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 21: The New York Yankees stand for the national anthem before Game 7 of the American League Championship Series against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on Saturday, October 21, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Cooper Neill/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 21: A fan holds up a sighn during Game 7 of the American League Championship Series between the New York Yankees and the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on Saturday, October 21, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Cooper Neill/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 21: CC Sabathia #52 of the New York Yankees pitches during Game 7 of the American League Championship Series against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on Saturday, October 21, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Cooper Neill/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 21: Evan Gattis #11 of the Houston Astros hits a solo home run in the fourth inning against the New York Yankees in Game Seven of the American League Championship Series at Minute Maid Park on October 21, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 21: Evan Gattis #11 of the Houston Astros celebrates with Jose Altuve #27, Carlos Correa #1 and Marwin Gonzalez #9 after hitting a solo home run against CC Sabathia #52 of the New York Yankees during the fourth inning in Game Seven of the American League Championship Series at Minute Maid Park on October 21, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 21: CC Sabathia #52 of the New York Yankees walks back to the dugout after being relieved in the fourth inning against the Houston Astros in Game Seven of the American League Championship Series at Minute Maid Park on October 21, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 21: Model Kate Upton (C) reacts after a strike out by the New York Yankees as the play against the Houston Astros in Game Seven of the American League Championship Series at Minute Maid Park on October 21, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 21: Yuli Gurriel #10 of the Houston Astros slides safe at home plate against Gary Sanchez #24 of the New York Yankees off of a double hit by Brian McCann #16 against Tommy Kahnle #48 of the New York Yankees during the fifth inning in Game Seven of the American League Championship Series at Minute Maid Park on October 21, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 21: Jose Altuve #27 of the Houston Astros rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run in the fifth inning of Game 7 of the American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees at Minute Maid Park on Saturday, October 21, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Cooper Neill/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
Oct 21, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros center fielder George Springer (4) jumps in the way of Astros left fielder Marwin Gonzalez (9) to catch New York Yankees first baseman Greg Bird (not pictured) ball in the seventh inning during game seven of the 2017 ALCS playoff baseball series at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 21, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros center fielder George Springer (4) shows the ball as Astros left fielder Marwin Gonzalez (9) reacts against the New York Yankees in the seventh inning during game seven of the 2017 ALCS playoff baseball series at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 21: Lance McCullers Jr. #43 and Brian McCann #16 of the Houston Astros celebrate after the final out of Game 7 of the American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees at Minute Maid Park on Saturday, October 21, 2017 in Houston, Texas. The Astros defeated the Yankees 4-0. (Photo by Cooper Neill/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 21: Lance McCullers Jr. #43 and Brian McCann #16 of the Houston Astros celebrate after the final out of Game 7 of the American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees at Minute Maid Park on Saturday, October 21, 2017 in Houston, Texas. The Astros defeated the Yankees 4-0. (Photo by Cooper Neill/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 21: Jose Altuve #27 of the Houston Astros celebrates with Alex Bregman #2, Marwin Gonzalez #9 and Carlos Correa #1 after defeating the New York Yankees by a score of 4-0 to win Game Seven of the American League Championship Series at Minute Maid Park on October 21, 2017 in Houston, Texas. The Houston Astros advance to face the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 21: Jose Altuve #27 of the Houston Astros celebrates in the locker room after defeating the New York Yankees by a score of 4-0 to win Game Seven of the American League Championship Series at Minute Maid Park on October 21, 2017 in Houston, Texas. The Houston Astros advance to face the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 21: The Houston Astros celebrate with the The William Harridge Trophy after defeating the New York Yankees by a score of 4-0 to win Game Seven of the American League Championship Series at Minute Maid Park on October 21, 2017 in Houston, Texas. The Houston Astros advance to face the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 21: Jose Altuve #27 of the Houston Astros celebrates with Carlos Correa #1 after defeating the New York Yankees by a score of 4-0 to win Game Seven of the American League Championship Series at Minute Maid Park on October 21, 2017 in Houston, Texas. The Houston Astros advance to face the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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"Hitting a 16 against a dealer's seven, it doesn't feel right," Sig Mejdal, blackjack dealer turned NASA researcher turned Astros director of decision sciences, says in the piece. "With a hundred-dollar bet, it feels even less right. But that doesn't mean it isn't right."

Mejdal and his team's goal was to figure out a way to combine hard data (batting average, strikeout/walk ratios) and soft information (a batter's swing, player effort, the likelihood of injury), to create one value that gave the Astros the chance to make as informed a decision as they possibly could when it came to personnel choices. Like hitting on 16 against a dealer's seven, the Astros vowed to make the smart decision, even if it didn't feel right, whether that meant letting go of a fan-favorite player or drafting what had historically been viewed as a risky proposition. Three years later, you can see the results of this overhaul across the Astros roster.

But as far-fetched as the idea seemed at the time, the Astros are now on the cusp of history, and those 105-loss seasons probably aren't keeping Houston fans up at night.

As Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow put it back in 2014, "When you're in 2017, you don't really care that much about whether you lost 98 or 107 in 2012. You care about how close we are to winning a championship in 2017."

Right now, the Astros are four wins away.

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