KANSAS CITY -- Throughout the five-game American League Division Series between the Astros and Royals, one main theme kept popping up: this year's Houston team looked a lot like last year's Kansas City team, in terms of youth, talent, speed and makeup.
Although the Astros didn't get as far this year as the Royals did last October, when they ended a nearly three decades-long playoff drought and made it to Game 7 of the World Series, it's easy to see the parallels between the two teams. That's why Kansas City manager Ned Yost didn't take this series lightly, admitting before Game 5 of the ALDS that he was concerned.
"I was a little bit nervous with that group they had," Yost said after the Royals won the clincher, 7-2. "They're extremely talented. Experience -- you don't have experience until you get it. And a lot of times, you get experience when you win that Wild Card Game. I knew they would be very, very tough. This was a very hard-fought series for us. They're a good team, man."
The Royals, who will host the Blue Jays in the AL Championship Series beginning Friday (7:30 p.m. ET on FOX and Sportsnet), were gracious in victory, sending complimentary accolades the Astros' direction while celebrating their Game 5 victory.
Recognizing the Astros for a hard-fought series was one of the first things first baseman Eric Hosmer mentioned when he made his first comments in a television interview following the game.
"You've got to tip your cap to Houston right there, they played a heck of a series," Hosmer said. "It seemed like we were coming back or we were behind with our backs against the wall pretty much every single game. So just a great series overall. I'm glad we could come out on top."
Yost believes the Astros are going to be regular contenders, which is what he relayed to Houston manager A.J. Hinch during this series.
"They're going to be a force in the American League for years and years to come," Yost said. "You can just see them developing and continuing to grow and continuing to gain confidence and continuing to get better.
"They're athletic, they're energetic, they're a lot like us. They love playing with each other. You can tell they have great defense. And I think the job A.J. did this year with them was fantastic, and that's exactly what I told him."
General manager Dayton Moore, the architect of the modern-day Royals -- who are the model for teams like Houston in terms of building from within through scouting and player development -- called the Astros "an incredible team."
"The outfield that they run out there, they cover this ground as good as any team we've played," Moore said. "Just incredible youth, great energy, very talented. They have perhaps the best shortstop-second base combination in the game and very good starting pitching.
"They've done an unbelievable job turning that organization around."
Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.