MLB Comeback Player of the Year Award

MLB Comeback Player of the Year Award

The Major League Baseball Comeback Player of the Year Award is presented by Major League Baseball (MLB) to the player who is judged to have "re-emerged on the baseball field during a given season."[1] The award was developed in 2005, as part of a sponsorship agreement between MLB and Viagra.[1] In 2005 and 2006 representatives from MLB and selected six candidates each from the American (AL) and National Leagues (NL) and one winner for each league was selected via an online poll on[1][2] Since then, the winners have been selected by a panel of MLB beat reporters.[3][4][5] Under the current voting structure, first place votes are worth five points, second place votes worth three, and third place votes worth one with the award going to the player with the most points overall.[6] Past winners have often overcome injury or personal problems en route to their award-winning season.

A Comeback Player of the Year Award has been given by The Sporting News since 1965 but its results are not officially recognized by Major League Baseball. Since the beginning of the MLB award in 2005, the recipients have been identical with the following exceptions: 2008 NL (MLB honored Brad Lidge, TSN honored Fernando Tatís) and 2010 AL (MLB honored Francisco Liriano, TSN honored Vladimir Guerrero). Chris Carpenter is the only player to win the TSN award and the MLB award in different years (he won both in 2009 after having previously won the TSN award in 2004).[7]

Ten players were named to the Major League Baseball All-Star team in their Comeback Award winning season: Jim Thome, Nomar Garciaparra, Dmitri Young, Cliff Lee, Brad Lidge, Aaron Hill, Tim Hudson, Lance Berkman, Jacoby Ellsbury and Fernando Rodney. Two players who were not named to the All-Star team in their winning year—Jason Giambi and Ken Griffey, Jr.—were named to the All-Star team in their previous season. Several winners have won other awards in their winning season. Carlos Peña and Hill are the only players to win the Silver Slugger Award along with the Comeback Award. Lee won the Cy Young Award in his winning season and Lidge won both the Rolaids Relief Man and DHL Delivery Man Awards the same year. Rodney was also named Delivery Man in his comeback 2012 season. The most recent winners are Buster Posey from the NL and Fernando Rodney from the AL.

American League winners

Year Winner Image Team Position Comeback
2005 Giambi, JasonJason Giambi New York Yankees First baseman/
Designated hitter
Giambi underwent knee surgery before the 2004 season.[8] He also endured a variety of health problems during the season including an inflamed knee, a respiratory infection, an intestinal parasite infection, and a benign pituitary tumor.[9] As a result, Giambi appeared in just 80 games in the 162-game 2004 regular season, batting .208.[10] He returned to the Yankees in 2005 and led the American League in walks (108) and on-base percentage (.440).[10][11]
2006 Thome, JimJim Thome Chicago White Sox Designated hitter Thome experienced multiple elbow injuries during the 2005 season; appeared in just 59 out of a possible 162 regular season games, batting .205; and was traded to the White Sox from the Philadelphia Phillies in the offseason.[12][13] Thome was elected to the All-Star team in 2006, finishing the season with 42 home runs and 109 runs batted in.[2][13]
2007 Peña, CarlosCarlos Peña Tampa Bay Devil Rays First baseman Pena was released by the Detroit Tigers before the 2006 season. He signed with the New York Yankees, but never appeared in a Major League game for them and was released on August 16, 2006.[14] Finally the Boston Red Sox signed Pena and he appeared in just 18 Major League games,[14] spending the bulk of time in the minor leagues.[15] In 2007 Pena set Tampa Bay franchise records in home runs (46), runs batted in (121), and walks (103)[16] and won the Devil Rays' first Silver Slugger Award.[17]
2008 Lee, CliffCliff Lee Cleveland Indians Starting pitcher Lee pitched 9713 innings in the Majors in 2007, going 5–8 with a 6.29 earned run average (ERA). He missed the first month of the season with an abdominal strain and was sent to the Triple-A minor league Buffalo Bisons mid-season. In 2008 he pitched 22313 innings, went 22–3 with a 2.54 ERA,[18] and won the Cy Young Award.[19]
2009 Hill, AaronAaron Hill Toronto Blue Jays Second baseman On May 29, 2008, Hill collided with former Blue Jays shortstop David Eckstein while fielding a fly ball and suffered a serious concussion.[20] He did not return to the Majors that season.[21] The injury was severe enough that Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston commented that "[s]ometimes people don't come back from concussions."[20] Hill did return in 2009, however, hitting 36 home runs (third most ever by an American League second baseman)[20] with 108 runs batted in; he led the American League in plate appearances, and made the 2009 All-Star team.[22] Hill also won the Silver Slugger Award at second base.[23]
2010 Liriano, FranciscoFrancisco Liriano Minnesota Twins Starting pitcher Liriano missed the entire 2007 season due to Tommy John surgery and was limited by injuries the next two years, including a stint on the disabled list during the 2009 season.[24][25] In 2010, however, Liriano threw the second-most innings of any pitcher for the Minnesota Twins, led the team in ERA, and allowed the fewest home runs per nine innings of any pitcher in the AL (0.4).[26][27]
2011 Ellsbury, JacobyJacoby Ellsbury Boston Red Sox Outfielder In 2010, Ellsbury only played in 18 games after breaking 3 ribs in a fielding collision with Adrián Beltré. In 2011, Ellsbury was the first Red Sox player and one of four Major Leaguers (the most in a single season) to record 30 homers and 30 stolen bases, and he posted career highs in nearly every offensive category. The center fielder hit .321 with 32 homers, 105 RBIs, 39 steals, 46 doubles, five triples and 119 runs, and he led the Majors with 364 total bases and 83 extra-base hits.[5][28]
2012 Rodney, FernandoFernando Rodney Tampa Bay Rays Relief pitcher Rodney battled ineffectiveness in 2011, blowing four saves and being replaced by Jordan Walden as closer of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. In 2012, Rodney became the Rays' closer after Kyle Farnsworth went on the disabled list, and compiled 48 saves (second-most in the American League, only behind Jim Johnson of the Baltimore Orioles) in 50 opportunities while being named to the AL All-Star team and recording an earned run average (ERA) of 0.60, the lowest in a single season by any pitcher in MLB history.[29]

National League winners

Year Winner Image Team Position Comeback
2005 Griffey, Jr., KenKen Griffey, Jr. Cincinnati Reds Center fielder Griffey experienced several serious injuries from 2000 to 2004 including a torn hamstring, a torn knee tendon, a dislocated shoulder, and torn ankle tissue.[9] His torn hamstring required major surgery in August 2004. He appeared in only 83 out of 162 games in the 2004 season.[9][30] Griffey returned in 2005, batted .301, and hit 35 home runs (his most in a season since 2000).[30]
2006 Garciaparra, NomarNomar Garciaparra Los Angeles Dodgers First baseman Garciaparra tore his groin while running out of the batter's box on April 20, 2005 and went on the disabled list.[31] He did not play in another Major League game until August 5[32] and appeared in only 62 of 162 games that season.[33] In 2006 Garciaparra batted .303, made the All-Star team, and made only four errors despite playing first base for the first time in his career.[2]
2007 Young, DmitriDmitri Young Washington Nationals First baseman Young experienced several personal issues throughout the 2006 season, including a divorce, treatment for substance abuse and depression, and pleading guilty to assaulting his girlfriend. He was also released by the Detroit Tigers during the season,[34] appearing in only 48 of the 162 games in the 2006 season.[35] Young ended the 2007 season with a .320 batting average, which ranked 8th in the National League, and was named to the 2007 All-Star team.[35][36]
2008 Lidge, BradBrad Lidge Philadelphia Phillies Relief pitcher In 2006 and 2007, Lidge had 14 blown saves and a 4.37 earned run average (ERA) for the Houston Astros. Some attributed this lesser performance to a game-winning home run Albert Pujols hit off of him in the 2005 National League Championship Series.[37][38] In 2008, Lidge had a 1.95 ERA and converted 41 saves in 41 save chances,[38][39] winning both the Rolaids Relief Man and the DHL Delivery Man Awards.[40][41]
2009 Carpenter, ChrisChris Carpenter St. Louis Cardinals Starting pitcher Carpenter experienced a number of injuries including elbow surgery and Tommy John surgery in the 2007 season followed by shoulder surgery in the 2008 season,[6] allowing him to pitch just 6 innings in 2007 and 1513 in 2008. In 2009, however, Carpenter posted a 17–4 record over 19223 innings with a 2.24 earned run average (ERA),[42] the lowest ERA in the National League that year.[43]
2010 Hudson, TimTim Hudson Atlanta Braves Starting pitcher Hudson suffered an elbow injury in 2008 requiring Tommy John surgery which kept him out for nearly a full season, returning to start a handful of games at the end of 2009. In 2010, however, Hudson pitched the full season for the Atlanta Braves. Hudson ranked in the league's top ten in wins (17, ranking 4th), innings pitched (228, 4th), winning percentage (.654, 4th), ERA (2.83, 6th), and WHIP (1.15, 9th.)[24][44][45] Additionally, Hudson was named to the 2010 Major League Baseball All-Star Game.[45]
2011 Berkman, LanceLance Berkman St. Louis Cardinals Outfielder Berkman suffered a knee injury in 2010 and batted just .248 for the season, posting an OPS of .781 (his career average through 2010 was .954).[5][28][46] In 2011 Berkman ranked among the top 10 in the NL in on-base percentage (3rd), walks (4th), slugging percentage (5th), and home runs (9th).[5][28][46] Some believed Ryan Vogelsong was a strong candidate for the 2011 award, with Sports Illustrated calling him the "leading candidate" in late June.[47] Rob Neyer said Vogelsong was "robbed" of the award.[48]
2012 Posey, BusterBuster Posey San Francisco Giants Catcher/First baseman Posey suffered a fractured fibula and torn ligaments in his ankle after a home-plate collision with Florida Marlins outfielder Scott Cousins on May 25, 2011. He had surgery to repair the damage and did not play at all for the rest of the 2011 season. In 2012, Posey returned to win the National League batting title with a .336 average, and also hit 24 home runs with 103 runs batted in while splitting time between catcher and first base for the 2012 World Series champion Giants. In addition to being named Comeback Player of the Year, he was also named NL MVP after the end of the 2012 season.[49][50]

See also

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