Comeback Player of the Year Award

From BR Bullpen

The Comeback Player of the Year Award was awarded by The Sporting News every season from 1965 to 2006, with one award given in each league every season. The award was created for a player who was once a star, but had to come back from either injury or ineffectiveness to reclaim his status. The criteria for the award are not well defined, and the choices have sometimes been criticized for either never having been star players in the first instance, or not having come back from a noticeable decline in their performance. An example of the first instance is Randy Jones, who won the award after his first good season in 1975, and who was never, by any stretch of the imagination, considered a star beforehand. In the second case, Richie Zisk won the award in 1981 for a performance that was not noticeably better than his previous seasons, especially when context is taken into account.

There is nothing that prevents a player form winning the award multiple times, and indeed this has been done by Norm Cash, Boog Powell, Bret Saberhagen, Andres Galarraga and Chris Carpenter. Rick Sutcliffe and Francisco Liriano have won the award in both leagues.

In 2005, Major League Baseball started awarding its own Comeback Player of the Year Awards, which quickly eclipsed those granted by The Sporting News (which were discontinued a year later). The winners of the two sets of Comeback awards were the same during the two seasons when both were in effect, 2005 and 2006.

The Award was granted posthumously in 2016, when Jose Fernandez of the Miami Marlins was honored in spite of having died in a tragic boating accident that September.

Award Winners[edit]

The Sporting News Comeback Player of the Year Award[edit]

Year American League National League
Player Team Player Team
1965 Norm Cash Detroit Tigers Vern Law Pittsburgh Pirates
1966 Boog Powell Baltimore Orioles Phil Regan Los Angeles Dodgers
1967 Dean Chance Minnesota Twins Mike McCormick San Francisco Giants
1968 Ken Harrelson Boston Red Sox Alex Johnson Cincinnati Reds
1969 Tony Conigliaro Boston Red Sox Tommie Agee New York Mets
1970 Clyde Wright California Angels Jim Hickman Chicago Cubs
1971 Norm Cash Detroit Tigers Al Downing Los Angeles Dodgers
1972 Luis Tiant Boston Red Sox Bobby Tolan Cincinnati Reds
1973 John Hiller Detroit Tigers Davey Johnson Atlanta Braves
1974 Ferguson Jenkins Texas Rangers Jimmy Wynn Los Angeles Dodgers
1975 Boog Powell Baltimore Orioles Randy Jones San Diego Padres
1976 Dock Ellis New York Yankees Tommy John Los Angeles Dodgers
1977 Eric Soderholm Chicago White Sox Willie McCovey San Francisco Giants
1978 Mike Caldwell Milwaukee Brewers Willie Stargell Pittsburgh Pirates
1979 Willie Horton Seattle Mariners Lou Brock St. Louis Cardinals
1980 Matt Keough Oakland Athletics Jerry Reuss Los Angeles Dodgers
1981 Richie Zisk Seattle Mariners Bob Knepper Houston Astros
1982 Andre Thornton Cleveland Indians Joe Morgan San Francisco Giants
1983 Alan Trammell Detroit Tigers John Denny Philadelphia Phillies
1984 Dave Kingman Oakland Athletics Joaquín Andújar St. Louis Cardinals
1985 Gorman Thomas Seattle Mariners Rick Reuschel Pittsburgh Pirates
1986 John Candelaria California Angels Ray Knight New York Mets
1987 Bret Saberhagen Kansas City Royals Rick Sutcliffe Chicago Cubs
1988 Storm Davis Oakland Athletics Tim Leary Los Angeles Dodgers
1989 Bert Blyleven California Angels Lonnie Smith Atlanta Braves
1990 Dave Winfield California Angels John Tudor St. Louis Cardinals
1991 José Guzmán Texas Rangers Terry Pendleton Atlanta Braves
1992 Rick Sutcliffe Baltimore Orioles Gary Sheffield San Diego Padres
1993 Bo Jackson Chicago White Sox Andrés Galarraga Colorado Rockies
1994 José Canseco Texas Rangers Tim Wallach Los Angeles Dodgers
1995 Tim Wakefield Boston Red Sox Ron Gant Cincinnati Reds
1996 Kevin Elster Texas Rangers Eric Davis Cincinnati Reds
1997 David Justice Cleveland Indians Darren Daulton Philadelphia Phillies/Florida Marlins
1998 Bret Saberhagen Boston Red Sox Greg Vaughn San Diego Padres
1999 John Jaha Oakland Athletics Rickey Henderson New York Mets
2000 Frank Thomas Chicago White Sox Andrés Galarraga Atlanta Braves
2001 Rubén Sierra Texas Rangers Matt Morris St. Louis Cardinals
2002 Tim Salmon Anaheim Angels Mike Lieberthal Philadelphia Phillies
2003 Gil Meche Seattle Mariners Javy López Atlanta Braves
2004 Paul Konerko Chicago White Sox Chris Carpenter St. Louis Cardinals
2005 Jason Giambi New York Yankees Ken Griffey Jr. Cincinnati Reds
2006 Jim Thome Chicago White Sox Nomar Garciaparra Los Angeles Dodgers

Major League Baseball Comeback Player of the Year Award[edit]

Year American League National League
Player Team Player Team
2005 Jason Giambi New York Yankees Ken Griffey Jr. Cincinnati Reds
2006 Jim Thome Chicago White Sox Nomar Garciaparra Los Angeles Dodgers
2007 Carlos Pena Tampa Bay Devil Rays Dmitri Young Washington Nationals
2008 Cliff Lee Cleveland Indians Brad Lidge Philadelphia Phillies
2009 Aaron Hill Toronto Blue Jays Chris Carpenter St. Louis Cardinals
2010 Francisco Liriano Minnesota Twins Tim Hudson Atlanta Braves
2011 Jacoby Ellsbury Boston Red Sox Lance Berkman St. Louis Cardinals
2012 Fernando Rodney Tampa Bay Rays Buster Posey San Francisco Giants
2013 Mariano Rivera New York Yankees Francisco Liriano Pittsburgh Pirates
2014 Chris Young Seattle Mariners Casey McGehee Miami Marlins
2015 Prince Fielder Texas Rangers Matt Harvey New York Mets
2016 Mark Trumbo Baltimore Orioles Jose Fernandez Miami Marlins
2017 Mike Moustakas Kansas City Royals Greg Holland Colorado Rockies
2018 David Price Boston Red Sox Jonny Venters Tampa Bay/Atlanta
2019 Carlos Carrasco Cleveland Indians Josh Donaldson Atlanta Braves
2020 Salvador Perez Kansas City Royals Daniel Bard Colorado Rockies
2021 Trey Mancini Baltimore Orioles Buster Posey San Francisco Giants
2022 Justin Verlander Houston Astros Albert Pujols St. Louis Cardinals
2023 Liam Hendriks Chicago White Sox Cody Bellinger Chicago Cubs

Further Reading[edit]

  • Rick Swaine: Baseball’s Comeback Players: Forty Major Leaguers Who Fell and Rose Again, McFarland, Jefferson, NC, 2014. ISBN 978-0-7864-7654-1