Since 2005, MLB has awarded one player in the American League and one player in the National League the Comeback Player of the Year Award. When the award was developed, Major League Baseball defined candidates for the award as "players who have re-emerged on the baseball field during a given season."
Entering this season, there are four players who have shown they can play at an All-Star level but had a down year last year. These players are sure to be favorites to regain that form and claim MLB's Comeback Player of the Year Award.
In 2011, Victor Martinez joined the Detroit Tigers as a free agent and lived up to his four-year, $50 million contract by hitting .330 and over 100 RBI. His good fortunes did not continue, as he missed the entire 2012 season when he tore his ACL during an offseason workout.
The 34-year-old is looking to rebound from the knee injury and join a potent offense that has sluggers Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder. He is off to a slow start to the year, though, as he is hitting .138 with only three RBI.
These numbers shouldn't be too big of a concern, though, as it has been over a year since Martinez saw regular-season game action. He should be considered one of the favorites to win the award based on the situation he is in with Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder hitting ahead of him.
Mariano Rivera came back for one more season to win a World Series title, after last year was cut short by a freak knee injury. The way the Yankees have started the season, a championship seems unlikely, but Rivera could end his career with a different piece of hardware in the form of a Comeback Player of the Year trophy.
He is the best closer the game has ever seen and was one of the cornerstones of the Yankee organization over the past 15-plus years. It will be interesting to see how the 43-year-old will be able to respond to knee surgery and if he can regain his dominating form.
He did show a little rust in his first start, giving up a run in his first save opportunity but still got the save. The second outing was a step in the right direction, giving up only two hits but no runs or walks.
Carl Crawford looks to be fully recovered from the Tommy John surgery that he had after only 31 games last season. He is off to a fast start in Dodger blue, with nine runs scored and 14 hits in the first nine games.
It will be interesting to see if he is able to keep it up for a whole season and return to the form he was in with the Tampa Bay Rays rather than the player fans in Boston had to watch. As the leadoff hitter, he should have plenty of opportunity to score runs with Adrian Gonzalez and Matt Kemp hitting behind him.
Troy Tulowitzki is one of the best shortstops in the game, but he has had trouble staying healthy, and last season was no different. After only 47 games, Tulowitzki was shut down by a groin injury that required surgery.
Even after missing the majority of the season it doesn't look like Tulo has missed a beat with three home runs, eight runs batted in and a .345 batting average through the first eight games. If he is able to stay healthy for the majority of the season, there is no reason to think he can't get back to being one of the better hitters in the game, especially with half his games at Coors Field.