Predicted Top Five in Voting
||RP Mariano Rivera, NYY
||52 G, 38-of-43 SV, 2.20 ERA, 8.1 K/9
||SP John Lackey, BOS
||24 GS, 8-11, 3.19 ERA, 134 K, 155 IP
||DH Victor Martinez, DET
||132 G, .297/.349/.417, 11 HR, 71 RBI, 57 R
||CF Jacoby Ellsbury, BOS
||125 G, .299/.357/.422, 7 HR, 83 R, 50 SB
||1B James Loney, TB
||127 G, .301/.350/.423, 10 HR, 58 RBI, 43 R
There are a number of good candidates for Comeback Player honors in the American League this year, but it's hard to imagine anyone but Yankees great Mariano Rivera getting the nod. After tearing his ACL early last season, he announced he'd retire at the end of the season this spring, and he's returned to the ranks of the game's elite closers in his final season.
The Red Sox signed John Lackey to a five-year, $82.5 million deal back in 2010, and after going 26-23 with a 5.26 ERA in his first two seasons, he missed all of 2012 with Tommy John surgery. His 8-11 record does not reflect it, but he's been a big addition to the Red Sox rotation and is having his best season since 2007.
Victor Martinez also missed all of the 2012 season after suffering a torn ACL, and after hitting .330/.380/.470 with 12 home runs and 103 RBI in his first season with the Tigers in 2011, he's again playing at a high level in a loaded Tigers offense.
A .321/.376/.552 line with 32 home runs and 39 steals made Jacoby Ellsbury an MVP candidate in 2011, but a shoulder injury last year limited him to just 74 games. He hit just .271/.313/.370 with four home runs and 14 steals when he was on the field. His power still has not returned, but he's once again an elite table-setter, leading the AL with eight triples and 50 steals.
James Loney was not significantly injured last season, but hit just .249/.293/.336 in what was his worst season as a pro. That led to little interest in Loney as a free agent in the offseason, and he settled on a one-year, $2 million deal to join the Rays. Much like Casey Kotchman in 2011, he's benefited greatly from the move to Tampa and change of scenery, and he's one of the major reasons for the Rays' offensive turnaround.