Coming into the 2010 season, the Braves had two players who hoped to enter the Comeback Player of the Year race.
Tim Hudson missed the majority of the 2009 season after Tommy John surgery, and many wondered whether the Braves would resign him, as doing so would mean trading either Derek Lowe or Javier Vazquez.
In his late-season appearances, Hudson convinced the Braves that he was worth re-signing, and the team eventually traded away Vazquez (after failing to trade Lowe) in order to stay within the budget.
Looking for a big, right-handed bat, the Braves turned to former slugger Troy Glaus, who also missed the majority of the 2009 season.
After battling through injuries, Glaus had a great 2008 before getting hurt again. Needing a first baseman to bridge the gap to Freddie Freeman, the Braves took a chance on Glaus and brought him in to be a much-needed power bat.
Thus far in the season, Hudson is among the NL leaders with a 2.43 ERA, and Glaus is tied for the NL lead with 46 RBI.
With stats like that, both Hudson and Glaus are in the race for Comeback Player of the Year, but which one will finish the year with the better season?
2010 Stats: 6-2, 2.43 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 0.8 WAR, 85.1 IP, 36:30 K/BB
Underlying Stats: .235 BABIP, 83.3% strand rate, 4.35 FIP, 4.42 xFIP
ZIPS Rest of Season Projection: 5-4, 4.06 ERA in 14 starts
ZIPS Updated Full Season Projection: 11-6, 3.23 ERA
2010 Stats: .279/.375/.474 11 HR, 46 RBI, 0.9 WAR
Underlying Stats: .320 BABIP
ZIPS Rest of Season Projection: .260/.363/.449 11 HR, 45 RBI
ZIPS Updated Full Season Projection: .269/.369/.462 22 HR, 91 RBI
The underlying stats show that both players have been lucky so far this season, Hudson more so than Glaus.
As a sinkerball pitcher, Hudson is expected to have an ERA below his FIP, but not two full runs lower. Both his BABIP and strand rate have been extremely fortunate, and he hasn’t shown any ability to miss bats consistently.
Despite everything that has been said, if Hudson finished the season with a 3.23 ERA, he will have surpassed most of the expectations on him coming into the season.
What makes Glaus’ start so impressive is that he couldn’t do anything right in April. On the year, he has a somewhat fortunate BABIP, but his batting average shouldn’t sink too much over the course of the season.
What has stood out the most for Glaus is the number of RBI he has put up. With Martin Prado and Jason Heyward both getting on base at the top of the lineup, he should continue to drive in runs, and might exceed the 91 RBI that ZIPS projects him to have.
Overall, I would have to say Hudson has the better chance of winning the award. Although he is likely to regress more, he has been far more outstanding in the early season.
If both players finished with their ZIPS updated projections, I would definitely choose Hudson.
Even if Glaus exceeds his projection in RBI (and maybe hit a couple more homers), I would still take Hudson with a 3.23 ERA.
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