2010 MLB Comeback Player Candidates

Aaron TitinerContributor IIOctober 4, 2010

2010 MLB Comeback Player Candidates

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    Winning the Comeback Player of the Year is not nearly as honorable as a Cy Young or an MVP, but this award shows the players and fans that a player's re-emergence as a stud player has occurred in any given season.  

    In the 2010 season, there were several players who brought themselves back into the spotlight by breaking a barrier that they have not touched in years.  Whether it was hit .300 on the season for the first time in 5 years, or any other type of statistical drought, the avid followers of baseball know who is worthy of being recognized for their hard work.

AL Comeback Player of the Year #5: Juan Pierre

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    2010 Stats:

    179 H, 651 AB, .275 AVG, 1 HR, 47 RBI, 68 SB

    Why Juan Is on this List:

    We all know that a team would be lucky to get two home runs out of Juan Pierre.  But this year Ozzie Guillen and Kenny Williams didn't give a crap about his long balls.  Instead of home runs, they knew that Pierre's hits and stolen bases would be the statistical strong point that would carry the South Siders.

    He didn't have a splendid average or a huge amount of RBIs, but he was tied for 11th place with Derek Jeter for most hits in the American League.  Even though Jeter had a year he would definitely like to forget, it is never an easy challenge to level up with one of the greatest ever.

    For Juan though, his speed is second to none.  His 68 stolen bases were the most in the league, beating Michael Bourn of the Astros by a remarkable 16.  Even though he he was caught stealing 18 times, he has had a 100 percent success rate since September 17th. 

    The Last Year He Was this Dominant:

    2006: 204 H, 699 AB, .292 AVG, 3 HR, 40 RBI, 58 SB with the Chicago Cubs

NL Comeback Player of the Year #5: Mike Pelfrey

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    Andrew Burton/Getty Images

    2010 Stats:

    15-9, 3.66 ERA, 204.0 IP, 213 H, 113 SO

    Why Mike Is on this List:

    It may shock some people that Pelfrey is on this list, but the truth is he was under the radar for most of the 2010 season.  This may have been due to the fact that he was on an awful New York Mets team, but Pelfrey ranked a decent 26th in the NL in ERA and tied for 6th for most wins.  These numbers surely don't stand out like Roy Halladay's or Adam Wainwright's, but Pelfrey has proven himself to be an important part to this Mets rotation, along with ace Santana, Niese, and Dickey. 

    Even though his July was 0-3 with a 10.02 ERA, he put up jaw-dropping numbers in April, going 4-0 with a 0.69 ERA, and August going 3-2 with a 1.82 ERA.

    The Last Year He Was this Dominant:

    2008: 13-11, 3.72 ERA, 200.2 IP, 209 H, 110 SO with the New York Mets


AL Comeback Player of the Year #4: Francisco Liriano

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    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    2010 Stats:

    14-10, 3.62 ERA, 191.2 IP, 184 H, 201 SO

    Why Francisco Is on this List:

    Along with Chris Carpenter and Tim Hudson, Liriano has become one of the most dominant pitchers who have come back from Tommy John surgery.  While only starting 30 games between 2006-2008, high hopes of a mind-blowing return seemed unlikely for the Minnesota ace. 

    Throughout the second half of the 2010 season, Liriano was in Cy Young talks with Sabathia, Hernandez, and Buchholz.  Even though it's pretty evident that he will not win the Cy Young Award, don't be too surprised if this guy ends up winning the Comeback Player award for bringing Minnesota to another AL Central crown.

    The Last Year He Was this Dominant:

    2006: 12-3, 2.16 ERA, 121 IP, 89 H, 144 SO with the Minnesota Twins (as a rookie)

NL Comeback Player of the Year #4: Jose Reyes

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Stats:

    159 H, 563 AB, .282 AVG, 11 HR, 54 RBI, 30 SB

    Why Jose Is on this List:

    Even though Jose missed 29 games this season, and neglecting an injury-full 2009 season, Jose has never had less than 647 AB in his career.  While his thyroid gland was causing him some problems in the beginning of the year, Jose returned to his previous dominant and speedy self to show Minaya and Manuel that he can return from just about anything. 

    Next year, we should see Jose continue his hot streak to become one of the most dominant shortstop gloves and stolen-base threats in the league. 

    The Last Year He Was this Dominant:

    2008: 204 H, 688 AB, .297 AVG, 16 HR, 68 RBI, 56 SB with the New York Mets (159 games played)

AL Comeback Player of the Year #3: Alex Rios

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Stats:

    161 H, 567 AB, .284 AVG, 21 HR, 88 RBI, 34 SB

    Why Alex Is on this List:

    As a White Sox fan, seeing Alex Rios look like absolute crap throughout his 2009 stint with the South Siders was completely horrid.  He hit .199 with 3 HR and 19 RBI in 146 AB.  When the '09 season came to a close, Rios, besides Peavy, would become the most talked about addition to the White Sox.  It was questioned whether he would return to his All-Star Blue Jays form, or if he would continue the ugly form with which he ended the 2009 season.

    Clearly Rios put up almost better numbers than what he had with Toronto, and ranked in the top three in almost every statistical category for the White Sox this season.  For next season it would be nice to see Rios bumped up to the second spot in the order so that him and Juan Pierre could be an absolute deadly 1-2 punch.

    The Last Year He Was this Dominant:

    191 H, 643 AB, .297 AVG, 24 HR, 85 RBI, 17 SB with the Toronto Blue Jays

NL Comeback Player of the Year #3: Scott Rolen

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    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    2010 Stats:

    134 H, 471 AB, .285 AVG, 20 HR, 83 RBI, 1 SB

    Why Scott Is on this List:

    Scott turned out to be a pleasant surprise for the Reds this year.  Not many critics expected any other players besides Votto to step up and help Cincy win the NL Central.  Fortunately, Rolen, along with Bruce and Gomes, helped form an unstoppable hitting force.

    Though Rolen hasn't played 140 games since 2006, his 133 games in the 2010 season proves that this 35-year old veteran can still get a lot done at the plate and at the hot corner.  He committed only 8 errors this season, one of his lowest totals in his career.

    I'm not sure if Rolen will stay a Red next year, but how far the Reds get in the postseason this year will determine how badly Dusty Baker wants him next season.

    The Last Year he was this Dominant:

    2006: 154 H, 521 AB, .296 AVG, 22 HR, 95 RBI, 7 SB with the St. Louis Cardinals

AL Comeback Player Of The Year #2: Adrian Beltre

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    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Stats:

    189 H, 589 AB, .321 AVG, 28 HR, 102 RBI, 2 SB

    Why Adrian Is on this List:

    Curiosity killed the cat just like injuries killed the Red Sox 2010 season.  Pedroia, Ellsbury, Youkilis, Beckett, and tons of other Red Sox players fell victim to the DL this season.  Adrian Beltre stayed off the DL this year and has made himself one of the most dominant all-around hitters in the game.

    His stellar average was fourth in the American League, and he was tied for tenth in RBIs.  It's pretty evident that Beltre isn't going anywhere after his 2010 season and look for him to be a Triple Crown threat for the next few years.

    Terry Francona probably felt that his Bo-Sox would return to World Series form after picking up Beltre and Lackey, who turned out to suck like hell, but Beltre can be the Manny Ramirez that pairs up with David Ortiz to get another ring in Boston.

    The Last Year He Was this Dominant:

    2004: 200 H, 598 AB, .334 AVG, 48 HR, 121 RBI, 7 SB with the Los Angeles Dodgers

NL Comeback Player Of The Year #2: Corey Hart

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Stats:

    158 H, 558 AB, .283 AVG, 31 HR, 102 RBI, 7 SB

    Why Corey Is on this List:

    Corey Hart, along with Casey McGehee, became the new powerhouse hitters for the Brewers, replacing the positions once filled by Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun.  While Braun's numbers were relatively similar to those of Hart's, Fielder his a mediocre .261 with 32 HR and 83 RBIs.

    Even though Macha is on his way out as the Brewers manager, the next skipper for the Brew Crew has something to look forward to with this All-Star.  Watch for Hart to be moved out of the #2 spot and into clean-up for next year, and get ready for him to be a possible MVP candidate in the upcoming years.

    The Last Year He Was this Dominant:

    2007: 149 H, 505 AB, .295 AB, 24 HR, 81 RBI, 23 SB with the Milwaukee Brewers

AL Comeback Player Of The Year Winner: Vladimir Guerrero

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    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Stats:

    178 H, 593 AB, .300 AVG, 29 HR, 115 RBI, 4 SB

    Why Vlad Is on this List:

    Along with Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz, and Michael Young, Vlad capped off one of the groups of 2-5 hitters in baseball.  In the first three months of the season, Vlad hit .336 with 18 HR and 68 RBI, and at that point had a legitimate chance with Josh Hamilton and Miguel Cabrera at the Triple Crown.

    But all early hot streaks have to come to an end, and Vlad went through July and August hitting .240 with 7 HR and 31 RBIs.  At that point, though, the Rangers will still favorites to win the AL West, and were doing so without the consistent rear-whooping bat of Vlad. 

    If Ron Washington and the Rangers don't get past the Rays, I would be completely shocked, especially since Hamilton's back and Vlad, who has had plenty of experience in the playoffs, could help them get pretty far.

    Look for this All-Star starting again for the Rangers in the 2011 season, putting up bigger numbers than this year, and belonging to one of the most dominant pair of 3-4 hitters of all time with Josh Hamilton.

    The Last Year he was this Dominant:

    2007: 186 H, 574 AB, .324 AVG, 27 HR, 125 RBI, 2 SB

NL Comeback Player of the Year Winner: Aubrey Huff

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Stats:

    165 H, 569 AB, .290 AVG, 26 HR, 86 RBI, 7 SB

    Why Aubrey Is on this List:

    Aubrey Huff was without a doubt the most surprising comeback in the National League.  His outstanding numbers show how hard he has worked in San Francisco to return to his prime numbers in Baltimore and even back in Tampa Bay.  Leading off a 3-4-5 along with ROTY candidate Buster Posey and veteran Pat Burrell, Huff led a group of hitters that would become the powerhouse of the NL West.

    Yes, there are other NL players whose numbers are better than those of Huff's, but this is only the second time in eleven seasons that Huff has made it to the playoffs.  If he had stayed in Baltimore, his season would end with another extreme disappointment.

    Now that he plays for the Giants, he took over the role manned by Pablo Sandoval in the 2009 season and carried the Giants on his shoulders to the playoffs.   

    The Last Year He Was this Dominant:

    2008: 182 H, 598 AB, .304 AVG, 32 HR, 108 RBI, 4 SB

Thank You For Reading!

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    I hope you all enjoyed my first article on BR.com.

    Any criticism is welcome concerning my writing, and I hope some of you can agree with my opinions on the 2010 MLB season.

    Thank you all!

    - Aaron Titiner

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