MLB Awards 2010: Francisco Liriano Is B/R's AL Comeback Player Of The Year

Lewie PollisSenior Analyst IIINovember 1, 2010

MLB Awards 2010: Francisco Liriano Is B/R's AL Comeback Player Of The Year

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    Every year, managers, coaches and writers from around Major League Baseball award honors and trophies to the players.

    And every year, they screw up.

    So Bleacher Report's Featured Columnists decided to do it ourselves. Instead of just complaining about the awards as they are announced as we would normally do on our own, we teamed up to hold our own mock awards vote.

    Last week, we kicked off our 16-part results series with the AL and NL Gold Gloves and the AL and NL Silver Sluggers. Today, we continue with the American League Comeback Player of the Year.

    Of the 24 players who received votes, the top five are featured here with commentary from people who chose them. The full list of votes is at the end.

    So read on, see how we did and be sure to let us know what we got wrong!

No. 5: Jose Bautista, Blue Jays

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    Brad White/Getty Images

    Featured writer: Jess Coleman

    After six seasons of varying success, Jose Bautista broke out this season as a part of a very powerful Blue Jays lineup. 

    Leading the league with a sensational 54 home runs, Bautista is even in the discussion for Most Valuable Player.

    With 100 walks, Bautsista also became the first player since 2006 to hit 50 home runs in a season along with 100 walks. He is just the 22nd player in Major League Baseball history to accomplish that incredible feat.

No. 4: Josh Hamilton, Rangers

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    Featured writer: Asher Chancey

    It is indisputable that Hamilton is the 2010 AL Comeback Player of the Year.

    After an injury-plagued 2009 season in which he played in only 89 games and slogged through a .268/.315/.426 year, Hamilton rebounded in 2010 and won the AL batting title, hit 32 home runs with 100 RBI, and led the AL in slugging. Despite missing 29 games with injuries, he still managed to score 95 runs and collect 186 hits.

    Hamilton is not the Mickey Mantle clone his supporters would believe him to be, but he came back from a disaster 2009 season. He continues to be a class talent and one of the best hitters in the AL.

No. 3: Adrian Beltre, Red Sox

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    Featured writer: Matt Trueblood

    The numbers tell you all you need to know. 

    In 2009, Adrian Beltre closed out his disappointing tenure in Seattle by playing 111 games, hitting just eight home runs and totaling an OPS just north of .680.

    He signed with the Red Sox for a pittance, at least relative to what he had earned during his lucrative five-year stay with the Mariners. He earned something more akin to the big money to which he had never lived up out west. 

    He had more homers, RBI and hits than he had had since his monster 2004 campaign. He also slugged his way to a .321/.365/.553 line—an OPS just shy of .920.

No. 2: Vladimir Guerrero, Rangers

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Featured writer: Bob Warja

    The AL Comeback Player of the Year has to be Vladimir Guerrero. 

    Despite being a free agent, not many teams were interested in Vlad last year, but he went on to have a terrific season for Texas, leading all DHs in homers, RBI and batting average.

    He played in 152 games after playing in only 100 games the previous year with the Angels. He almost doubled his home run total from the previous season, more than doubled his RBI total and his WAR went from 0.8 to 2.6.

    All this with a lower BABIP than in 2009, suggesting he hit into worse luck in 2010 than the previous year. Not bad for a 35-year-old that hardly anybody wanted, and almost everybody thought was washed up.

No. 1: Francisco Liriano

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    Featured writer: Lewie Pollis

    When Francisco Liriano got his first extended taste of MLB experience in 2006, he took the game by storm; with a 12-3 record and a pristine 2.16 ERA, he had people thinking Johan Santana wasn’t the Twins' best starter. 

    Then disaster struck. Liriano underwent Tommy John surgery and missed all of 2007. He returned in 2008 a completely different pitcher; he was sent to the minors after giving up six runs in less than one inning in his third start of the season. He followed up on that mediocrity in 2009, when he went 5-13 with a nauseating 5.80 ERA.

    That’s what makes his 2010 numbers go from “fantastic” to “unbelievable.”

    Ignore his 14-10 record and 3.62 ERA—they don’t tell the full story. His 9.44 K/9 ranked second in the AL among starters. His 2.66 FIP trailed only Josh Johnson and Cliff Lee for the best in baseball, and only Roy Halladay bested his 3.06 xFIP—all while anchoring the staff of a playoff team.

    If not for his poor luck (.340 BABIP—second-highest in the league) and the fact that he plays in flyover country, Liriano could be the favorite for the Cy Young. As it stands, though, he’ll have to settle for Comeback Player of the Year.

Full Results

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Voting on a 5-3-1 basis. First-place votes are in parentheses.

     

    1. Francisco Liriano—58 (9)

    2. Vladimir Guerrero—35 (3)

    3. Adrian Beltre—34 (5)

    4. Josh Hamilton—24 (3)

    5. Jose Bautista—23 (4)

    6. Vernon Wells—19 (2)

    7. Paul Konerko, White Sox—11 (1)

    8. Alex Rios, White Sox—9 (1)

    9. Carl Pavano, Twins—8 (1)

    10. Ty Wigginton, Orioles—7 

    11. David Ortiz, Red Sox—6

    12. Shawn Marcum, Blue Jays—5 (1)

    13. Coco Crisp, Athletics—4

    T14. Joaquin Benoit, Rays—3

    T14. Jim Thome, Twins—3

    T14. Jake Westbrook, Indians—3

    T14. Delmon Young, Rays—3

    18. Colby Lewis, Rangers—2

    T19. Daric Barton, Athletics—1

    T19. Clay Buchholz, Red Sox—1

    T19. Daisuke Matsuzaka, Red Sox—1

    T19. Juan Pierre, White Sox—1

    T19. Ervin Santana, Angels—1

    T19. Ben Sheets, Athletics—1

Schedule of Results

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    AL Gold Gloves October 25
    NL Gold Gloves October 26
    AL Silver Sluggers October 27
    NL Silver Sluggers October 28
    AL Comeback Player of the Year November 1
    NL Comeback Player of the Year November 2
    AL Rolaids Relief Man of the Year November 3
    NL Rolaids Relief Man of the Year November 4
    AL Rookie of the Year November 8
    NL Rookie of the Year November 9
    AL Manager of the Year November 10
    NL Manager of the Year November 11
    AL Cy Young November 15
    NL Cy Young November 16
    AL Most Valuable Player November 17
    NL Most Valuable Player November 18