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AL Comeback Player of the Year Candidates

Posted on: March 3, 2008 3:56 am
Edited on: March 3, 2008 8:27 pm
 
A brief look at some potential candidates for the AL Comeback Player of the Year Award......


1. Francisco Liriano - SP - Minnesota Twins

In 2006, Francisco Liriano was arguably the most dominant pitcher in the American League. His 12-3 record, along with his league leading 2.16 era stood well above the rest of the league. However, Liriano's brilliant 2006 season came to an end when he injured his elbow in game against the Oakland Athletics in September. The injury might have cost the Twins from advancing in the 2006 ALDS and it cost Liriano his 2007 season as well. Now in 2008, a year removed from Tommy John Surgery, Liriano is primed to return to the Twins rotation and take over as their ace. Because of the injury, many people have been doubting whether or not Liriano can return to form for the Twins. If Liriano can come back and pitch the way he used to, he'll be a shoe-in for this award. After all, he isn't nicknamed "the franchise" for nothing.

2. Julio Lugo - SS - Boston Red Sox

Unlike most comeback candidates, Julio Lugo isn't coming off of any type of injury from the previous season. He just wasn't that good in 2007. While Lugo blamed his struggles on a stomach parasite he had last January, there won't be room for any other excuses heading into 2008. Last season, Lugo hit .237/.294/.349, which was his worst line ever as a pro. Remarkably, Lugo set a career high last season in RBI with 73, and he also had his 2nd best year stealing bases. All Lugo needs to do is raise his batting average. If he can do that, all of his other numbers will follow suit while he bats in the Red Sox lineup.


3. Richie Sexson - 1B - Seattle Mariners

One of the most remarkable things in 2007 was how the Seattle Mariners were able to compete for the AL West title last season while one of their "best hitters" had his worst season ever as a pro. Compared to his previous seasons in the league, 2007 was a disaster for Richie Sexson. Sexson only batted .205/.295/.399 with 21 home runs and 63 RBI. Even more remarkable is that Sexson only managed to rack up 89 hits when he managed to hit 159 the season before. About a quarter of Sexson's hits last season were home runs. Sexson has never been this bad of a hitter before and he's now entering a contract year. Because of this, Sexson could be a prime candidate to win the award.

4. Dontrelle Willis - SP - Detroit Tigers

After two seasons in a row of decline, many people are starting to question if Dontrelle Willis can be an effective starter in the league. In 2007, Willis posted a 10-15 record with an era of 5.17 for the Marlins. In addition, for the 2nd straight season, Willis was among the league leaders in walks and in hits allowed. However, Willis has shown in the past that he can be a solid starting pitcher and perhaps a change of scenery might help him. In Detroit, Willis will have one of the AL's best offenses, along with the AL's best pitchers park on his side. These factors should help Willis as he attempts to turn his career around and forget that 2007 ever happened.

5. B.J. Ryan - CL - Toronto Blue Jays

Much like Liriano, B.J. Ryan spent 2007 on the shelf after he injured his elbow and had to have Tommy John Surgery. Since 2004, Ryan has been one of the best relievers in the game and his 2006 numbers (2-2, 1.37 era, 38 saves) were the best of his career. If Ryan performs even half as good as his totals then, he will be in the running for this award. The main concerns for the Blue Jays will be his health, but they can afford to give him days off with the emergence of Jeremy Accardo in the bullpen.



Honorable mentions:
Comments

Since: Sep 27, 2007
Posted on: March 20, 2008 10:54 pm
 

AL Comeback Player of the Year Candidates

I have to speak on BJ Ryan when we talk about come back player. He has proven. You cant deny his major ability at his position. Has tons of potential amongst.
His stats speak highly. Do not be surprised!!



Since: Nov 14, 2006
Posted on: March 4, 2008 8:31 pm
 

AL Comeback Player of the Year Candidates

If you want to go by players having down years and coming back this year, you could've had Travis Hafner on your list and even Johnny Damon as well. No. Because they have to have a really bad year in order to win the award. I don't think a player that hit 25 homers, 100 RBI, and had an OPS+ of 118 qualifies (Hafner). As for Damon, check out his career averages, and then look at his 2007 numbers. They practically mirror each other.




Since: Jan 20, 2007
Posted on: March 4, 2008 8:23 pm
 

AL Comeback Player of the Year Candidates

Another potential candidate for AL comeback player of the year, if he is healthy and can remain healthy all year, is Scott Rolen.  His shoulder has really given him problems over the last year or two but when he was healthy, he could do it all.  I haven't followed his progress this spring yet, so I don't know where he's at, health-wise, or how he'll adjust to the AL and not knowing the pitchers.



Since: Jan 20, 2007
Posted on: March 4, 2008 7:41 pm
 

AL Comeback Player of the Year Candidates

Good job, BP.  Though I agree with MichiganP about Lugo.  I'm not sure he should be so high on the list (if on the list at all) - maybe as an honorable mention.  I don't see him increasing his BA that significantly this year to get any consideration for comeback player of the year.  If you want to go by players having down years and coming back this year, you could've had Travis Hafner on your list and even Johnny Damon as well.  They both had bad years last year (for them).  I think Hafner will have a better year, as he had some nagging injuries last year that I think affected his hitting.  Damon, I'm not so sure if he will be much better this year or not, but he also had some nagging injuries last year so he could have a better year if he's healthier now.

I also agree with bigp&m that Hank Blalock is a good candidate.  If he can stay healthy all year, he should have a very good year.  Texas, as everyone knows, is one heckuva hitters ballpark and Blalock is a heckuva hitter when healthy.  Another candidate that I think could've gotten at least an honorable mention is Kenny Rogers.  He missed the majority of last year due to injury.  I don't know if he has anything left, given his age, but if he can stay healthy and pitch all year, he has a chance of having a decent year with the offense that the Tigers have this year.  I wouldn't count on BJ Ryan either.  I think it's too soon for him to try to come back early in the season.  Historically, it has taken most pitchers a year and a half to two years to come all the way back from Tommy John surgery.




Since: Jan 9, 2008
Posted on: March 3, 2008 9:02 pm
 

AL Comeback Player of the Year Candidates

My main point with Lugo is that he had a horrible year at the plate last season and if he can get up his batting average, he will easily set career numbers in home runs, rbi, runs scored, and steals since he is in the Red Sox lineup. Couple that with a strong fan base support and compare it to his previous season, and he could very well be in the running.True, in the Red Sox lineup, he likely would put up big numbers.  I just do not think he would get consideration for Comeback Player regardless of the stats he puts up.  He has played consistently well over the past few years, and by setting a career high in RBI last season, he likely won't be on the final list.  Baldelli would be a sure winner if he could stay healthy for a full season.  A big if with him.  I won't believe it until I see it.

 




Since: Nov 14, 2006
Posted on: March 3, 2008 8:25 pm
 

AL Comeback Player of the Year Candidates

One candidate that I think will have a run at the comeback player of the year award is Hank Blalock. If he can play a full season and get back to his 25-30 HR calibur self and keep his high average and solid overall defense, he'll be in the mix.Wow. Good call.....I can't believe I didn't think of him. While Blalock had subpar 2005 and 2006 seasons, he got off to a torrid start last season before having to undergo shoulder surgery in May. At the time he got injured, he was on pace for his best season as a pro. Hopefully for the Rangers, he can start where he left off and continue to hit the ball well. If he gets back to form, as you stated, he remains a strong possibility to win the award.



Since: Aug 24, 2006
Posted on: March 3, 2008 8:13 pm
 

AL Comeback Player of the Year Candidates

Nice work. One candidate that I think will have a run at the comeback player of the year award is Hank Blalock. If he can play a full season and get back to his 25-30 HR calibur self and keep his high average and solid overall defense, he'll be in the mix.



Since: Nov 14, 2006
Posted on: March 3, 2008 6:09 pm
 

AL Comeback Player of the Year Candidates

Nicely done, but I don't get Lugo.  As you state, he did put up a career high in RBI and was solid on the base paths.  His average alone does not rank him #2 on this list.You're probably right.....However, he does deserve consideration. His OPS+ last season was 65. In case you aren't familiar with the statistic, it measures offensive production and compares it to the league average, which is set at 100. Don't hold me to this, because I haven't had the time to look it up, but Lugo was probably the worst offensive and defensive shortstop in the American League last year. I was actually incorrect about Lugo putting up a career high in RBI (though it was close to his career high).

My main point with Lugo is that he had a horrible year at the plate last season and if he can get up his batting average, he will easily set career numbers in home runs, rbi, runs scored, and steals since he is in the Red Sox lineup. Couple that with a strong fan base support and compare it to his previous season, and he could very well be in the running.






Since: Nov 14, 2006
Posted on: March 3, 2008 6:01 pm
 

AL Comeback Player of the Year Candidates

I'm not sold on Baldelli being a solid regular. Even when he was healthy, he only had one year (2006) where he was an above average regular in the outfield. So even if he is healthy, and returns to just being an average outfielder, is that enough to give him this award. Not to mention, Baldelli's constant injury problems leave me in doubt if he'll ever be fully healthy. His situation reminds me a lot of Bobby Crosby and Rich Harden in Oakland. Both have been projected to be solid players, but neither can stay healthy for a full season. While Baldelli's name could emerge, I don't think he should be a frontrunner heading into the season (which is why I gave him an honorable mention).



Since: Dec 17, 2006
Posted on: March 3, 2008 4:00 pm
 

AL Comeback Player of the Year Candidates

First off, nice work on the list. I agree that Lugo is going to have to be productive soon--the Red Sox have lots of help on the farm they can call on. I agree that Rocco Baldelli should be near the top of the list.


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