The MLB Comeback Player of the Year Award (presented by Viagra). Probably the most coveted of all baseball awards. This year seems to have more than a few good candidates in both the AL and NL.
I'll look through some of the candidates for both leagues, and give them a rating, from 1-10, with 10 being the best and one being the worst. This blog is just for the American League, though, the NL version will come in the near future.
Josh Hamilton: I've heard this suggested before. No go. Hamilton came back from a drug addiction, and this is excellent for him, but not only was this a few years ago, but last year (2006) he had an excellent season as well, hitting .292 with a .922 OPS and 19 HR in 298 AB. In fact, he had a better OPS last year than this year.
Lifer Rating: 2
Cliff Lee: Probably the odds-on favorite as of now, Lee is also a major candidate for the Cy Young. Last year his ERA was 6.29 in 20 games (16 starts). This year thus far, his ERA is 2.58 in 22 games (22 starts). Likewise, his WHIP has dropped substantially, and his 15 wins are tied for best in the AL.
Lifer Rating: 10
Mike Mussina: Moose hasn't gotten a lot of notice this year, but he has undeniably been spectacular. He is 15-7 with a 3.27 ERA this year. Last year? 11-10 with a 5.15 ERA. He has become much more comfortable with his role on the Yankees, and is the ace of the team as of now.
Lifer Rating: 8
Jose Lopez: Better OPS, BA, OBP, SLG%, walk-strikeout ratio, more RBIs, doubles, hits, and only 2 fewer HR and one fewer Run. He is one of the few bright spots on the monstrosity in Seattle.
Lifer Rating: 6
Justin Duchscherer: Another possible Cy Young winner, Duchscherer is having his first season as a starter, and it is excellent. Here is the differential from last year to this year: ERA (245 points), WHIP (60 points), BAA (75 points). Nevertheless, it is hard to compare a reliever to starter.
Lifer Rating: 7
Mariano Rivera: He is arguably having the best season for a closer in a long, long time. His ERA is 1.43, he has 28 saves in 28 opportunities, 0.72 WHIP, and 5 BB to 61 K. He wasn't bad last year, far from it, but last year was also a down year for Mo. Everyone thought he had taken the first step to retirement. Now, he is the most dominant closer in the game right now.
Lifer Rating: 5
Jermaine Dye: He is hitting .304 with 26 HR and 69 RBI, not to mention 71 runs. Compared to last year, he has 2 fewer HR and 9 fewer RBI in over 100 fewer At-Bats. His BA jumped 50 points, and his OPS has jumped from .804 to .933.
Lifer Rating: 6
JD Drew: In 130 fewer at bats than last year, he has 8 more HR, 4 fewer RBI, and an OPS jump from .796 to .947. One great example of his transformation is his walk-strikeout ratio. Last year he had 79 walks and 100 strikeouts. This year he has (so far) 69 walks and 73 strikeouts.
Lifer Rating: 6
I left off a few names like Ian Kinsler and Carlos Quentin...those guys are young and have had relatively few seasons, and the award is pretty much never given to someone who isn't at least in their late 20s or early 30s. They have also never been especially good, so there isn't much to "come back" from. Young players are usually given a break on a bad season anyways. I only mentioned Josh Hamilton because of the drug addiction and all I've been hearing about him being the potential winner.
There you have it, folks. Feel free to share your opinions on my choices. Be aware that I am right and you are wrong, however.