What a year it was for Lance Berkman and Jacoby Ellsbury!? Both men not only demonstrated exceptional statistical seasons, but they also helped lead their respective teams into September. Berkman and his Cardinal teammates made the playoffs, and are currently in position to make another trip to the World Series in the 2000’s. Ellsbury on the other hand, put up the numbers Carl Crawford was signed to put across the scoreboard, but just couldn’t get his team across the regular season finish line. We all know how the Red Sox season ended. Now, both Berkman and Ellsbury will be honored with The 2011 Comeback Player of the Year Award.
Jacoby Ellsbury was a man on a mission in 2011. If anything, he should be considered for league MVP, not the Comeback Award. How does he even receive this award? Where did he comeback from? Ellsbury is a young and talented guy, that will put up these types of numbers for years, one would imagine. He was a top prospect who is finally starting to show why the Red Sox had so much faith in him. The centerfielder recorded incredible numbers this season. He batted .321 with 32 home runs and 105 RBIs, alongside his insane 39 stolen bases. For a speed guy, Ellsbury demonstrated great power and understanding of his strike zone this season. He overwhelmed pitchers in a line-up that just never quit….until the end of the season. If Boston knew Jacoby was going to go off this season, they never would of signed Carl Crawford. In the end, Ellsbury should be and will be an annual league MVP candidate. 2011 was his first step in the right direction.
If you could rename the Comeback Player of the Year Award, I would name it The Berkman. A polar opposite to Ellsbury’s age, game and abilities…Lance is a man who seemingly came back from the dead this season. Everyone, including his mother, thought his career was over last season in New York. Then, just as baseball was ready to move forward, Berkman comes in with the Cardinals and shows people he has a lot left in the tank. This often seems to happen with players once they enter the St. Louis Cardinal organization. “The Big Puma” batted .301 with 31 bombs and 94 runs driven in…not bad for a 35-year old. His first half of the season was one to remember, as he kept St. Louis afloat pretty much by himself on the offensive end. Lance is the true grit of this award and it was beyond well-deserved for the Texas native.
Both of these men exhibited great prowess on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball this season. Therefore, this is their reward for a job well done. Berkman can enjoy it with his teammates as they make a play for the World Series. Meanwhile, Jacoby can share it with his buddies while playing some video games, drinking beer and eating fried chicken (sorry, too soon?) Regardless, both players deserved to be rewarded for their outstanding seasons. Major League Baseball hit it directly on the head with Berkman. However, it is Ellsbury that I believe should be considered for more glamorous hardware to justify his incredible 2011 regular season. You’re looking at a future league MVP.