San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey and Tampa Bay Rays closer Fernando Rodney are the winners of the National League and American League MLB Comeback Player of the Year Awards. Both players took difficult paths to receive the recognition and their outstanding play in 2012 is why they are much deserving of the award.
Many thought it would take quite some time for Posey to return to form after suffering a fractured fibula and torn ligaments after a home plate collision on May 25 last year. With Posey’s season over and his career in jeopardy, Giants fans questioned whether the All-Star would ever be able to play at the same high level.
Not only did Posey return to his old form, but he also surpassed many expectations by having a dominant season in which he has become the heavy favorite to win the NL MVP Award. It is no surprise that Posey is the Comeback Player of the Year in the NL because of his phenomenal performance at the plate and outstanding ability to command games defensively.
Posey’s path to recovery was a difficult one filled with many hours in physical therapy. However, it has appeared to pay off since the Giants have a legitimate shot at another World Series berth. The 25-year-old catcher recorded career highs with 24 home runs, 103 runs batted in, 78 runs, 39 doubles and 69 walks while he also captured the NL batting title with a .336 average.
Rodney’s comeback may not have been as dramatic as Posey’s, but he still deserves to be mentioned in the same breath. The 35-year-old reliever had a rough 2011 in which he went 3-5 with a 4.50 earned run average in 39 games with the Los Angeles Angels. Rodney lost his closing job to Jordan Walden in early April and requested a trade from the Angels in September of last year.
The right-hander signed a one-year deal with the Rays that could turn in to plenty more after his outstanding 2012 season. He finished the year with 2-2 record and a 0.60 ERA in 74 2/3 innings. Rodney surrendered only five earned runs all season while he struck out a career-high 76 batters.
Rodney’s 0.60 ERA set a Major League record for a reliever breaking Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley’s 1990 record. Both men are also the only two pitchers in history to post at least 40 saves and an ERA below 1.00. Rodney’s 48 saves is a new Rays franchise best and he is only the sixth pitcher to be named Comeback Player of the Year. As if being recognized for his great comeback was not enough, he also is the recipient of the Delivery Man of the Year Award.
There were plenty of other solid candidates who qualified for Comeback Player of the Year, but none of them matches Posey and Rodney’s incredible season.
Michael is a MLB and NBA Featured Writer for Rant Sports, but covers topics for various teams in baseball, basketball, and football. Make sure to follow Michael on Twitter @MichaelTerrill and on Facebook.