Comeback Player of the Year

Beginning with the last home stand, they began to announce that voting has begun for the Comeback Player of the Year. I typically don’t pay much attention to this award since it normally is given to someone who either had a horrendous year last season then rebounded back to normal stats or some player that is well beyond their prime but caught lightning in a bottle one last time. Neither of these situations warrants an award but I figured I would check out the balloting and see who was included. When I navigated to the site, the first thing I noticed was the sponsor. There plastered across my screen was a graphic of a giant baseball and underneath in baby blue letters it stated, Presented by Viagra. Wow, now there is an award I am sure any player would be thrilled to have his name associated with. I mean think how proud you would be to take this home to your mother so that she too could share in the news that according to Viagra you were the comeback player of the year. Of course they would spend the next several years in therapy as they tried to explain to the doctor how traumatic it was to first bring Viagra up to your mother then how really traumatic it was to have your mom tell you she was well aware of Viagra and how it had helped your father. Yeah I can see no good coming from this.

Once I finally got through the targeted advertising I began to look through the nominees. For the National League there was Nomar Garciaparra, Carlos Beltran, Scott Rolen, Joe Borowski, Edgar Renteria, and Johnny Estrada. These were some very interesting names and I had to stop and evaluate each of them.

Nomar found himself on the outside looking in for most teams during the 2005 off-season. He was coming off a year where he played only 62 games for the Chicago Cubs. In that time he hit .283 driving in 30 runs and hit 9 homers. Those stats aren’t too different to what he has posted this season. He has again had an injury plagued series allowing him to only play in 90 games so far. His batting average is .330 with 66 RBI and 14 HR. Considering he played in approximately 30% more games this year than last the numbers are fairly similar. I guess his inclusion in this list is an opportunity to reward a player for not getting hurt as much from year to year. If that is the case maybe the award should have been sponsored by Band-Aid or Ben Gay.

Carlos Beltran also warrants scrutiny. During the off-season after the 2004 season Beltran was the most sought after outfielder in the free agent market. He signed a contract to play for the Mets and for 2006 he rewarded them with a batting average of .266 hitting 16 home runs and driving in 78 RBI. His batting average was actually 8 points higher last year than it was with Houston the year before when came over from the American League. This year his batting average is 23 points higher and his home run title is 50 percent higher than it was in 2005. He has also increased his RBI total 25 percent from the previous year. Considering that Carlos is only 29 you would expect his production go up as he moves into the prime of his career. In this case I guess the award is rewarding someone for living up to their potential.

Scott Rolen had injury problems during the 2005 season that caused him to miss 108 games. In his abbreviated season he recorded a .235 average hitting 5 home runs and driving in 28. This year he has again seen his time limited due to injuries but has played in 108 games hitting .316 with 18 home runs and 76 RBI. Rolen has at times been very inconsistent which has cost my fantasy baseball team to falter in the standings and resulted in me benching him twice this season. I’m sorry but if you mess up my fantasy line-up there is no way I am voting for you.

Joe Borowski has become the closer in Florida. That is like being named head chef at the Titanic buffet. Its an awesome job but in the end no one remembers the food. This guy probably deserves some kind of an award since he spent 2005 in Chicago with the Cubs then moved to Tampa Bay before ending in Florida. His role was completely different in each of those places so there is no way to evaluate whether he is having a better or worse year than last year. As a closer he hasn’t done too bad and has 27 saves versus 3 blown saves. But last year he had 20 holds and 4 blown saves between Chicago and Tampa Bay so those aren’t bad stats either. I guess he is on the list because he is flexible and consistent regardless of what he is asked to do.

Edgar had interesting stats comparing last year to this year. Last season with Boston he hit .276 with 8 home runs and 70 runs batted in. This season with Atlanta his average rose to .302 and his home run total is at 11 but his RBI total is lower with 50. This is more a factor that the National League pitching is not as good as the American League. So to me these stats are pretty much a wash.

Estrada played in Atlanta during 2005 and up until interleague play he was on pace for an All-Star selection. Then Darin Erstad came to town and plowed him like a field of peanuts. Estrada suffered a concussion and was never quite the same which is why the Braves made him available for trade. This year Estrada has led the Diamondbacks and carried the team at points during the season. You could definitely made a case for Estrada as the Diamondbacks MVP but do his numbers justify him being comeback player of the year? In nearly the same amount of games his average is 40 points higher, he has 5 more home runs and has driven in 20 more runs. This season he is hitting 22 points higher than his career average and has hit 30 percent of his career home runs this season. Still since he has really only played 5 years in the major leagues it is hard to tell how much of this is a comeback versus reaching your prime.

In the end I voted for Estrada. First his stats looked better from year to year and second he is a nice guy. But the most important reason for voting for him is that the guy just needs a break. He’s fighting a stomach problem that will result in taking his day off for an endoscopy. With all of that going on, they guy needs a little Viagra award to make him feel better. I just hope that if he wins that he will stand straight and proud when he accepts the award.

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