As I mentioned in my previous article, the most bittersweet award in professional sports is the “Comeback Player of the Year” as it undoubtedly follows a poor or injury-plagued season. Regardless, one would be hard-pressed to find a player who is upset by this honor given that their career is obviously back on track. The length and volatility of an MLB season yield a plethora of viable candidates for this award. The 60 game MLB season that is set to begin opens the door for some of the more fragile or streaky players to be in the running. Here are a few American League “comeback-kids” to keep an eye out for on the diamond…
With 2 Cy Young Awards and 3 All-Star appearances, Corey Kluber may not have room for any more trophies, but Rangers fans have other thoughts. Kluber was injured most of 2019 going 2-3 with a 5.80 ERA in just 35.2 innings. His past performance, however, makes him the perfect candidate to make a comeback in 2020. As the new ace of a young team in a brand new ballpark, Kluber has the opportunity to really make his mark as a veteran leader if he can harness his previous success.
Mitch Haniger (If he plays)
The Mariners were just flat out bad last year, but it certainly would have helped if their best player didn’t miss 99 games to injury. In 2018 Mitch Haniger put up really solid numbers in the form of a .285 batting average, 26 HR, and 93 RBI. A repeat of that stat line would likely have cemented him as the face of the rebuilding franchise. Injuries had other ideas but that title is still up for grabs. Look for Haniger to take advantage of the extra time off to hopefully get healthy and give M’s fans something to get excited about in 2020.
When one thinks of the dominance and consistency of the Yankees bullpen, Chad Green hardly comes to mind. This, however, is an oversight given that Green’s 2017 and 2018 season were flat out dominant. He is a strikeout machine averaging 12K’s per 9 innings. His 2019 was a bit of a rough patch as he tossed an inflated 4.17 ERA but look for Green to bounce back to his true form in the next couple of weeks.
For the first time since 2014, the model of consistency, Khris Davis, did not bat .247 in 2019. Additionally, his home run output was well below his mid-40s potential, sending only 23 over the wall. Based on Davis’ overall consistency I am inclined to believe that 2019 was a fluke and he will bounce back to his comfortable .247 mark. There isn’t enough season for Khris Davis to hit 40+ HR but hot damn he is going to try!