Major League Baseball just announced that Lance Berkman and Jacoby Ellsbury have won the Comeback Player of the Year Awards. Obviously they both had great years after (a) a lost year for Ellsbury due to injury; and (b) a mostly lost year for Berkman which, due to a trade that didn’t work out well and general ineffectiveness, had people thinking his career was over or at least in steep decline. Instead, each of them will get a lot of MVP votes this year.
But I can’t say I agree with the pick of Ellsbury. The award, voted on by the MLB.com beat writers, is “presented annually to one player in each League who has re-emerged on the baseball field during the season.” Yes, Ellsbury re-emerged after a season on the disabled list. But Bartolo Colon re-emrged from the freaking dead, didn’t he? I’m rather shocked he didn’t win.
It’s not about who had the better season. Ellsbury obviously did. But with his age and his pre-injury track record, it shouldn’t be at all surprising that Ellsbury was productive this year. Indeed, it would have been a bigger story if, at age 27, he had yet another injury-marred season and was nearing the end of his career. That he bounced back with health is awesome — and that he performed at such a high level is surprising — but is his story one of a promising player having a breakout year or the story of a true comeback?
Meanwhile, yes, Colon’s second half fade and injuries certainly put a damper on the enthusiasm for his comeback. But what a freaking comeback it was! Given his age, conditioning, the nature of his injury and the fact that he dropped off the face of the Earth for the 2010 season, I’d say that it was more likely that we’d see him elected Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Puerto Rico than we would to see him in the rotation of a playoff contender, let alone an effective member of that rotation for much of the year.
No, this isn’t important. Yes, it’s totally subjective. But they pay me to argue about unimportant and subjective crap all the time, so here we are. And I can’t shake the notion that while Jacoby Ellsbury came back nicely, Bartolo Colon was more or less resurrected. Shoulda been him.