There were a handful of “Comeback Player of the Year” types of awards this year from a variety of sources, and the National League versions tended to focus exclusively on guys like Tim Hudson, Edinson Volquez, and Casey McGehee (they were, for example, the three nominees for the player’s choice award). Indeed, in MLB’s version of the award, McGehee took home the award.
I know I just pouted about Anthony Rizzo losing the Silver Slugger, but I’m going to double dip and kick some dirt here about Starlin Castro. No, these awards don’t matter in any results-oriented sense, but I think it’s nice when deserving players are recognized for their success – and, being that I’m a Cubs fan, that is particularly true when the deserving player is a Cub.
Let’s talk for a moment about Tim Hudson, Casey McGehee, and Edinson Volquez. I understand each selection as a comeback player of the year, but I have some beefs. Hudson came back from that terrible ankle injury, but was worth just 1.7 WAR this year (that’s sub-average-player level). Casey McGehee literally “came back” from Japan but posted a mere 102 wRC+ this year at third base (2.0 WAR). Edinson Volquez had a great ERA, but, by advanced statistics, was pretty much the same guy he always was (0.7 WAR). So, you’ve got one legit comeback guy (Hudson), one guy who changed professional leagues, and one guy who didn’t really comeback from anything. And none were really all that great in 2014.
And then you have Starlin Castro, who dealt with personal and performance issues last year (0.1 WAR), and came back this year to be among the best shortstops in baseball, posting a 115 wRC+ and a 2.9 WAR. That’s worth at least a nomination, isn’t it?
I know it’s a little stupid to fight about what constitutes a “comeback” and who came back more and whatever. But Starlin Castro had a comeback. Maybe the biggest in all of baseball. I guess this will stand as the recognition for that.