Josh Donaldson may be bringing home some hardware.
In the NL, Donaldson, Hyun Jin Ryu, and Sonny Gray have been named the three finalists for the Comeback Player of the Year award. For the AL, Lucas Giolito, Jorge Soler, and Hunter Pence are the three names. I think both of these are two-horse races. With all due respect to Pence and Gray, they aren’t competition here. Really surprised they didn’t give some love to former Brave Mike Minor after notching 200 Ks. Let’s break down the numbers:
Sonny Gray in 2018: 11-9, 4.90 ERA, 123 K in 130.1 IP
Sonny Gray in 2019: 11-8, 2.87 ERA, 205 K in 175.1 IP
Hyun Jin Ryu in 2018: 7-3, 1.97 ERA, 89 K in 82.1 IP
Hyun Jin Ryu in 2019: 14-5, 2.32 ERA (Led MLB), 163 K in 182.2 IP
Josh Donaldson in 2018: .246/.352/.449/.801, 8 HR, 23 RBI, 31 BB in 52 Games
Josh Donaldson in 2019: .259/.379/.521/.900, 37 HR, 94 RBI, 100 BB in 155 Games
Personally, in the tradition and meaning of the award, Donaldson takes this home easily. While Ryu was also injured last season, Donaldson came back from one of the worst injuries an athlete can have and was also very ineffective when he did play. Ryu was phenomenal when he did play in 2018, but he could still win based on the fact that he led the Majors in ERA.
Lucas Giolito in 2018: 10-13, 6.13 ERA, 125 K in 173.1 IP
Lucas Giolito in 2019: 14-9, 3.41 ERA, 228 Ks in 176.2 IP, 3 CG (Led MLB), 2 SHO (Led MLB)
Jorge Soler in 2018: .265/.354/.466/.820, 9 HR, 28 RBI in 61 Games
Jorge Soler in 2019: .265/.354/.569/.922, 48 HR, 117 RBI in 162 Games, 178 K (Led MLB)
Hunter Pence in 2018: .226/.258/.332/.590, 4 HR, 24 RBI in 97 Games Played
Hunter Pence in 2019: .297/.358/.552/.910, 18 HR, 59 RBI in 83 Games Played
Giolito has to win this for me. In 2018, he almost had the same amounts of runs allowed as strikeouts, led the league in earned runs and walks, and he almost cut those totals in half this year. Soler was awesome while leading the AL in HRs, but Giolito was a revelation. You have to give a shoutout to Hunter Pence; he wasn’t as durable (he played fewer games this year than last), but he went from almost being out of baseball to a .300 hitter.