Last week the MLB.com writers named Texas Rangers first baseman/designated hitter Prince Fielder the American League Comeback Player of the year. Which is an award he justly deserves. Prince Fielder wasn’t the only Texas Ranger that could have won that award.
Looking back at the 2015 there are several players that come to mind when thinking about the American League Comeback of the year. In my opinion that list includes Mitch Moreland, Shin-Soo Choo, Colby Lewis, and even Elvis Andrus. I know, before you get to mad about the last one I’ll justify it here in a bit.
First baseman Mitch Moreland had a great year and was one of the many reasons why the Rangers made the playoffs. He had what was a basically a horrible year last year due to injuries and ended up missing a majority of the season. Early on in the season it was evident he was finally playing injury free and had some power return to his bat. Moreland ended the season with a batting line of .278/.330/.482/.812 with 23 home runs. Last season he only had 27 doubles and 2 home runs over 52 games. To put things in perspective he had his career best batting average, doubles and home runs. At one time people questioned which position he would play. Now he looks to be the Rangers first baseman again next season.
Shin-Soo Choo was another Texas Rangers Comeback Player of the year that was right up there with Fielder. Like Moreland Choo spent a lot of time injured or fighting injuries during the 2014 season. After he hurt his foot last season he didn’t bat the same or play left-field the same. That same funk he was in to end the 2014 season stuck with him until the All-star break this season. After that point it was like a switch was flipped. He hit for the cycle against Colorado on July 21. He had a 14-game hit streak and had several streaks of reaching base safely. Overall to end the second half of the season he reached base safely in 30 of the last 31 games and 52 of 54 of the last games of the season. He finished the season with a batting line of .276/.375/.463/.838 with 32 doubles and 22 home runs. Around the All-star break he only had a batting line of .221/.305/ .384 /.689. Along with his bat his defense also picked up. He was finally tracking fly balls and appeared to run with ease. He was easily another candidate for the American League Comeback Player of the year.
In my opinion Texas Rangers starting pitcher Colby Lewis should have won the American League Comeback Player of the last year. He bounced back from back surgery when basically most people said he was probably done. That’s easy to say after watching lefty Matt Harrison try to do it with little success. But, that’s a tough comparison considering the two had different injuries and different surgeries. Lewis pitched very well this season and proved to be very durable and healthy. He stayed off the disabled list and managed to post a career best 17 wins. Also, he started a career best 33 games and 204.2 innings. It’s understandable why it name wasn’t in the mix, but to me it is still worth mentioning. One of my favorite games he pitched was his near perfect game. It reminded me of Kevin Costner in the movie ‘For the Love of the Game’
Lastly, Elvis Andrus is another comeback player of the year candidate. Yes, he ended the season with a game that will probably give him nightmares for years. But, overall like Choo he turned his season around at the All-star break. Finally he was playing shortstop like everyone thought he could. He was hitting the ball well and sometimes it left the yard. He had a batting line of .277/.320/ .398/ .718 during the second half with 19 doubles and 4 home runs. He hit a career high total of 7 home runs this season. As far as WAR goes he had a 0.9 dWAR that’s way up from his 2014 rating of -0.4. Overall he increased from 1.0 to 2.3 from 2014.
Overall, the Texas Rangers have at least 5 players that could be considered the American League Comeback Player of the year. It’s easy to say they are the Comeback team of the year. They went from worst to first and took one of the best teams in baseball to the final game in the American League Division Series. If it wasn’t for a bad inning they could have been in the World Series. I’m proud of these guys and I know they played their hearts out. I’m looking forward to the 2016 season.
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