Many athletes have down years out of nowhere, especially baseball players. Last season, we saw some big names guys unexpectedly struggle, either due to injury or slumps. Here are some of those players who will have a chance to win American League Comeback Player of the Year in 2017.
AL Comeback Player of the Year Candidates
5. Pablo Sandoval, BOS
The “Kung Fu Panda” showed up to camp overweight and not in baseball shape last season. He recorded only six at-bats before injuring his shoulder and missing the entire season. He is said to have lost significant weight this offseason, and has a much improved work ethic. Sandoval hopes to earn back the starting job at third this spring, and to return to his San Francisco form of old days.
4. James Shields, CWS
“Big Game James”had a 2016 season to forget. Between both the Padres and the White Sox, Shields lost a total of 19 games and had a 5.85 ERA. Shields didn’t use his opt out clause this offseason, so he remains a member of the White Sox. He wont have to do much to improve in 2017, as his 2016 numbers were horrendous. However, an improvement would be huge for the once dominant righty.
3. Garrett Richards, LAA
Richards was one of the bright young starting pitchers during the 2014 season. He was having his best season, a 13-4 record with a 2.61 ERA and 164 strikeouts. The young righty then tore a knee tendon, ending his season early. He recovered and won a total of 15 games in 2015 and had a 3.65 ERA and 176 strikeouts. In just his sixth start in 2016, he tore his UCL and had to get Tommy John surgery. Richards is expected make a full recovery and pitch next season. At 28 years old, Richards still has the ability to be a star in the Angels rotation.
2. Michael Brantley, CLE
In 2016, Brantley played in only 11 games after a shoulder injury. In 2014, he hit .327 with 200 hits, 20 home runs, 97 RBI’s, and 94 runs scored. He followed that up with another solid 2015 season. He hit .310 with 15 home runs, 45 doubles, and 84 RBI’s. If Brantley could return to that form in 2017, he could play a huge role in getting the Indians back to the World Series.
1. Mike Moustakas, KC
Moustakas only appeared in 12 games last season due to a knee injury. In 2015, he was one of the most exciting up and coming stars that helped lead the Royals to a World Series. He hit .284 with 22 home runs and 82 RBI’s. The Royals struggled in 2016, and the absence of Moustakas played a big part. If he returns to his 2015 form, he will run away with Comeback Player of the Year voting.