The award comes with mixed distinction, but it is an honorable award nonetheless. Major League Baseball has named the 2014 Comeback Players of the Year, and MLB.com's Paul Hagan announced Friday night that the honors go to pitcher Chris Young of the Seattle Mariners in the American League and third baseman Casey McGehee of the Miami Marlins in the National League.
The award means something negative and then something very positive happened over a two-year span or longer. One possibility is that a player spent much of -- or an entire season -- on the disabled list because of injury. Such is the case for Young. He missed all of 2013 recovering from injuries that had hampered his career and performance for the past few years, including shoulder surgery in May of 2011. He made just 20 starts in 2012 and compiled a 4-5 record with a 4.15 ERA and 1.35 WHIP for the New York Mets one season after a very good start to 2011 until his shoulder injury.
At age 34 when the 2014 season started, Young came back with a flourish to help keep the Mariners in the A.L. Wild Card race until the season's final few days. Young made 29 starts and one relief appearance. He finished the campaign at 12-9 with a 3.65 ERA, a 1.23 WHIP, and a 1.9 WAR. This performance followed a quick signing on March 27 after his release from the Washington Nationals just two days before. Hagan described the signing as one the Mariners made "because they were in need of a fifth starter, and the move quickly paid big dividends."
Young, age 35, is now a costless agent.
In McGehee's case, the award means reemergence as a Major-Leaguer after missing a season due to playing elsewhere. McGehee played his 2013 season for the Rakuten Golden Eagles of Japan's Pacific League, where he played as a teammate of Masahiro Tanaka. He had a strong season at .292, 28 HR, and 93 RBI in 144 games. This followed a very disappointing 2012 with the Pittsburgh Pirates and New York Yankees.
The Marlins considered McGehee ready to return the Majors and signed him to a two-year contract last December. Teammate Giancarlo Stanton rightfully garners the Marlins' headlines, but McGehee contributed plenty himself. McGehee hit .287 in 160 games, 158 of them at third base. He hit only four home runs, but he drove in 76 runs. He hit .319 with 67 RBI with runners in scoring position, which ranks him right at the top with Stanton on the team and tied for 11th in the National League.
McGehee is eligible for salary arbitration for the second time, and he will look to cash in on a nice raise from the $1.1-million salary he made in 2014.