Miami Marlins third baseman Casey McGehee and Seattle Mariners pitcher Chris Young have been named the recipients of the 2014 National League and American League Comeback Player of the Year Awards, respectively, Major League Baseball announced today. The Comeback Player of the Year Awards are officially sanctioned by Major League Baseball and presented annually to one player in each League who has re-emerged on the field during the season. The 30 Club beat reporters from MLB.com, the official web site of Major League Baseball, selected the winners from an original list of 30 candidates (one per MLB Club).
In his first year with the Marlins following a season with the Rakuten Golden Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball, McGehee batted .287 with 29 doubles, four home runs, 76 RBI and 56 runs scored. His 177 hits ranked fourth in the NL and set a new career high, eclipsing his previous best of 174 in 2010. Among NL third basemen, the California native was first in hits, RBI and fielding percentage (.979); was tied for first in multi-hit games (49); and ranked second in walks (67), batting average and on-base percentage (.355). His 76 RBI were the most in Marlins history for a player with four-or-fewer home runs, besting the previous mark held by Edgar Renteria, when he had four home runs and 52 RBI in 1997 en route to a World Series Championship. In addition, his RBI total was the highest in the Majors by any player with four-or-fewer home runs since Willie McGee recorded three home runs and 77 RBI in 1990, when he was the NL Batting Champion. McGehee reached base safely in 31 consecutive games from June 4th-July 7th, tied for the fifth-longest streak in the NL in 2014, and representing the longest such streak of his career (previously 14 straight from April 10-27, 2011). The 31-year-old had 115 hits during the first half of the season, tied with 2013 NL Most Valuable Player Andrew McCutchen for the most in the NL. Along with teammate Giancarlo Stanton (104 hits), the pair became the first Marlins teammates to post 100 hits prior to the All-Star break since Hanley Ramirez and Jorge Cantu in 2008.
Young went 12-9 with a 3.65 ERA over 30 games (29 starts) in his first season with Seattle following an injury-plagued 2013 season in which he made nine Minor League starts. In 165.0 innings pitched in 2014, the right-hander permitted 70 runs (67 earned) on 143 hits with 60 walks and 108 strikeouts while holding opposing hitters to a .234 batting average, which ranked eighth in the AL. The 35-year-old recorded double-digits in wins for the first time since 2006 (11 wins with San Diego), and his 165.0 innings pitched were his third-most in a single season behind 2006 (179.1) and 2007 (173.0). The six-foot, 10-inch Princeton University product, who was named Ivy League Basketball Player of the Year as a freshman, tied for the Major League lead with eight starts allowing three-or-fewer hits in at least 6.0 innings pitched (also Jake Odorizzi, Clayton Kershaw, Johnny Cueto, Madison Bumgarner). The Texas native recorded his first victory of the season on April 29th in New York against the Yankees, marking his first Major League victory since September 9, 2012 with the New York Mets at Miami, a span of 594 days between victories. The 2007 NL All-Star went eight years between 12-win seasons (12-7 in 2005 with Texas), tied for the fourth-longest span in history between 12-win seasons and the longest since a 12-year span by Danny Darwin (1980-1993). In 14 starts at Safeco Field, Young went 8-4 with a 2.40 ERA, yielding just 23 earned runs over 86.1 innings pitched. Overall, the Mariners went 17-12 in his 29 starts.
Past winners of the Award include: Jason Giambi and Ken Griffey, Jr. (2005); Jim Thome and Nomar Garciaparra (2006); Carlos Peña and Dmitri Young (2007); Cliff Lee and Brad Lidge (2008); Aaron Hill and Chris Carpenter (2009); Francisco Liriano and Tim Hudson (2010); Jacoby Ellsbury and Lance Berkman (2011); Fernando Rodney and Buster Posey (2012); and Liriano and Mariano Rivera (2013).
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