Last season, after a year spent on the DL, White Sox DH Jim Thome hit 42 HRs, 109 RBIs and a .288 AVG on his way to the comeback player of the year award.
This season, Thome won’t take anybody by surprise. But here’s a list of players who are top candidates for 2007 Comeback Player of the Year:
1. Sammy Sosa Slammin’ Sammy is back from baseball purgatory. He spent a year sitting on his duff in his native Dominican, after a couple of seasons with the Orioles that saw him completely implode as a hitter and a Congressional hearing that took a lot of the shine off his formerly glowing image. Now he’s on the Rangers and spent most of spring training absolutely tearing the cover off the ball. If Sosa can keep it up, he’s the logical choice for the CPOYA, but then again voters might find it hard to vote for a guy who forgot how to speak English when asked about steroid use and who, not so long ago, got caught with a corked bat.
2. Garrett Anderson One of the most liked players in the game, Anderson didn’t live up to expectations the last few seasons due to injury. This is a guy who hit 235, 28, 29, and 29 homers between 2000-2003. The last three years he’s hit 14, 17 and 17. That’s not awful, but it’s not what we cam to expect from Anderson. This year, Anderson says he is finally healthy. He’s only 34, so he should still have gas left in the tank. If his injuries really are a thing of the past, he could be primed for a big year.
3. Dmitri Young This guy has nowhere to go but up, after getting cut by the Tigers last season, then entering rehab following a domestic violence incident. Now he’s playing first base for the Nationals, which might be an even bigger challenge than quitting drinking. But don’t underestimate him. He can hit. In 2003, he hit 29 HR, 85 RBI and .297 AVG with the Tigers. You don’t luck your way into those numbers. And he was probably drunk. Imagine what he will do sober.
4. Wade Miller It seems like forever ago that the Astros were planning their future around Miller and Roy Oswalt. Miller won 16, 15 and 14 games from 2001-2003. But the last few seasons, he just couldn’t stay healthy. Now he’s earned a spot as the Cubs fifth starter. A return to form could be the difference between the Cubs finishing in first or last.
5. Mark Prior and Kerry Wood Stranger things have happened, but one is scheduled to open the season in the minors and one will start on the DL, so don’t hold your breath.