|photo courtesy of mlbplayers.com|
per the website, this award is described as for those who have overcome adversity and
returned to the diamond in excellent form throughout the 2018 season. players in their respective leagues cast their ballots for the Comeback Player of the Year Award in mid-September, courtesy of the accounting firm KPMG. the winner will receive a $20,000 grant from the Major League Baseball Players Trust to direct to the charity of their choice, as stated in the press release. the players who come in second and third place will get a grant of $10,000 and $5,000, respectively.
Comeback Player of the Year originated in 1992 and was the first award distributed in the inaugural Players Choice Awards, with Dennis Eckersley and Barry Bonds being the first two receive the honor.
this season, Michael made a triumphant return to baseball after having offseason right ankle surgery for a deltoid ligament sprain and ankle synovitis that ultimately limited him to 90 games in 2017. not to mention, Michael was also kept out of action for all but 11 games in 2016 when his chronic right biceps tendinitis required a season-ending biceps tenodesis procedure. and that was after having had offseason surgery in 2015 for a torn labrum! so he's been on the comeback trail for a while and this is the year he finally did it!
Michael played in 143 games this year. in total, he had 176 hits, 55 extra base hits, 121 singles, 36 doubles, 2 triples, 17 home runs (2 grand slams), 76 RBI, 6 sac flies, 89 runs, 48 walks, 5 hit by pitches, 12 stolen bases (11 - 2nd, 1 - 3rd), 3 caught stealing (2 - 2nd, 1 - 3rd), 7 reached on fielder's choice, 2 reached on forceout, 4 reached on fielding error, 1 reached on throwing error, 1 reached on catcher interference, 1 reached on passed ball, 1 sac bunt, 15 GIDP, 60 strikeouts (46 swinging, 14 looking), 40 first at bat hits, 267 total bases, and 204 left on base in 631 plate appearances and 570 at bats. that all gave him a .309 batting average, .364 OBP, .468 SLG, and .832 OPS.
Michael also played 1136.1 innings in left field in parts of 134 games. he recorded 221 putouts, acquired 6 assists, committed 1 error, and turned 2 double plays. he finished the year with a .996 fielding percentage as well.
a few other fun facts from Michael's season are that his .309 batting average was the highest on his Indians team and ranked 5th overall in the American League among qualifying players. his 3.5 WAR ranked 2nd among 10 qualifying American League left fielders in 2018, per fangraphs.com. he had a team-high 19-game hitting streak in May and was named to the All Star team in July for the third time in his career. in addition, Michael hit not just his first career grand slam this year, but also his second, both in May, and he hit two walk-off RBI singles, one in August and one in September, during his 2018 campaign.
i'm not really sure how you can compare a position player's return to a pitcher's, but let me just add a few quick things in here, too, about the other Comeback Player nominees.
Jackson signed with Oakland on June 6 after being released by the Washington Nationals. he pitched in 17 games this year and finished with a 3.33 ERA in 92.0 innings and 6-3 record. he allowed 75 hits and 37 runs, gave up 12 home runs, walked 37, and struck out 68. there's no doubt that his performance contributed to the A's nabbing a Wild Card spot.
Price was coming back this year from an elbow injury last year. he pitched in 30 games, compiling a 3.58 ERA and 16-7 record. in 176.0 innings, Price surrendered 151 hits, 25 homers, and 75 runs, but he also totaled 177 strikeouts compared to 50 walks. he clearly helped lead the Red Sox to the AL East pennant, and they are currently battling it out with the Houston Astros in the American League Championship Series.
so congratulations to Michael on being a Comeback Player of the Year finalist! i've been talking about him being a possibility for this award now for months so i'll be shocked if he doesn't win it. he absolutely busted his ass to make a comeback, not only this year, but in his previous two seasons as well. this most recent was just the only one that worked out and i think he should be rewarded for it.🥇
the winner of this award and all other 2018 Players Choice Awards will be revealed on Tuesday, November 27, in the evening. i will then post a follow-up blog to this after the winner is publicized. good luck, Michael!🤞
(for the record--Sporting News disclosed their Comeback Players of the Year today and, unfortunately, Michael received votes, but finished in 3rd place, losing the AL award to Price. ballots were cast for this award in early September by the players. if this result is any indication, then maybe Michael won't win the Players Choice's award after all.😞 i have more details in my Brantley Finishes 3rd For Sporting News' 2018 AL Comeback Player of the Year Award blog.)
keep following me on twitter @clevelandgirl23 in the meantime for all the latest and breaking news about Michael, such as if the Indians offer him a one year, $17.9 million qualifying offer and if he accepts it. i'm also still doing my #CelebratingMichaelBrantley series. i decided to keep posting a highlight from Michael's career every Monday until the 2018 postseason wraps up. click the hashtag and read through the thread if you missed anything i posted during the year and feel free to add your own favorite memories from Michael's time as an Indian!🎉
don't forget, i have a subscription list you can join if you like. just enter your email address in the box underneath the Blog Archive sidebar over on the upper right side of this page and you will receive notifications sent directly to your inbox every time a new post goes live!📧