While awards season is technically over in Major League Baseball, one major one still loomed. That award was the American League and National League Comeback Player of the Year awards. The winners were announced on November 22, and the recipients were two men who will most likely be headed to Cooperstown in the near future.
In the American League, Astros pitcher and current free agent Justin Verlander is the recipient of the 2022 AL Comeback Player of the Year award.
Verlander threw just one inning of baseball between 2020-2021, thanks to Tommy John surgery. The future Hall of Famer came back with a vengeance this past season, going 18-4 for the World Series champion Houston Astros. Verlander led all of MLB in ERA (1.75), ERA+ (220), and WHIP (0.83).
The AL Comeback Player of the Year award was not the only accolade Verlander received after the 2022 season. Justin Verlander also won his third Cy Young award on November 16.
In the National League, another future Hall of Famer won the Comeback Player of the Year award: Albert Pujols.
After signing with the Cardinals in Spring Training for his final season, Pujols struggled for a good portion of the first half of 2022. The second half, though, was a different story.
Pujols hit 18 home runs in the second half, tying Anthony Santander of the Orioles for second place during that span. Pujols also batted .313 in from July 21 onward for the NL Central champion St. Louis Cardinals.
Pujols is not the only player to win the NL Comeback Player of the Year award winner in his final season. Last season, Giants catcher Buster Posey won the award after opting out of the 2020 COVID-shortened season.