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No Bartolo?! Lance Berkman, Jacoby Ellsbury win Comeback Player of the Year awards

Oct 13, 2011, 11:06 AM EDT

Bartolo Colon Getty Images

Major League Baseball just announced that Lance Berkman and Jacoby Ellsbury have won the Comeback Player of the Year Awards.  Obviously they both had great years after (a) a lost year for Ellsbury due to injury; and (b) a mostly lost year for Berkman which, due to a trade that didn’t work out well and general ineffectiveness, had people thinking his career was over or at least in steep decline. Instead, each of them will get a lot of MVP votes this year.

But I can’t say I agree with the pick of Ellsbury.  The award, voted on by the MLB.com beat writers, is “presented annually to one player in each League who has re-emerged on the baseball field during the season.”  Yes, Ellsbury re-emerged after a season on the disabled list.  But Bartolo Colon re-emrged from the freaking dead, didn’t he? I’m rather shocked he didn’t win.

It’s not about who had the better season. Ellsbury obviously did. But with his age and his pre-injury track record, it shouldn’t be at all surprising that Ellsbury was productive this year. Indeed, it would have been a bigger story if, at age 27, he had yet another injury-marred season and was nearing the end of his career.  That he bounced back with health is awesome — and that he performed at such a high level is surprising — but is his story one of a promising player having a breakout year or the story of a true comeback?

Meanwhile, yes, Colon’s second half fade and injuries certainly put a damper on the enthusiasm for his comeback.  But what a freaking comeback it was! Given his age, conditioning, the nature of his injury and the fact that he dropped off the face of the Earth for the 2010 season, I’d say that it was more likely that we’d see him elected Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Puerto Rico than we would to see him in the rotation of a playoff contender, let alone an effective member of that rotation for much of the year.

No, this isn’t important. Yes, it’s totally subjective. But they pay me to argue about unimportant and subjective crap all the time, so here we are.  And I can’t shake the notion that while Jacoby Ellsbury came back nicely, Bartolo Colon was more or less resurrected. Shoulda been him.

  1. scottj27 - Oct 13, 2011 at 11:13 AM

    Berkman’s the bigger tragedy. A Phillie shoulda won.

    • kopy - Oct 13, 2011 at 11:46 AM

      Or Sean Burroughs. His numbers weren’t spectacular this year, but his comeback was greater.

  2. Old Gator - Oct 13, 2011 at 11:17 AM

    I know Bartolo went home after the ALDS. Did he come back?

  3. tomemos - Oct 13, 2011 at 11:21 AM

    No Vogelsong??

    • thefalcon123 - Oct 13, 2011 at 11:32 AM

      Vogelson didn’t “come back”, he just came! (not in that way…get your mind out of the gutter). 2011 was the first season since 6 innings in his rookie year that he posted a positive WAR.

      Vogelson would be 2011 Dude Who Sucked But No Longer Sucks Award winner.

      • dlevalley - Oct 13, 2011 at 1:44 PM

        Ya, I agree. I’d really like Vogelsong to win some award for his performance this year* but it’s not like he previously ever performed at any level worth returning to. He went from unpitchable in AAA for almost a decade to lights-out in the majors.

        *And really, shouldn’t we have an award for what he did? Call it the “Ryan Vogelsong? THAT Ryan Vogelsong?!” award, and give it to any player that in one season exceeds the combined WAR of their performances over the last decade.

  4. Chris St. John - Oct 13, 2011 at 11:22 AM

    Just throwing this out there: What about Matt Kemp?

    • skipperxc - Oct 13, 2011 at 12:01 PM

      See: Ellsbury, Jacoby

  5. yankeesfanlen - Oct 13, 2011 at 11:25 AM

    Lance Berkman went out of his way in 2010 to earn this prestgious award!

  6. lembeck4 - Oct 13, 2011 at 11:35 AM

    Yet another Calcaterra story lamenting that a Yankee didn’t win an award….shocking.

    • kopy - Oct 13, 2011 at 11:36 AM

      lol omg i kno rite?!?!

    • Craig Calcaterra - Oct 13, 2011 at 11:37 AM

      Yes. Because I clearly have such a pro-Yankees bias. It’s well-demonstrated over the course of my life and career.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Oct 13, 2011 at 11:47 AM

        Craig, doesn’t this kinda sorta make you miss the “You are a stinkin’ Braves fan” banter you would lovingly receive from us Phillies fans?

      • lembeck4 - Oct 13, 2011 at 12:00 PM

        Not an expert on your life and career, but if you say so. First it was moaning Mariano didn’t get any votes for the relief pitching award, now Bartolo, anxiously awaiting your unbiased piece about the AL MVP after Cano and Granderson don’t win.

      • uberfatty - Oct 13, 2011 at 12:07 PM

        Isn’t bias when you put the blinders on and argue for something that clearly is incorrect?

        Lembeck, if you have an argument as to why Mariano should not have been considered, or why Bartolo should not have won the award, by all means enlighten us. Otherwise, you are just making rational arguments sound like bias. And based on Craig’s track record, the impression is that you have only read two of his blog posts.

      • tomemos - Oct 13, 2011 at 12:53 PM

        “Not an expert on your life and career…”

        But enough of an expert to make an accusation of bias, naturally! I seriously thought you were being sarcastic in your first comment.

        So you suggest a Yankee once, that’s fine; suggest a second Yankee and it’s “yet another story”? You are not a patient man, sir.

      • lembeck4 - Oct 13, 2011 at 4:08 PM

        Wow, I feel like a celebrity…..my apologies for all those with thumbs up/down confusion related to my comments. I’ve been visiting the site for about a month, read probably about 50% of the stories posted each day on average. Just seemed to me like Craig had himself a case of the poor Yankees didn’t win something syndrome, but based on the multitude of comments it sounds like I read too much into that. My apologies. It does irk me in general however when someone writes a story about the winner(s) of an award and focuses instead on who didn’t win, just a personal pet peeve, seems like sour grapes in some cases. That, and I hate the Yankees and everything about them, with a passion. So there’s that.

        I hope I didn’t hurt your feelings Craig.

    • cktai - Oct 13, 2011 at 12:07 PM

      Yeah like that time he eh…. Actually I cannot for the world remember when Craig lamented about a Yankee not winning an award. Usually its about Yankees winning awards they don’t deserve. And when I say Yankee, I mean Jeter. And when I say awards I mean golden gloves.

    • tomemos - Oct 13, 2011 at 12:57 PM

      I really love the implication that it’s biased to suggest that *the Yankees have good players.* The Yankees *do* have good players, remember? That’s why everyone hates them.

    • paperlions - Oct 13, 2011 at 1:04 PM

      Dang, I gave lemby a thumbs up figuring that it was well played sarcasm….only to see in his next post that, no, not sarcasm, just…..well….just….I’ll leave it at that.

    • dlevalley - Oct 13, 2011 at 1:45 PM

      Hmm. Gave lembeck a thumbs up because I thought this was sarcastic. Turns out he’s serious. Can I take it back?

      • cur68 - Oct 13, 2011 at 2:26 PM

        See, now this is why I leave those idiot thumbs alone. No takesies backsies when the guy you just gave a nod to turns out to be tool. Those “thumb” things have a Yankee bias anyways.

      • Alex K - Oct 13, 2011 at 3:06 PM

        Try clicking on the thumbs down and it should switch it.

      • paperlions - Oct 13, 2011 at 4:15 PM

        Nice! Thanks, AK.

  7. Jack Marshall - Oct 13, 2011 at 11:41 AM

    Craig: 100% on the money. Missing a year due to an injury shouldn’t qualify a young player for a comeback award. Bartolo, heck, even Eric Chavez were more worthy choices.

    • mabunar - Oct 13, 2011 at 12:01 PM

      The same Eric Chavez who only played 58 games and hit 2 HRs???

  8. thinman61 - Oct 13, 2011 at 11:59 AM

    This is unproveable of course, but I have a sneaking suspicion the MLB.com beat writers’ vote has something to do with Ellsbury’s comeback not being tied to “stem cell” injections.

  9. Brian Donohue - Oct 13, 2011 at 12:07 PM

    Craig, there’s an elephant in this room, and it points to that PR-related fear of medicine and invention that sticks to the soft underbelly of our entire culture. Colon had a strange and new and mysterious medical intervention: OMFG, what if SCRT (stem cell replacement therapy) is like PEDS and it’s really evil and we’ve given this award to someone who got a competitive advantage from some horrible Frankensteinian medical procedure? I’ve heard and read whispers of this fear throughout the season, and laughed every time. Because within a decade, players will be going all in for SCRT all the way to the point where Colon becomes another Tommy John — with more identity to his name as a medical procedure than as a former player!!! You’ll be writing blog posts with headlines like: “Jones to undergo Bartolo Colon procedure; will be ready by training camp”.

    But until then, the fear of the new and the pioneering will daunt those whose minds really ought to be a little more active and open…

    • jimbo1949 - Oct 13, 2011 at 12:37 PM

      probably will refer to it as a “Bartolo”, cause referring to a “Colon” might be an embarrassment to some people.

  10. alexb64 - Oct 13, 2011 at 12:49 PM

    Ellsbury? So I take it A-Rod will be eligible for the award next year then.

    • protectthishouse54 - Oct 13, 2011 at 12:59 PM

      Well Buster Posey was out all year, and he’ll probably have pretty good numbers next year. He’s my frontrunner.

  11. fcmlefty1 - Oct 13, 2011 at 3:20 PM

    Berkman played and homered in the playoffs last year. He wasn’t exactly making a comeback from anything this year. Bad choice.

    • cintiphil - Oct 13, 2011 at 4:44 PM

      I don’t think you know much about Berkman’s career do you? He was once a HR hitting, RBI machine who could carry a team through the season and the playoff’s. He was such a menace to some teams that they once pitched around him as do they Albert. Last year was a bad year for him. Just because he hit 1 home run doesn’t mean he didn’t crash and burn compared to his record at Houston. This year, he almost approached the old Berkman, hitting 300 and the HR & RBI thing. This was truly a comeback performance for him.

      • fcmlefty1 - Oct 13, 2011 at 5:31 PM

        I know plenty of Berkmans career, thank you.

        Being on an active playoff roster, and contributing to that team, means that you really didn’t have anything to “comeback” from.

        Having a simply sub par year in 2010, and then rebounding to ones usual standards, is hardly the spirit of what this award should be about, and not really something that should be celebrated. This award should be for somebody who’s really had to persevere.

        And I’ll be saying this next year too when the likely American League winner will be Joe Mauer from my beloved Twins squad. Celebrating in 2012 for his absolute lack of pre-season conditioning in early 2011 should not be tolerated.

  12. cosanostra71 - Oct 13, 2011 at 11:11 PM

    Berkman didn’t have a “subpar” year, he had an awful one.

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