Verlander and Pujols were named the 2022 Comeback Player of the Year Award winners in the American League and National League, respectively, by Major League Baseball.
Verlander is the first Astros player to win Comeback Player of the Year, while Pujols became the third Cardinals player to do so, joining Chris Carpenter (2009) and Lance Berkman (2011). The honor has been given annually by MLB since 2005 to one player in each league "who has re-emerged on the field during the season." The winners are determined following a vote by the 30 club beat reporters from MLB.com.
For Verlander, the latest honor comes less than a week after he won the AL Cy Young Award in unanimous fashion. After being limited to only six innings in 2020 and missing the entire '21 season due to Tommy John surgery, the Astros' ace returned this season to go 18-4 with a 1.75 ERA -- the lowest by any AL pitcher since Pedro Martinez posted a 1.74 ERA in 2000.
The 39-year-old Verlander led the AL in wins, ERA, WHIP (0.83), opponents’ batting average (.186) and opponents’ OPS (.497).
As for the 42-year-old Pujols, he signed with the Cardinals only 10 days before Opening Day and proceeded to turn back the clock in his 22nd and final big league season.
Pujols turned it on down the stretch, crushing 18 second-half homers on his way to becoming the fourth player in AL/NL history to hit 700 career home runs, joining Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth. The only player to hit more home runs than Pujols following the 2022 All-Star break was AL MVP Award winner Aaron Judge (29).
Pujols hit 24 homers, his most since slugging 31 in 2016, and posted an .895 OPS, his highest since 2011 -- when he had a .906 mark in the final season of his first stint with the Cards.
The Comeback Player of the Year Award is the latest on a long list of accomplishments for Pujols, who also won the 2001 NL Rookie of the Year Award, three MVP Awards, six Silver Sluggers, two Gold Gloves and a pair of World Series titles. He was also an 11-time All-Star and won the 2003 NL batting title.
Verlander adds this trophy to a collection that already includes the 2006 AL Rookie of the Year Award, the '11 AL MVP Award, three Cy Young Awards and two World Series titles. A nine-time All-Star, Verlander also earned the AL pitching Triple Crown in 2011 and owns a pair of ERA titles.
The other AL players who received votes for Comeback Player of the Year were Mike Trout (Angels), Matt Carpenter (Yankees) and Alex Bregman (Astros). On the NL side, other players receiving votes included Ronald Acuña Jr. (Braves), Mark Appel (Phillies), David Robertson (Cubs/Phillies), Brandon Drury (Reds/Padres), Nick Martinez (Padres) and Ryan Helsley (Cardinals).