Catcher Buster Posey of the San Francisco Giants and closer Fernando Rodney of the Tampa Bay Rays have been named the recipients of the 2012 National League and American League Comeback Player of the Year Awards, respectively, Major League Baseball announced today. The Comeback Player of the Year Awards are officially sanctioned by Major League Baseball and presented annually to one player in each League who has re-emerged on the field during the season.
In addition, Rodney has been named Major League Baseball’s Delivery Man of the Year, an award that recognizes the most outstanding relief pitcher of the regular season as voted on by a panel from Major League Baseball.
Posey, who played in just 45 games in 2011 after sustaining a season-ending injury on May 25th, captured the National League batting title in 2012 after hitting .336 with a career-best 24 home runs and 103 RBI. The 25-year-old backstop also posted career highs with 39 doubles, 78 runs scored, 69 walks, a .408 on-base percentage and a .549 slugging percentage. In addition to leading the N.L. in hitting, the 2010 N.L. Rookie of the Year ranked among league leaders in on-base percentage (2nd), slugging percentage (4th), RBI (6th), multi-hit games (52, T-6th), total bases (291, T-7th), hits (178, T-8th), doubles (T-8th) and walks (10th).
Posey, who was selected by the Giants with the fifth overall pick in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, was named to his first All-Star Game in 2012 after setting a new N.L. single-season balloting mark with 7,621,370 votes. The Leesburg, Georgia native appeared in 148 games, including 111 starts behind the plate, 29 starts at first base and three starts as the designated hitter. The Florida State University product became the sixth player in franchise history (seventh time) to win a batting title, joining Roger Connor (1885), Jack Glasscock (1890), Larry Doyle (1915), Bill Terry (1930), Willie Mays (1954) and Barry Bonds (2002 and 2004). In addition, Posey becomes the first catcher and the first Giant to win the Comeback Player of the Year Award since the inception of the award in 2005.
In his first year with the Rays, Rodney went 2-2 with 48 saves and a 0.60 ERA in a career-high 76 appearances, one season after going 3-5 with a 4.50 ERA in 39 games for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. In 74.2 innings pitched in 2012, he permitted 43 hits and just five earned runs with 15 walks and a career-best 76 strikeouts. The right-hander’s 0.60 ERA set a Major League record for a relief pitcher with a minimum of 50 innings pitched, eclipsing the previous record of 0.61 (five earned runs in 73.1 innings pitched) set in 1990 by Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley of the Oakland A’s. His 48 saves, which ranked second in the Majors, were a career-best and set a new Tampa Bay club record, surpassing the 45 saves by Rafael Soriano in 2010. In addition, the 35-year-old joined Eckersley (48 saves, 0.61 ERA) in 1990 as the only pitchers in Major League history to post 40 saves and an ERA below 1.00.
Rodney, who was named an All-Star for the first time in his 10-year career, pitched a perfect ninth inning in Kansas City at the Midsummer Classic while also becoming the oldest first-time All-Star in Rays history. The Samana, Dominican Republic native led the Majors with a 96.0 save percentage (48-for-50) and ranked fourth in the A.L. with a .167 (43-for-258) opponents’ batting average. In 42 appearances at home at Tropicana Field, Rodney allowed just two earned runs, posting a 0.44 ERA (41.0 innings pitched), the best among all Major League relievers. Rodney becomes the second Ray to win the Comeback Player of the Year Award, joining Carlos Peña in 2007, and he joins Cliff Lee (A.L., 2008), Brad Lidge (N.L., 2008), Chris Carpenter (N.L., 2009), Francisco Liriano (A.L. 2010) and Tim Hudson (N.L., 2010) as the only pitchers to win the award.
The 30 Club beat reporters from MLB.com, the official web site of Major League Baseball, selected the winners for the 2012 Major League Baseball Comeback Player of the Year Award. Past winners of the Award include: Jason Giambi and Ken Griffey, Jr. (2005); Jim Thome and Nomar Garciaparra (2006); Peña and Dmitri Young (2007); Lee and Lidge (2008); Aaron Hill and Carpenter (2009); Liriano and Hudson (2010); and Jacoby Ellsbury and Lance Berkman (2011).
Other relievers who received votes for the Delivery Man of the Year honors were Atlanta Braves All-Star right-hander Craig Kimbrel (3-1, 1.01 ERA, 42 saves, 62.2 IP, 27 H, 116 SO, 14 BB) and Baltimore Orioles All-Star right-hander Jim Johnson (2-1, 2.49 ERA, Major League-high and Orioles’ record 51 saves, 68.2 IP, 55 H, 41 SO, 15 BB).
The past winners of the Delivery Man of the Year Award are three-time recipient Mariano Rivera (2005-2006 and 2009); Jonathan Papelbon (2007); Lidge (2008); Heath Bell (2010); and Jose Valverde (2011).