Right-handed pitcher Carlos Carrasco of the Cleveland Indians and third baseman Josh Donaldson, who starred for the Atlanta Braves in 2019, have been named the recipients of the 2019 American League and National 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 have been presented annually since 2005 to one player in each League who has re-emerged on the field during the season. The 30 Club beat reporters from MLB.com, the official web site of Major League Baseball, selected the winners from an original list of 30 candidates (one per MLB Club).
Carrasco, who was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia in early June, missed three months of the 2019 regular season after making his final start on May 30th at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago. Following treatments, the 2019 Roberto Clemente Award winner began a rehabilitation assignment at Double-A Akron on August 19th and made four relief appearances combined between Akron and Triple-A Columbus. The 32-year-old native of Venezuela returned to the active Major League roster on September 1st and tossed an inning of relief at Tampa Bay. The 10-year veteran made 11 relief appearances overall during his September comeback, highlighted by a 2.2-scoreless-inning outing at home on September 22nd against Philadelphia in which he allowed one hit with three strikeouts en route to his sixth victory of the season. Carlos is the second Indians player to claim the AL Comeback Player of the Year Award, joining left-handed pitcher Cliff Lee (2008).
Limited by injury to just 52 games in 2018, including 36 with the Toronto Blue Jays and 16 with the Indians, Donaldson returned to form in 2019 with the Braves. The 33-year-old slugger collected 37 home runs and 94 RBI with 33 doubles, 96 runs scored and 100 walks over 155 games played. Donaldson’s 37 home runs, which tied for the second-highest total of his career (also 2016), trailed only his 2015 AL MVP campaign in which he collected 41 round-trippers. In addition, the 37 homers were the fifth-most by a player in his first season for the Braves in franchise history behind Andres Galarraga (44 in 1998), Davey Johnson (43 in 1973), Jeff Burroughs (41 in 1977) and Wally Berger (38 in 1930). His home run total also ranked fourth for a single season in the Atlanta-era for third basemen behind only Hall of Famer Chipper Jones (45 in 1999 and 38 in 2001) and Darrell Evans (41 in 1973). The Florida native became one of only seven players in Braves history to compile at least 100 walks in a single season, and the first since Jones had 101 walks in 2009. In his ninth Major League season, the Auburn University product recorded his 200th career home run on July 7th at home against the Miami Marlins. Josh is the third Braves player overall, and second consecutive player, to win the NL Comeback Player of the Year Award, joining right-handed pitcher Tim Hudson (2010) and left-handed pitcher Jonny Venters (2018).