November 28th, 2023

Right-handed pitcher Liam Hendriks and outfielder/first baseman Cody Bellinger have been named the recipients of the 2023 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 winners were determined following a vote by the 30 Club beat reporters from, the official website of Major League Baseball.

Hendriks, who announced in January that he had been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, returned to the field for his third season with the Chicago White Sox on May 29th after receiving treatment.  Prior to his return, the three-time All-Star announced in late April that he was cancer-free.  The Perth, Australia native, who launched a campaign inviting fans to purchase specially designed “Close Out Cancer” t-shirts with proceeds benefitting the Lymphoma Research Foundation (LRF), was the recipient of the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance at ESPN’s annual ESPY Awards in July.  The 34-year-old appeared in five contests for the White Sox and earned two victories with one save before returning to the Injured List with elbow inflammation in mid-June.  The two-time Mariano Rivera AL Reliever of the Year Award winner missed the remainder of the season after eventually undergoing Tommy John surgery.  Hendriks entered 2023 coming off back-to-back All-Star campaigns in which he collected 38 saves in 2021 and 37 saves in 2022.  His 16.14 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 2021 ranks as the highest in Major League history for a single season with at least 100 strikeouts.

In his first season with the Chicago Cubs, Bellinger hit .307 with 26 homers, 97 RBI, 29 doubles, 153 hits, 95 runs scored and an .881 OPS, reaching the totals in each category for the first time since his 2019 NL MVP Award-winning season with the Los Angeles Dodgers.  Across 130 games played, the 2017 Jackie Robinson NL Rookie of the Year Award winner also swiped a career-best 20 stolen bases and reached the 20-homer, 20-stolen base plateau for the first time in his career, becoming the seventh Cubs player to do so.  The Arizona native was one of three players across all of Baseball to hit at least .305 with 25 homers and 20 stolen bases, joining NL MVP Award winner Ronald Acuña Jr. of the Atlanta Braves and Freddie Freeman of the Los Angeles Dodgers.  The 2013 fourth round draft selection led all Major Leaguers with 75 RBI from July 1st through the end of the season, including a 53-game stretch with 55 RBI from July 1st-August 30th.  Bellinger spent his first six Major League seasons with the Dodgers and reached 100 career homers in just 401 games, marking the third-fastest in Major League history to reach the milestone.

Other players who received votes for AL Comeback Player of the Year included pitcher Tyler Glasnow of the Tampa Bay Rays (10-7, 3.53 ERA, 21 GS, 120.0 IP, 37 BB, 162 SO), who was limited to just two starts in 2022 while working his way back from Tommy John surgery; first baseman/outfielder Ryan O’Hearn of the Baltimore Orioles (.289, 14 HR, 60 RBI, 22 2B, 48 R, .801 OPS), who set career-bests in games, runs, hits, doubles and RBI in his first year with the O’s after appearing in just 67 games with Kansas City in 2022; and pitcher Chris Sale of the Boston Red Sox (6-5, 4.30 ERA, 20 GS, 102.2 IP, 29 BB, 125 SO), who had been limited by injuries to just 11 starts total over the previous three seasons.

Other players who received votes for NL Comeback Player of the Year included first baseman Bryce Harper of the Philadelphia Phillies (.293, 21 HR, 72 RBI, 29 2B, 84 R, 11 SB, .900 OPS), who underwent Tommy John surgery in the off-season and returned to the field just 160 days after the procedure, marking the fastest such return on record; second baseman Ozzie Albies of the Braves (.280, 33 HR, 109 RBI, 30 2B, 5 3B, 96 R, 13 SB, .849 OPS, All-Star selection), who was limited by injuries to just 64 games in 2022; outfielder Jason Heyward of the Dodgers (.269, 15 HR, 40 RBI, 23 2B, 56 R, .813 OPS), who was limited to just 48 games in 2022 and reached totals in a number of offensive categories not seen since his 2019 season; outfielder Michael Conforto of the San Francisco Giants (.239, 15 HR, 58 RBI, 14 2B, 58 R, .718 OPS), who played in 125 games during his first season with the Giants after missing the entire 2022 season while recovering from shoulder surgery; and designated hitter/outfielder Jorge Soler of the Miami Marlins (.250, 36 HR, 75 RBI, 24 2B, 77 R, .853 OPS, All-Star selection), who was limited to 72 games in 2022 after missing the final 67 games of the season with a back injury.

Previous winners of the Comeback Player of the Year Awards include:

Year     American League               National League
2005    Jason Giambi, NYY            Ken Griffey Jr., CIN
2006    Jim Thome, CWS               Nomar Garciaparra, LAD
2007    Carlos Peña, TB                Dmitri Young, WSH
2008    Cliff Lee, CLE                    Brad Lidge, PHI
2009     Aaron Hill, TOR                Chris Carpenter, STL
2010    Francisco Liriano, MIN      Tim Hudson, ATL
2011    Jacoby Ellsbury, BOS        Lance Berkman, STL
2012    Fernando Rodney, TB       Buster Posey, SF
2013    Mariano Rivera, NYY        Francisco Liriano, PIT
2014    Chris Young, SEA             Casey McGehee, MIA
2015    Prince Fielder, TEX           Matt Harvey, NYM
2016    Rick Porcello, BOS           Anthony Rendon, WSH
2017    Mike Moustakas, KC        Greg Holland, COL
2018    David Price, BOS             Jonny Venters, ATL
2019    Carlos Carrasco, CLE      Josh Donaldson, ATL
2020    Salvador Perez, KC         Daniel Bard, COL
2021    Trey Mancini, BAL           Buster Posey, SF
2022    Justin Verlander, HOU     Albert Pujols, STL