Salvador Perez, Daniel Bard win 2020 MLB Comeback Player of the Year Awards

December 10th, 2020

Catcher Salvador Perez of the Kansas City Royals and right-handed pitcher Daniel Bard of the Colorado Rockies have been named the recipients of the 2020 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).

Perez, who missed the entire 2019 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, returned to the field in 2020 and hit a career-best .333 with 11 homers and 32 RBI over 37 games played. The 30-year-old added 12 doubles, 22 runs scored, 17 walks and one stolen base while recording a .353 on-base percentage and a career-high .633 slugging percentage, which was the second-highest in franchise history behind only Hall of Famer George Brett, who amassed a .664 slugging percentage during his AL MVP Award-winning season in 1980. The 11 home runs hit by Perez led the Club and were tied for third-most by a player who played in 37 games-or-fewer, trailing only Hall of Famers Frank Thomas (12 in 34 games) in 2005 and Ted Williams (13 in 37 games) in 1953. Additionally, the Valencia, Venezuela native paced the Royals with eight go-ahead RBI and finished second on the team in RBI and extra-base hits (23). The six-time All-Star, who was an All-MLB First Team selection, recorded multiple hits, including an extra-base hit, in six consecutive games from September 11th-18th. He became the second player in Royals history to accomplish the feat, joining Brett (July 1990), and third catcher in the Modern Era (since 1900) to do so, joining Smoky Burgess (April/May 1959) and Jimmie Foxx (August 1940). Perez, a five-time Rawlings Gold Glove Award winner, did not commit an error on the season and has now gone 153 consecutive errorless games behind the plate dating back to September 3, 2017. The 2015 World Series Most Valuable Player is the second Royals player to claim the AL Comeback Player of the Year Award, joining former teammate Mike Moustakas (2017).

Bard returned to the Majors in 2020 after not pitching in the big leagues for over seven years. Following his 2013 release from the Boston Red Sox, who had drafted the University of North Carolina product in the first round of the 2006 Draft, Bard battled control issues and mechanical adjustments during a series of Minor League stints before retiring from Baseball in 2017. Following two seasons as a player mentor in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization, the 35-year-old signed a Minor League contract with the Rockies in February before making Colorado’s Opening Day roster. In 23 appearances, including 14 scoreless, Bard went 4-2 with six saves and a 3.65 ERA, permitting 10 runs on 22 hits over 24.2 innings pitched with 27 strikeouts and 10 walks. Bard made his season debut on July 25th at Texas, his first appearance since April 27, 2013 with Boston. He tossed 1.1 scoreless innings and earned the victory, which marked his first win since May 29, 2012. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Bard’s gap of seven years and 89 days between Major League appearances was the sixth-longest for a pitcher in the Divisional Era (since 1969), and the third-longest over the last 30 years. His six saves on the season were a career-best and tied for eighth-most in the NL. Bard was the only pitcher in the NL with at least five saves to convert each of his save opportunities, and he inherited seven runners on the season and did not allow any to score. He picked up his first save of the season, and just the sixth of his career, on August 11th, marking his first since June 5, 2011 vs. Oakland. Daniel is the second Rockies player to be named the NL Comeback Player of the Year, joining Greg Holland (2017).

Previous winners of the Awards include:

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