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Two of baseball’s biggest names have had huge bounce-back seasons in 2022.
St. Louis Cardinals great Albert Pujols and Houston Astros ace Justin J. Verlander was named Comeback Player of the Year in the National League and the American League, respectively.
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Pujols, 42, becomes third Cardinals player to win comeback player of the year award, joining Chris Carpenter in 2009 and won it in 2011.
The 22-year veteran returns to the Cardinals for the 2022 campaign, his first MLB debut , and managed to turn back the clock with one of his best performances in years.
Pujols cut .270/.345/. Hit 550 in 109 games with 24 homers and 68 RBIs. He became just the fourth player in history to hit 700 home runs, joining Hank Aaron, Barry Bonds and Babe Ruth.
Pujols’ 24 home runs were his most in a single season since scoring 31 as a member of the Los Angeles Angels in 2016. Additionally, his .550 slugging percentage is the best since .596 in 2010, while his .895 OPS is the best since he posted .906 OPS in 2011. The 2012 Angels. In his first tenure in St. Louis, he won Rookie of the Year, three MVP Awards, six Silver Slugger Awards, two Gold Gloves, a batting title and two World Series titles.
After signing with the Angels, Pujols is still effective, but with the accumulation of injuries, his performance is far from the first half of his career up. The Angels traded him to the Dodgers during the 2021 campaign.
Pujols announced ahead of the 2022 campaign that he will retire after the season.
As for Verlander, the award follows his third Cy Young and second World Series title . He was the first Astros player to win the Comeback Player of the Year award.
Verlander played just six innings in 2020 and missed the entire 2021 campaign after undergoing Tommy John surgery. There were questions about how he would fare in 2022, but he came back and had the best season of his career.
At age 39, he posted a 1.75 ERA, 0.83 WHIP in 175 innings in 28 starts and 185 strikeouts. He has the lowest ERA of any AL pitcher in a non-pandemic-shortened season since Pedro Martinez in 2000.
Verlander intends to return in 2023, but he is currently a free agent and it is unclear if he will return to Houston .