The Major League Baseball Players Association announced finalists for a bevy of awards on Wednesday. No surprise the KC Royals catcher was included.
One special thing about being nominated for this is that it is voted on by your peers. The winners will be announced on Oct. 22 and Salvador Perez has a good chance to bring this award back to the KC Royals. Despite missing time this year with vision problems, his fellow players realized that he was doing something special after the prolonged layoff.
Perez has had the injury bug bite him in each of the last four years but the damage done to his UCL in 2019 required the Tommy John surgery and cost him the entire season. The prior two years before that he spent time on the Injured List with an intercostal strain (2017) and knee trouble (2018).
While the team and fans knew that he would be a vital part of this year’s squad, the numbers he put up caught everyone by surprise. Showing no lingering effects from not having played in a major league game since September 30, 2018, Perez put up career bests in batting average, slugging, OPS, and OPS+.
The team also responded to having its leader back on the diamond as its winning percentage was just .364 while Perez was hurt. It jumped up to .474 when he was being the field general.
One of two other nominees is Carlos Carrasco of the Cleveland Indians. He was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia last year and did not pitch in June, July, or August. He did return in September in a relief role for the Tribe. Carrasco threw terrifically this year and posted a 2.91 ERA in 12 starts, striking out 82 in just 68 innings pitched.
Jose Ramirez, also of the Indians, is the other finalist. He played in 129 games last year but battled a broken hamate bone and had a large drop in production from the prior two seasons. For 2020, he was a monster with a .292/.386/.607 slash and is an MVP candidate.
The only prior MLBPA Comeback winner for the Royals was Mike Moustakas in 2017. Moose also was named by the Sporting News as their choice for that distinction that year and back in 1987, Bret Saberhagen took home that honor from them.
All three finalists have riveting stories about their battle back to produce great results in 2020. It is nice to see the other players recognize how hard Perez worked to have what could arguably be his best season ever.