NEW YORK (AFP) — Houston Astros pitcher Justin Verlander and St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols were named Major League Baseball’s Comeback Player of the Year award winners on Tuesday.
Verlander, a 39-year-old American right-hander, was a unanimous winner of the American League Cy Young Award last week as best pitcher after helping the Astros win the World Series over Philadelphia.
Pujols, a 42-year-old Dominican legend, turned back the clock in his 22nd and final MLB campaign. He cracked the 700th career home-run barrier to win the National League best comeback award.
Verlander, the 2011 AL Most Valuable Player who also helped Houston capture the 2017 MLB title, became the first Astros player to win the comeback award, while Pujols was the third for St. Louis after Chris Carpenter in 2009 and Lance Berkman in 2011.
After playing only six innings in 2020 and missing all of the 2021 MLB season due to Tommy John tendon replacement surgery, Verlander went 18-4 this year with a 1.75 earned-run average — the lowest by any AL pitcher since Pedro Martinez’s 1.74 ERA in 2000.
Pujols only signed with the Cardinals 10 days before the start of the season, but smacked 24 homers, his most in a season since 31 in 2016, to finish his career with 703 homers, trailing only Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth.
Pujols, an 11-time MLB All-Star, won World Series titles with St. Louis in 2006 and 2011 and won NL Most Valuable Player awards in 2005, 2008 and 2009.