Major League Baseball announced two 2022 Returning Player of the Year winners Tuesday night: Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League and Justin Verlander of the Houston Astros in the American League.
The award is presented annually to a player in each league who has been successful in the season in question despite encountering obstacles of some kind. As for Verlander, he missed the entire 2021 season due to Tommy John surgery. After the main procedure and at the age of 39, Verlander became 18–4 World Series champion with an MLB-best ERA of 1.75 and a K/BB ratio of 6.38. Days before Verlander was named 2022 Comeback Player of the Year, he won. He is now one of the most coveted players in the free agent market and will join the rare class of hurlers in their 40s.
Other AL players who received Returning Player of the Year votes in 2022 include Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels, infielder/outfielder Matt Carpenter of the New York Yankees, and third baseman Alex Bregman of the Astros.
Speaking of flourishing in his 40s, Pujols, who has been the primary DH for the NL Central-winning Cardinals this season, has had a resurgence like no other in 2022. At the age of 42, he was released by the lowly Angels midway through the 2021 season. , Pujols this year created the last season for ages: .270/0.345/0.550 (154) with 24 home runs for just 307 balls. Among those 24 home runs was a career No. 700 homer. Although there is little doubt that Pujols could continue producing in a proper role, he chose to retire instead. In about five years, he will be elected to the Hall of Fame on the first ballot.
Other NL players who received Returning Player of the Year votes in 2022 include outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. of the Atlanta Braves, pitcher Mark Appel of the Philadelphia Phillies feeding David Robertson of the Phillies, infielder Brandon Drury of the Sun -Diego Padres, pitcher Nick Martinez. of the Padres and reliever Ryan Helsley of the Cardinals.