NEW YORK – ace Houston Astros Justin Verlander and St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols won the Return to Baseball Player of the Year award Tuesday night.
Verlander, the American League winner, returned from Tommy John surgery and led Houston to a second World Series championship. He had the lowest ERA in the majors and was the unanimous winner of his third Cy Young Award, becoming the first player to win the prize after not pitching the previous season.
The National League-winning Pujols returned to St. Louis for his farewell season and, at age 42, posted his highest performance in years. The three-time MVP hit .895 OPS for the NL Central champions to become the fourth major league player. hit 700 career home runs.
The winners were chosen by a vote of 30 team beat reporters on MLB.com.
Verlander went 18-4 with a 1.75 ERA and 185 strikeouts in 28 starts and made his ninth All-Star team. He won Game 5 in Philadelphia, the first World Series win of his illustrious career, and then became a free agent this month.
The 39-year-old right-hander only made one start in 2020 with an elbow injury and missed the entire 2021 season while recovering from surgery.
Pujols batted .270 with 24 homers and 68 RBIs in 109 games for the Cardinals after being released by the Los Angeles Angels in May 2021 and finishing last year with the Dodgers.
His OPS was the highest since his last season with the Cardinals in 2011 (.906) before joining the Angels, and his home runs were his most since hitting 31 in 2016 for the Angels.
The 11-time All-Star hit 18 home runs in the second half and retired after the Cardinals were eliminated from the playoffs by Philadelphia in the wildcard round.
He finished his career fourth in the major league annals in home runs (703), second in RBIs (2,218) and total bases (6,211), and ninth in hits (3,384).
PHILADELPHIA – Phillies Slugger Bryce Harper will miss the start of the 2023 season after undergoing reconstructive surgery on his right elbow on Wednesday.
The operation was performed by Dr. Neil ElAttrah in Los Angeles.
Harper is expected to return to the Philadelphia roster as a forward for the All-Star break. According to the team, he can return to the field by the end of the season.
In April, 30-year-old Harper suffered a minor ulnar lateral ligament tear in his elbow joint. He last played right field in Miami on April 16. In May, he received an injection of platelet-rich plasma and switched to the role of a striker.
On November 14, Harper met with ElAttrache, who decided that the tear would not heal on its own, requiring surgery.
Even with an elbow injury, Harper led the Phillies to their first World Series since 2009, where they lost to Houston in six games. He hit .349 with six homers and 13 RBIs in 17 postseason games.
In late June, Harper broke his thumb when he was hit by a pitch and was out of action for two months. The two-time NL MVP is still hitting .286 with 18 homers and 65 RBIs for the season.
Harper left Washington and signed a 13-year, $330 million contract with the Phillies in 2019. Seven-time All-Star Harper has 285 career home runs.
Without Harper, the Phillies could have used Nick Castellanos as well as Kyle Schwarber at the designated hitter. JT Realmuto can also serve as a DH when he needs to take a break from his fishing duties.