Top 10 Comeback Player of the Year Stories to Watch in 2024

There's a surprisingly large amount of players in the midst of comeback bids in 2024. Here are 10 of the most notable ones to keep an eye on.

PHOENIX, ARIZONA - APRIL 03: Carlos Rodon #55 of the New York Yankees throw s pitch in a game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on April 03, 2024 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Zac BonDurant/Getty Images)

Every year, the Comeback Player of the Year Awards seem to fly under the radar of most of Major League Baseball’s followers. It does not carry the same amount of wow-factor as MVP, Cy Young and Rookie of the Year, but it still holds some importance.

The easiest way to define the award is that it praises players who “re-emerged on the field” after a down year the season prior. Oftentimes it is handed out to players who were injured for most, if not all, of the year before. But there are also times where the winner simply went from a well-below average player to a star-caliber one in the span of a calendar year.

Last year’s winners were Liam Hendriks in the AL and Cody Bellinger in the NL. Hendriks spent the vast majority of the year on the injured list while recovering from a scary cancer diagnosis, but he rebounded to make five appearances before a Tommy John surgery took him out for the rest of the year. His winning of the award was much more about his perseverance and resilience than the outcome on the field.

Bellinger’s, though, was strictly performance based. He had a .193 average and 66 OPS+ in 239 games combined from 2021-2022 before a one year “prove it” deal with the Cubs saw him return to stardom in 2023, finishing 10th in MVP voting and earning his second Silver Slugger Award.

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The 2024 season in particular has a ton of noteworthy comeback stories to keep an eye on. We’re going to break down 10 of them that stick out above the rest.

Top MLB Comeback Stories of 2024

Honorable mention

  • Walker Buehler – Tommy John surgery late in 2022 sidelined Buehler for nearly all of the 2023 campaign. He returned in September and threw just two rehab innings before he was shut down. He only just recently returned to a big league mound and has a 4.05 ERA through 13.1 innings. He’s not a prime candidate to win any awards this year, but he’s got ace-like stuff and having him back on the Dodgers is a win.
  • Rhys Hoskins – Hoskins also missed all of last year due to injury. He signed a free agent deal with the Brewers and was outperforming expectations in a big way before going back on the injured list with a hamstring injury. Right now, his long-term status is up in the air, but he sure was swinging it prior to his IL placement.
  • Salvador Perez – One of the best catchers of his time, Perez finds himself in the honorable mentions because he was an All-Star last year. It was a down year by his standards for sure, but he drove in 80 runs and had a 92 OPS+. The 13-year veteran is well on his way to his ninth All-Star Game and could end up earning some stray MVP votes once all is said and done. He isn’t coming back from as much adversity as others who cracked the top-10, but boy is he fun to watch.
  • Mike Trout – Trout was also an All-Star last year but he was limited to just 82 games. He remains a top-shelf talent but is currently injured once again. Living legends have won Comeback Player of the Year Awards before, but he needs to stay on the field in order to do so.

Carlos Correa

202310. (135 G)
202413.519.0.269.365.3541321.0 (31 G)

The 2023 campaign was a weird one for Correa, who had his worst full season at the plate. He grounded into the most double plays in baseball and failed to make solid contact with the ball all throughout the year. Through a month’s worth of games in 2024, he’s looking a lot more like the generational talent at shortstop that he once appeared to be. He has experienced dramatic turnarounds in nearly every offensive category.

Erick Fedde

20226.664.111.495.815.005.150.3 (30 G, 127 IP)
20248.072.331.243.103.804.030.9 (10 G, 58 IP)

Fedde spent his 2023 season in South Korea, dominating for the NC Dinos. However, the year before he was a full-time member of the Nationals’ starting rotation and struggled immensely. He returned to the States with a lethal sinker/sweeper combination and has been one of the top surprises in baseball through 10 starts. He’s striking out batters at a much higher rate and has done a solid job of limiting baserunners far better than he ever has before in MLB.

Jack Flaherty

20239.234.1210.14.994.534.3686 (29 G, 144.1 IP)
202411.851.328.23.792.292.78107 (9 G, 54.2 IP)

A mid-season trade to the Orioles saw Flaherty’s 2023 season go from bad to worse, inflating his numbers in a less-than-ideal way. He signed a one-year contract in Detroit and has suddenly become one of the better starters in the game. Flaherty leads the AL in strikeouts (72) and has cut his walks down at an alarming rate. It’s been a while since he’s been viewed as an All-Star-caliber pitcher, but Flaherty appears to be back to form.

Casey Mize

20246.602.060.823.503.943.630.7 (8 G, 43.2 IP)

Mize, a former top pitching prospect, underwent Tommy John surgery in 2022 and as a result missed all of last year. He’s now back on the mound and has looked sharp. While his comeback story is less about a year-to-year statistical improvement than it is his returning from a major injury, it helps that he’s got a 116 ERA+ and is an integral part of this surging Tigers rotation.

Tyler O’Neill

202310. (72 G)
202413.3.312.248.358.3761391.0 (39 G)

The relationship between O’Neill and the St. Louis Cardinals quickly soured last year, which led to his trade to Boston. So far, he is hot on the comeback trail. The 29-year-old finally looks like the MVP-caliber player we saw back in 2021 and is tied for sixth in the AL in home runs (11) and ninth in runs scored (29).

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Carlos Rodon

20238.953.922.106.854.875.79-0.2 (14 G, 64.1 IP)
20249.002.621.473.273.884.480.4 (10 G, 55 IP)

In Gerrit Cole’s absence, Rodon has stepped up and been one of the leaders of this Yankees rotation. The left-hander was hard to watch last year but is in the midst of quite the comeback campaign. He has slimmed down and adjusted his repertoire a bit, branching off of a fastball-slider combo with a changeup, curveball and cutter as well. This expanded toolset has helped him get back to where he needs to be on the mound.

Chris Sale

202310.962.541.314.304.873.722.1 (20 G, 102.2 IP)
202411.121.270.642.223.882.231.9 (9 G, 56.2 IP)

Seeing Sale rediscover his ace potential on his new team has been one of the best storylines of the year so far. The lanky left-hander has become one of the more injury prone players in recent memory over the past few years, but he’s easily been the Braves’ best pitcher in 2024. With Spencer Strider down, Sale has stepped up and once again looks like the surefire Hall of Famer he was during his days on the White Sox.

Luis Severino

2023.32665.92.326.654.876.14-0.6 (19 G, 89.1 IP)
2024.24867.90.703.483.883.960.7 (9 G, 51.2 IP)

The 2023 campaign went about as poorly as it could’ve for Severino. He concluded an eight-year tenure with the Yankees on a whimper rather than a bang. Turns out, he just needed to switch over to the other New York team. Severino has improved his output across the board and already is nearing his total amount of quality starts from last year (5, has 3 this year) in 10 less outings. Leading a Mets rotation that needs a bright spot, Severino has been one of the more notable comeback storylines of 2024.

Brady Singer

20237.502.761.135.524.464.291.9 (29 G, 159.2 IP)
20249.692.700.792.703.283.201.1 (10 G, 56.2 IP)

Singer, a former first round pick, hasn’t quite capitalized on his high potential to this point. Last year was awful by all accounts for him, as he posted career-highs in ERA and FIP and career-lows in strikeouts. His comeback has been a nice story on a Royals club that seems to be full of them. Singer and his 152 ERA+ could find themselves in the All-Star Game in a few months if he keeps the pace up.

Jesse Winker

2023116.199.320.26965-0.8 (61 G)
2024622.229.343.3331160.6 (45 G)

Few hitters have turned their fortunes around more than Winker has. With him, though, it’s just a matter of maintaining the pace. After a disastrous 61-game showing in Milwaukee last year, Winker’s value hit an all-time low, leading to a prove-it type deal with the Nationals. He’s made good on the signing and now represents an intriguing trade candidate once the deadline rolls around.