BY BRIAN REID
The beginning of the offseason typically marks a bittersweet time for the Orioles. A bitter end of the season because they failed to win the World Series for the 33rd-year running (but hey, who's counting), but a sweet start to the offseason because Orioles' players often scoop up a multitude of individual honors. This year, however, that hadn't been the case until Mark Trumbo's surprising win of American League Comeback Player of the Year last night.
From Zach Britton being left out of the finalists for the Cy Young Award to the Orioles' first season without a Gold Glove since 2010, the Orioles were unrepresented on the award podium until Trumbo's victory. While the win is a nice feather in Trumbo's cap, the question must be asked, "Did he deserve it?" Trumbo absolutely had an outstanding year, and there is no discrediting what he has done for the Orioles as a team, but can you truly call his performance a comeback? Let's take a look at the numbers and try to piece together an idea of how Trumbo won the award over the other nominees: outfielder Ian Desmond and pitcher Yu Darvish, both representing the Texas Rangers.
The thing that first jumps out at you is the home runs. Trumbo more than doubled his home run total from 2015, going from 22 that year to 47 this past year. His RBI totals increased as well, from 64 in 2015 to 108 in 2016.
When you look past those totals, his stats did not change very much. He slashed .262/.310/.449 in 2015 and .256/.316/.533 in 2016. The two seasons are nearly identical, except for the improved slugging percentage which he owes to the increased home runs. His strikeout total increased as well, from 132 in 2015 to 170 in 2016. These numbers just don't scream "Comeback Player of the Year" to me.
Next up, we take a look at Ian Desmond. Desmond took home career lows in batting and on-base percentage in 2015, where he slashed an abysmal .233/.290/.384. In 2016, he returned in a big way, improving to a slash line of .285/.335/.446. He also hit more home runs, stole more bases, earned more RBIs, and struck out less. He ended up losing the award by just one vote.
Yu Darvish, meanwhile, returned from Tommy John Surgery he underwent in 2015. His numbers were more modest, with a 3.41 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP. Darvish is the only player who truly "came back" after missing a full season, and his numbers were not far from his career average ERA of 3.29 and an average WHIP of 1.18. There was definitely a case to be made for him to win the award, although he finished third in the voting.
So while we all enjoying watching Trumbombs blast off into the Baltimore sky all season, Trumbo may have been fortunate to win the AL Comeback Player of the Year award. He should feel lucky to receive an individual award, while teammates Zach Britton, Manny Machado, and Chris Davis end up feeling left out.