Albert Pujols, Justin Verlander win Comeback Player of Year honors

St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols and Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander earned Comeback Player of the Year honors for the National League and American League, respectively, on Tuesday.

Pujols won the NL honor after closing out his career with the St. Louis Cardinals. Verlander took AL honors just six days after unanimously winning the AL Cy Young Award.

Pujols, 42, batted .270 with 24 homers and 68 RBIs in 109 games in the final season of his 22-year career. It was his second tour of duty with St. Louis as he previously spent 11 seasons with the franchise (2001-11) before also playing for the Los Angeles Angels and Los Angeles Dodgers.

Pujols was released by the Angels in May 2021 before finishing the season with the Dodgers. But he rebounded in 2022 and hit his most homers since 2016 during his return to the Cardinals and completed his career ranked fourth in homers (703), second in RBIs (2,218) and ninth in hits (3,384).

Verlander, 39, missed the entire 2021 season due to Tommy John surgery but recovered to go 18-4 with a major-league-best 1.75 ERA in 28 starts. He also led the AL in wins, WHIP (0.83) and opponents’ batting average (.186).

Verlander struck out 185 in 175 innings while winning the Cy Young Award for the third time in his 17-year career. His ERA was the lowest in Astros history and the best in the AL since Boston’s Pedro Martinez had a 1.74 ERA in 2000.

The winners were determined by voting from the 30 beat reporters from MLB.com.

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