Another day, another piece of hardware for Pretty Ricky. This time, the reigning American League Cy Young award winner has been named the American League Comeback Player of the Year.
In his debut season in Boston in 2015, Porcello went 9-15 with a 4.92 ERA, and a 1.36 WHIP in 172 innings. He followed that up with a 22-4 season in which he had a 3.15 ERA, and a 1.01 WHIP in 223 innings to win his first Cy Young award. I’ve certainly got no problem with Rick Porcello being named the AL Comeback Player of the Year. He deserves it the most, especially since the expectations for him could not have been lower during spring training, and then he went on to win the friggin’ Cy Young award. But I do think that a teammate of his also deserves to be in the conversation for this award, and that teammate is Hanley Ramirez.
Ramirez went from a -1.3 WAR in 2015 to a 2.8 WAR in 2016, while Porcello went from a 0.6 WAR in 2015 to a 5.0 WAR in 2016. There was a bigger gap in production from Porcello’s 2015 to 2016 compared to Hanley, which is why I think Porcello deserved to win the most, but Hanley was coming off an even worse season than Porcello. Looking at all the facts here, Hanley had, statistically, one of the worst defensive seasons ever by a left fielder in 2015 (-2.5 defensive WAR), had a horrible season offensively after the month of April (.238 BA, .644 OPS), and was being moved to a new position that most believed would be just as bad as the left field experiment a year prior. He showed up to spring training without a glove, and was goofing off during fielding drills when he was supposed to be taking learning a new position seriously.
All signs pointed to another disaster, and then he played in 147 games, the most he had played in since 2012 (157), hit .286 with an .866 OPS, his highest OPS in a season in which he’d played at least 100 games since 2009 (.954), 28 doubles, 30 home runs, which was his highest home run total since he hit 33 in 2008, and his 111 RBI were a career high. Hanley’s 2016 season wasn’t just a comeback from 2015, it was a comeback from the last few years. Again, I still think that Porcello should’ve won the award, but a tip of the cap goes out to Hanley for the season that he put together in 2016.