BYRD CELEBRATES HOME RUN NO. 21
Marlon Byrd walloped his 21st home run of the year on Tuesday and setting a new career high for the 35-year old journeyman who has delivered an unexpected solid season for the Mets. Signed solely as a favor to his agent who pleaded with the Mets to take a chance on him, Byrd has repaid the Mets in spades and has exceeded all expectations. As I mentioned in an earlier post, he leads the team in home runs and 70 RBIs.
Byrd has appreciated the opportunity the Mets gave him and is thankful for how things have fallen into place for him. He credits hard work and a determination to wipe away his PED suspension and start off with a clean slate. It has been a hard-earned and memorable season for him thus far. Terry Collins calls it a great story.
“He was bound and determined to put that behind him and try to move forward,” Terry Collins said. “We brought him to spring training and he’s truly, absolutely saved us. I say every good team has to have a great story and a surprise, and he’s it.”
Of course the thought of possibly winning the NL Comeback Player of the Year has now entered the minds of many, but Byrd isn’t the only one having a remarkable comeback in 2013. Doug Miller of MLB.com does a nice job of sizing up the competition last week:
- Chase Utley, Phillies: The perennial All-Star second baseman’s 2011 and ’12 campaigns were shortened and essentially ruined by knee problems, and many were questioning if he’d ever be the same. Utley has answered a lot of those questions in a bounceback season during which he has gotten his OPS back up to .848 and hit 15 homers.
- Francisco Liriano, Pirates: Liriano was a combined 6-12 with a 5.34 ERA last year while pitching for the Twins and White Sox. His problem was command — he walked 87 batters in 156 2/3 innings. This year, Liriano has been one of the big revelations on the incredible Pittsburgh team. He’s 13-5 with a 2.68 ERA and has 113 strikeouts and 45 walks in 114 innings.
- Marlon Byrd, Mets: Byrd got a total of 143 big league at-bats with the Cubs and Red Sox in 2012 and didn’t do a whole lot with them, batting .210 with one homer and nine RBIs. This year, at the age of 35, Byrd has resurfaced in New York and made the most of his opportunity, batting. 282 with 18 homers and 63 RBIs.
- Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies: It’s tough to consider Tulowitzki a comeback candidate when he’s a perennial MVP candidate, but he fits the bill. Tulowitzki had only 181 at-bats last year, hitting eight homers while driving in 27 runs before groin problems prematurely ended his season. He had a lengthy stay on the disabled list this year, but he’s nevertheless hitting .305 with 20 homers and 65 RBIs.
- Jayson Werth, Nationals: He hit only five homers and drove in 31 runs last year while garnering only 300 at-bats because of injury, but Werth’s power is back. Through Wednesday, he had a .930 OPS, 17 homers and 49 RBIs in 310 at-bats.
This isn’t going to be easy for Byrd, and he’s not the runaway leader as some are making him out to be. More so than that, while baseball fans can be very forgiving when it comes to PED suspensions, the ones who do the voting are not.