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Lee, Lidge win 2008 Major League Baseball Comeback Player of the Year Award09/30/2008 12:31 PM ET
Cliff Lee of the Cleveland Indians and Brad Lidge of the Philadelphia Phllies are the recipients of the 2008 Major League Baseball Comeback Player of the Year Award, it was announced today. The Comeback Player of the Year Award is officially sanctioned by Major League Baseball, and is presented annually to one player in each League who has re-emerged on the baseball field during the season.
After posting a 5-8 record and a 6.29 ERA in the 2007 season - in which he spent time at Triple-A and also pitched out of the Cleveland bullpen - Lee dominated from wire to wire in 2008, finishing the season with a 22-3 (.880) record and an American League-best 2.54 ERA. He tied for the Major League-lead (along with Arizona's Brandon Webb) with 22 wins. Lee became Cleveland's first 20-game winner since Gaylord Perry in 1974 and the first Indians hurler to be the A.L.'s wins leader since Perry held the top mark in 1972. The 30-year-old left-hander threw four complete games, including two shutouts, and struck out 170 batters in his 223.1 innings pitched, allowing just 214 hits and 34 walks.
Lee, a native of Arkansas and a product of the University of Arkansas, won at least three games every month this season, and his ERA never exceeded 3.41 in any month this season. In 21 of Lee's 31 starts, he pitched at least six innings in which he allowed two earned runs or less. His season included an 11-game winning streak, the longest in baseball since 2005. His 22 wins were the second most by a left-hander in club history; only Vean Gregg, who won 23 in 1911, posted more. Lee was the A.L.'s starting pitcher in the 2008 All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium. Originally drafted by the Montreal Expos in 2000, he has been a member of the Indians' organization since June 27, 2002, when he was acquired with teammates Grady Sizemore and Brandon Phillips in the trade that sent Bartolo Colon to the Expos.
Lidge, in his first year with the Phillies, re-established himself as one of the game's premier closers as he helped Philadelphia claim its second consecutive N.L. East Division Title. The 31-year-old right-hander was perfect in save situations, converting each of his 41 opportunities, becoming just the fourth Phillies pitcher in team history to record 40 saves in a single season. Brad finished the season with a 2-0 record and a 1.87 ERA while earning his second National League All-Star selection. In 69.1 innings, Lidge recorded 92 strikeouts against 35 walks with 50 hits.
The former first round draft pick (17th overall in 1998) has converted a career-best 44 consecutive save opportunities dating back to last season, eclipsing his previous best of 24 straight in 2005. The streak ranks third-longest in the Majors since 1990 and is also the longest in Phillies history. Among National Leaguers, Brad finished the season ranked first in save percentage, second in ERA, tied for second in saves, and third in strikeouts and games finished (61). In 2007, Lidge went 5-3 with a 3.36 ERA in 67.0 innings pitched for Houston, converting 19 of 27 save opportunities.
The 30 Club beat reporters from MLB.com, the official website of Major League Baseball, selected the winners for the 2008 Major League Baseball Comeback Player of the Year Award. Past winners of the award include: Jason Giambi and Ken Griffey, Jr. (2005); Jim Thome and Nomar Garciaparra (2006); and Carlos Pena and Dmitri Young (2007).
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.