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Berkman, Ellsbury win 2011 MLB Comeback Player of the Year Awards10/13/2011 10:34 AM ET
Lance Berkman of the St. Louis Cardinals and Jacoby Ellsbury of the Boston Red Sox are the recipients of the 2011 Major League Baseball Comeback Player of the Year Awards, 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.
Berkman, who hit a combined .248 with 14 home runs and 58 RBI between the Houston Astros and New York Yankees in 2010, batted .301 with 31 home runs and 94 RBI in his first season with the Cardinals in 2011. The 35-year-old added 23 doubles, two triples and 90 runs scored while posting a .547 slugging percentage and a .412 on-base percentage. The 23 doubles marked his 12th consecutive season with at least 20 doubles while it was his sixth career season with 30-or-more home runs and his eighth season with 90-or-more RBI. The switch-hitting Berkman finished the season ranked among National League leaders in home runs (T-9th), RBI (T-11th), walks (92, 4th), slugging (5th) and on-base percentage (3rd).
Berkman, who led the N.L. with 22 home runs on the road, now ranks fourth all-time among switch hitters with 358 career home runs and his 31 homers this season were the second-most by a switch-hitter in St. Louis history behind the 35 hit by Rip Collins in 1934. Berkman, who was originally selected by the Astros with the 16th overall pick in the 1997 First-Year Player Draft, registered four multi-homer contests this season and now has 29 for his career. The Texas native appeared in 145 games, including 107 starts in right field, 16 in left field and 16 at first base. The 145 games marked his most since playing in 159 during the 2008 season. In July, the Rice University product was elected by the fans to his sixth career All-Star Game (also 2001-02, 2004, 2006, 2008) and made his third career start.
Ellsbury, in his fifth Major League season, posted career-highs in nearly every offensive category after being limited to just 18 games in 2010 due to injuries. Ellsbury hit .321 with 32 home runs, 105 RBI, 46 doubles, five triples and 119 runs scored. He also added 39 stolen bases to go with his .552 slugging percentage and .376 on-base percentage. The 28-year-old led the Majors with 364 total bases and 83 extra-base hits while ranking among the A.L. leaders in hits (212, 3rd), RBI (T-6th), runs (3rd), batting average (5th), slugging (T-5th), multi-hit games (T-5th), stolen bases (4th), doubles (T-3rd) and home runs (T-5th). The Madras, Oregon native became the first Red Sox player to have a 30-homer, 100-RBI season while serving as the club's primary leadoff hitter, and the first Major League leadoff hitter to accomplish that feat since Alfonso Soriano did it for the New York Yankees in 2002.
Ellsbury, the 23rd overall selection in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft, became the first Red Sox player ever to achieve a 30-homer, 30-stolen base season and the 12th player in A.L. history to accomplish the feat (16th time). In addition, Jacoby became the fourth player in Major League history to reach 200 hits, 100 RBI, 35 stolen bases and 30 home runs in a single season, joining Vladimir Guerrero (2002), Alfonso Soriano (2002) and Alex Rodriguez (1998). Ellsbury, who was named an All-Star for the first time in his career this year, joined Carl Everett (33 homers as a center fielder in 2000) as the second Boston center fielder in the last 25 years to top the 20-homer mark, and his 364 total bases were the most ever by a Red Sox center fielder, eclipsing the previous mark of 339 set by Tony Armas in 1984. The only Boston center fielder to collect more hits than Ellsbury's 212 was Hall of Famer Tris Speaker, who recorded 222 hits in 1912.
The 30 Club beat reporters from MLB.com, the official web site of Major League Baseball, selected the winners for the 2011 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); Carlos Peña and Dmitri Young (2007); Cliff Lee and Brad Lidge (2008); Aaron Hill and Chris Carpenter (2009); and Francisco Liriano and Tim Hudson (2010).
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.