Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas made history in 2017, clubbing 38 homers and breaking the franchise record of 36 set by Steve Balboni in 1985.
The performance was impressive. The context was even better. One year after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in Chicago, Moustakas rebounded with one of the best seasons of his career. On Tuesday, he was rewarded by being selected The Sporting News’ American League comeback player of the year.
Moustakas, who will become a free agent at the conclusion of the World Series, tied for fifth in the American League in home runs and also set career highs with 75 runs, 85 RBIs and a .521 slugging percentage. He finished with 2.6 Wins Above Replacement, according to Baseball Reference. He joins former starting pitcher Bret Saberhagen in 1987 as the only Royals to earn the honor.
Moustakas was voted to his second All-Star Game and competed in the Home Run Derby for the first time. He might have become the first Royal to eclipse 40 homers. But a nagging knee injury slowed his record-breaking pace in August and September.
In the National League, former Royals closer Greg Holland took home the comeback player award after returning from Tommy John surgery and notching 41 saves for the Colorado Rockies.
The Sporting News has given out the comeback player awards since 1965. According to the publication, this year’s awards were based on voting by 125 American League players and 88 National Leaguers.