Matt Harvey and the Comeback Player of the Year correlation

There are some baseball awards that no Mets player has ever won; the MVP award especially stands out. One award the team has done fairly well at is Comeback Player of the Year, five different Mets have won this honor. A player who wins a baseball Comeback Player of the Year award is one who has rebounded from a poor or injured season to post a good if not great season. The original Comeback Player of the Year was started by The Sporting News back in 1965, and they continue to pick a player in each league for this honor every year. Then, for a bit of confusion, in 2005 MLB started awarding a Comeback Player of the Year for each league. The Mets have won a fair amount of these awards, and there is an interesting correlation associated with a Mets player winning it. Lets run down the Mets who have won a Comeback Player of the Year.

1969… Tommie Agee. Agee had been acquired by the Mets from the White Sox before the 1968 season at the urging of then new manager Gil Hodges. 1968 was the year of the pitcher, but even so Agee’s numbers were atrocious with a .217/.255/.307 slash line in 132 games. Agee bounced back big time in 1969, playing in 149 games with a slash line of .271/.342/.464, and playing great defense to boot.

1986…Ray Knight. Knight’s 1985 stats for the Mets looked similar to Agee’s 1968 numbers at .218/.252/.328 in 90 games. The third baseman stepped it up in 1986, playing in 137 games with a slash line of .298/.351/.424 to earn the trophy.

1999…Rickey Henderson. Henderson had played in 1998 for Oakland, but he put up some very un-Henderson like numbers that season. In a year that was big for offense in general, Henderson played in 152 games, with a slash line of .236/.376/.347. The following year the future Hall of Famer was a Met, and in 121 games he hit .315/.423/.466 with 37 stolen bases.

2008…Fernando Tatis. Tatis had a long MLB career, but by 2007 he was playing in AAA ball. The following year he was on the Mets roster and played 92 games, mostly in corner outfield with a .297/.369/.484 slash line. If you remember from earlier in the article, there were two Comeback Player of the Year awards from 2005 onward, and Tatis won the Sporting News version that year. MLB awarded it to Brad Lidge of the Phillies.

2015… Matt Harvey. There was no split decision in this season, Harvey won both awards. He had been recovering from Tommy John surgery and missed the 2014 season entirely. In 2015 he returned with a vengeance going 13-8 with a .271 ERA and 188 K’s.

Many of you may have noticed the correlation by now, if a Met is Comeback Player of the Year the team makes the postseason, with the exception of 2008 when the team fell just short of a wildcard berth. In 1969 of course, the Mets won the World Series over the Orioles. In 1986 the Mets triumphed over the Red Sox. In 1999 the Mets won the wildcard by beating Cincinnati. In 2015 the team won the NLDS in a tight battle with the Dodgers then swept the Cubs in the NLCS to win the pennant before falling to Kansas City in the World Series.

Since the one year the correlation did not work was 2008 when there were two awards, it would be fair to say if a Mets player is a consensus selection for Comeback Player of the Year, there has been 100% correlation so far with the team making the postseason.

There will be several Mets who would be strong possibilities for the 2018 Comeback Player of the Year if they return to form, specifically Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard and David Wright. If either Harvey or Wright win it, the postseason would be almost a lock, and perhaps a World Series appearance would be in the cards as well.

9 comments for “Matt Harvey and the Comeback Player of the Year correlation

  1. Chris F
    December 12, 2017 at 10:44 am

    This is the classic example of serendipity. Although someone winning a comeback award certainly means an improvement by one person, any link to post season is purely coincidence.

    • John Fox
      December 12, 2017 at 11:54 am

      yes Chris it’s probably more a coincidence than anything else, but if you look at my last paragraph if either David Wright or Matt Harvey were to win it in 2018 that could be enough to push the Mets into the post season assuming respectable production from the rest of the team.

      • Chris F
        December 12, 2017 at 2:20 pm

        I mean it is a fun thing to identify, but there is no mathematical underpinning for this to be anything but coincidence. Remember the Giants winning World Series every even year….until it stopped. Each was unrelated to each other.

        As for the Mets, the presumption is that such a thing says we are “one player” away from 90 wins. I think that is wildly far from reality. Unless DWright comes back and turns into Brooks Robinson plus Hank Aaron theres little chance he can effect the team greatly. I think it will be a miracle if he actually gets on the field. As for Harvey, I see zero reason to suspect him as anything other than a pitcher coming back from severe health issues with a loss of abilities, with an outside hope of a 4 ERA and 1.25 WHIP. He is already way over hyped, making him comeback player of the year here in December just too much for me.

        I can see Syndergaard as the only real possibility of our injured huddled masses with some legit potential for this.

  2. Name
    December 12, 2017 at 12:42 pm

    Interesting tidbit

    Familia should also be a good contender for this award. Cespedes has a shot too but his case is weakened by the fact that he did appear in half the games last year, so someone who played less has a better shot.

    • John Fox
      December 12, 2017 at 5:16 pm

      Name,
      Good point about Familia. If he wins Comeback Player of the year, he’s probably getting lots of saves, and that means lots of wins for the Mets.

    • Chris F
      December 12, 2017 at 5:36 pm

      Mets manager Mickey Callaway suggested on Tuesday that the team might not have a designated closer in 2018 — instead focusing on matchups and reacting when high-leverage situations arise.

      “I think that we’re going to pitch guys when it makes sense,” Callaway said at the Winter Meetings in response to a question about Jeurys Familia. “I’m going to pitch guys to their strengths and they’re going to face the batters they should be facing.”

      Callaway said it could work out that Familia is in place to save every game, but that they’re not “locked in” to that…

  3. Pete from NJ
    December 12, 2017 at 4:00 pm

    I smiled reading the Matt Harvey theory. Of course it’s wishful thinking but it sure would be a great situation. In addition all comeback players listed above were a huge unexpected and necessary contributions for the pennant winners.

    I’m all in favor of thinking Harvey could do it. That’s what December is all about: a miracle present under the tree.

    (Do I remember F Tatis getting injured mid September and basically dooming the team)?

    • December 12, 2017 at 5:03 pm

      While Tatis did get hurt mid-September in 2008 it’s hard to thing that his injury – and not the bullpen – is what doomed the team.

      • December 14, 2017 at 2:56 pm

        Couldn’t keep Moises Alou on the field, either.

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