October 2nd, 2007

Your comeback ex-Tigers of the year

Admit it, you follow what former Tigers are doing over the course of the season. I know this because of all the emails people send me about Carlos Pena. Well, the Comeback Players of the Year were announced today, and they’re two former Tigers first basemen. Pena won the AL award on the strength of 46 home runs, 121 RBIs, a .282 batting average and even 103 walks for the Devil Rays.

So what was the difference between Tiger Pena and Devil Ray Pena? Rays manager Joe Maddon had a telling quote:

"You know what I love, how he took every at-bat," Maddon said. "He does
not waste an at-bat. … I think Carlos, as this season went on, really
became involved with his at-bats. Every at-bat became a new adventure.
I think as the season wore on, this last month, his pitch selection got
even better

In the National League, Dmitri Young’s renaissance season with Washington earned him that award. He batted .320 with 13 home runs and 74 RBIs. It was the kind of season Young enjoys in the NL with the Reds before he fell into high-power, high-strikeout tendencies in Detroit. But the bigger adjustment for him, obviously, was cleaning up his life and improving his health once he was diagnosed with diabetes last fall.

I talked with Dmitri in July during the All-Star festivities, and he was very frank in saying he could’ve been dead if not for the doctor who diagnosed him and the people who forced him to change his life. More telling, he had the big smile back again that was absent in Detroit even when he was around in 2006.