In the 2011 season fans saw a Met win the batting title for the first time in their 49th year, when Jose Reyes edged Ryan Braun for the lead. During the 2012 campaign RA Dickey pitched the best that he had in his entire professional baseball career, and ended up running away with the CY Young Award, the first Met to win the coveted pitching prize since Dwight Gooden in 1985.
This season fans will most likely see neither of these feats accomplished, especially the way Clayton Kershaw has dominated since the All Star break. However, there is an award that two Mets could take away at the conclusion of the 2013 season. This the Comeback Player of the Year. Since the award was given out in 2005, no player in a Mets uniform has taken home the award. This season the Mets have two players very worthy of the award.
The obvious player that fans and commentators have discussed is Marlon Byrd, and rightfully so. Last season Marlon Byrd was in one word, atrocious. It started with a 50-game suspension for the use of PEDs, a first time offense for the outfielder. When Byrd did play, the drugs did not seem to help one bit, as in 47 games between the Cubs and Red Sox, Byrd only hit .210 with one homer and nine RBIs. For a guy who came up as a touted prospect for the Phillies years ago, all seemed lost for Byrd.
This year the Mets brought Byrd in during Spring Training, looking at best to make the team as a platoon in right field with Mike Baxter. Byrd impressed enough in Port St. Lucie to make it to the big club, and even get the start on opening day. He did have a walk-off hit in the first week of the season against the Marlins, but after that, his April was nothing to write home about, hitting .232. It looked like his 2013 might be marginally better than 2012. At the end of May, something clicked for Byrd, and since then he’s been one of the best offensive outfielders in baseball.
After May Byrd has hit .280 or better, hitting .336 in the month of July. Thus far this year Byrd has hit .288, 21 homers (a career high) and has driven in 71 runs. His OBP currently stands at .335, not too shabby. While David Wright was in the lineup, he provided good protection for the third baseman. Without Wright, he initially struggled, but since then has been one of the main threats in a weakened Met lineup. From where he came last year, Byrd has had a total renaissance in his career. PEDs might keep him away from the award for Comeback Player of the Year, but he still deserves at least another look at it. His season has overshadowed another Met who could take home the award; Dillon Gee.
Dillon Gee came into 2012 looking to improve upon his 2011, where he won 13 games in his first full season in the big leagues. After a torrid start in 2011, Gee struggled a bit towards the second half which elevated his ERA. In 2012, he was becoming a solid back end of the rotation guy, and towards the All Star break looked to be a very good pitcher.
His ERA was 4.10 heading into the break, and he threw 109.2 innings. Every start looked better than the last, and his performance appeared vital down the stretch for the then-contending 2012 Mets. However, tragedy struck. He learned he had a blood clot in his arm which required surgery, and thus ended his season prematurely. It was a crushing blow to him and the team.
Gee returned earlier this year, hoping to recover from the surgery he had in July 2012. He struggled early this season, not looking comfortable on the mound. With Zack Wheeler nearing the big leagues, it looked like Gee could lose his spot. Going into a start against the Yankees on May 30th, Gee held a 6.34 ERA. Since that game, his ERA has done almost a complete flip, and now stands at 3.60. Since that May start Gee has been one of the main reasons the Mets have had one of the best staffs in baseball from front to back. He now has nine wins, tied for Matt Harvey for the team lead.
On July 22nd against the Braves he carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning, trying to best the start against the same Atlanta team where he carried a shutout heading to the ninth inning, but lost on a walk-off homer to Freddie Freeman.
It seems every time he carries the ball, the Mets have a shot to win. After a tumultuous 2012 campaign ending in surgery, Gee has recovered this season and has been a revitalized pitcher. While Byrd has garnered most of the attention in this award talk, Gee should at least be getting some notice. Either way, both have been tremendous this season, and their achievements should not be overlooked.