After a fantastic 2019 season, it appears Hyun-Jin Ryu is in the running for the National League comeback player of the year.
The MLBPA announced that players have selected Lucas Giolito, Jorge Soler and Hunter Pence as finalists in the American League and Josh Donaldson, Sonny Gray and Hyun-Jin Ryu in the National League in voting for Comeback Player honors in the 2019 Players Choice Awards.
— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) October 14, 2019
After an exceptional season interrupted by a ugly groin injury that cost him half the season in 2018, Ryu came back to winner the NL ERA title in 2019. Moreover, his 2.32 ERA was best in all of baseball. He also lead the NL with his astronomically low 1.2 BB/9 walk rate. His other numbers were impressive. He went 14-5 in 182 innings. He struck out 163 and gave up only 160 hits.
Don’t Call It A Comeback?
The question on the minds of many will surely be: Was this a comeback year? The left-hander was injured for much of 2018, but he still had a 1.97 ERA last year and struck out almost 10 per 9 innings of work. The difference is here:
2018: 82.1 IP
2019: 182.2 IP
His 100 more innings and full season of work is probably what qualifies him. When you go from a pitcher who’s very good but not contributing enough to his team to a Cy Young candidate, the award becomes tangible.
How Many Awards and Where Will He go?
He’s got the NL ERA title already. He’s still a candidate for Cy Young. Now, he’s a candidate for the comeback player of the year. The questions for Hyun-Jin Ryu are: How many awards will he win, and more importantly, what jersey is he going to wear next year? As a free agent, this potential award only pads his worth. Here’s to hoping the award winning southpaw is still wearing Dodger blue in 2020.