Major League Baseball has named Tampa Bay Rays closer Fernando Rodney and San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey the 2012 American League and National League comeback players of the year. Rodney, who signed with the Rays on a meager one-year deal after a terrible 2011 in Anaheim, surprised everyone by being nearly unhittable in 2012, while Buster Posey returned from a season-ending ankle injury to put up MVP-worthy numbers.
The 35-year-old Rodney finished his 2012 campaign with 0.60 earned-run average in 74⅔ innings, breaking Dennis Eckersley's record for the lowest earned-run average in major-league history for a pitcher with 50 or more innings pitched. Fernando Rodney walked an average of 5.6 batters per nine from 2008-2011, bottoming out at almost a walk an inning in 2011. With a simple shift to the far left side of the pitching rubber in early April, Rodney's walk rate plummeted to just 1.8 per nine in 2012, and his earned-run average dropped right along with it.
Rodney ended his incredible season having converted 48 of 50 saves attempts and having allowed just five earned runs overall. The right-hander was also named the AL's 2012 Delivery Man of the Year as baseball's best reliever.
Buster Posey put up such great numbers in 2012 that it's almost easy to forget he missed a majority of the 2011 season after a gruesome home plate collision. Expectations for Posey's return this season were low given the severity of his ankle injury, but Posey was quick to blow away any and all of them. The 25-year-old played in 148 games in 2012 -- splitting time between catcher and first base -- and hit .336/.408/.549 with 24 home runs and 103 RBI, good for an NL-best 172 OPS+.