Mariano Rivera, Francisco Liriano win Comeback Player of the Year awards

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

The two players took different paths to the award, but both were deserving.

New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera and Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Francisco Liriano won the AL and NL Comeback Player of the Year awards Monday night.

Rivera, arguably the best closer to ever play the game, missed nearly all of the 2012 season after sustaining a torn ACL. He came back strong in 2013, collecting 44 saves while posting a 2.11 ERA and 1.05 WHIP over 64 appearances. He struck our 54 batters while walking just nine. Rivera retired following the end of the season.

While the award is usually given to a player like Rivera, who came back from an injury, it can also be given to a player who reemerged from previous struggles. Such was the case with Liriano.  After a 5.34 ERA in a 2012 season split between the Twins and White Sox, Liriano caught on with Pittsburgh in 2013. He posted his best season since 2006, leading the Pirates to a postseason appearance with a 3.02 ERA and 163 strikeouts over 161 innings.

Liriano became the first player to ever win the award twice. He also won in 2010 with the Twins when he bounced back from a dreadful 2009 season to post a 3.62 ERA over 31 starts.

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