If you are a sports fan, you would know that everyone wants to see a good comeback story. We like to watch a guy pick himself up off the ground and get back to what he or she once was.
This MLB season is full of intriguing comeback stories. Some players are working their way back from injuries, while others are hoping to get back to their top-notch production.
They’re all worth keeping an eye on in spring training and beyond. Not every comeback will be successful, but they’ll all be compelling by definition.
Matt Harvey, RHP
We could be talking about the entire New York Mets starting rotation for this one. Ace Noah Syndergaard took the next step to greatness, but the rest of the Mets arms faltered.
Matt Harvey, Steven Matz and Jacob deGrom each had season-ending injuries, with Harvey’s being the worst. Harvey is coming off a procedure for thoracic outlet syndrome, a rare condition with mixed recovery results.
The Dark Knight also missed all of 2014 because of Tommy John surgery. But he’s managed some impressive results in between. Now he needs a full, productive year before he can shed the inevitable “injury-prone” label.
The Mets are banking on Harvey getting back to being the dominant leader of 2015.
Eric Thames, 1B
In 2012, Eric Thames was a 25-year-old middling Major League player with average numbers. Then, he went to Korea and proceeded to do a credible Barry Bonds impression.
In four seasons there, Thames hit .347 with a 1.162 OPS and 126 home runs in 397 games. Now, Thames is back in the big leagues, landing a three-year, $16 million deal with the Milwaukee Brewers.
Will those numbers overseas translate to success with the Brew Crew? While there is no guarantee, there is precedent in Cecil Fielder and others that played overseas to have good to great MLB careers.
Mike Moustakas, 3B
Moustakas was one of the main cogs of the Royals World Series teams in 2013 and 2014. He was limited to 27 games with the Kansas City Royals by a knee injury in 2016. Moustakas was on his way to a career year at that point, slugging seven home runs during that brief stint. He is healthy again, and is entering a contract year with a chance to prove he’s back and to cash in next winter.
Zack Greinke, RHP
Greinke led MLB with a 1.66 ERA in 2015. He proceeded to sign a six-year, $206.5 million deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks and then he had his worst season in some time.
The 33-year-old right-hander posted a 4.37 ERA in his first season with Arizona and a 6.02 ERA in the second half while battling an oblique injury. Although the Diamondbacks are a fringe contender at best, they’re praying for a Greinke rebirth to help them get over the hump.
Sonny Gray, RHP
Gray was a top-three American League Cy Young Award finisher in 2015. However, he posted a 5.69 ERA last season and made two trips to the disabled list. He pitched for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic, a good indicator that he’s on the path back.
The Oakland A’s don’t figure to be strong postseason contenders. If Gray performs to his 2015 level, he will certainly be a hot commodity at the trade deadline.
Greg Holland, RHP
Holland was a two-time All-Star and one of the best closers in baseball in 2013 and 2014 with the Kansas City Royals. However, he missed the entire 2016 season recovering from Tommy John surgery.
Holland signed a one-year, incentive-laden deal with the Colorado Rockies. We all know Coors Field isn’t where pitchers go to rebuild their value. If the 31-year-old Holland can get back to his Royal dominance, he can parlay to a big deal in 2018.