The candidates for MLB Comeback Player of the Year for 2019 have been released, and to the surprise of practically nobody, Josh Donaldson is among them. The others are a healthy mix of youngsters and veterans, with guys like Hunter Pence, Sonny Gray and Hyun-Jin Ryu up alongside the likes of Lucas Giolito and even Jorge Soler.
And among all of the players the Atlanta Braves' third baseman is competing with for the award, he perhaps has the strongest case.
Donaldson practically came back from baseball purgatory this year. In 2018, he had more or less been cast aside by the league. Injuries had been keeping him off of the field, and he finished the year playing just 52 games and logging a modest .801 OPS, his lowest mark since 2014.
The Braves ended up being the one team willing to take a chance on him, and he rewarded them in a big way. The former AL MVP was a force of nature at the plate, slashing .259/.379/.521 with 37 home runs and an impressive 6.1 WAR according to Baseball-Reference.
In fact, he had the most WAR of any player up for the award. And the even more impressive part is that he did it all on a one-year "prove it" deal.
Though he was just one of many offensive stars for the Braves this year, he was arguably the most vital. Donaldson provided some consistent pop in the middle of the order that most teams would kill for.
Donaldson has clawed his way back from a deeper pit than any of the other players competing for the honor have. He fully deserves to be recognized for re-establishing himself as one of the best position players in the entire league.