J.D. Martinez's comeback began late in the 2013 season when, while recovering from a wrist injury, he began studying the swings of some of baseball's top right-handed hitters, like Miguel Cabrera, Albert Pujols and Ryan Braun.
Martinez's chances of continuing his career in Houston were pretty much over by then, and he wasn't claimed when the Astros put him on waivers in November. He also wasn't selected in the Rule 5 draft in December.
Undeterred, Martinez went to the Venezuela Winter League to rework his swing. He wanted to lower his hands, close his stance and smooth out his stride.
It worked, and he got another chance when the Astros released him in March and he joined the Tigers.
Martinez's signing became a key to Detroit's first-place finish in the AL Central this season. The 27-year-old left fielder had a breakout season, batting .315 with 23 home runs and 76 RBIs in 480 at-bats and placed fifth in the AL with a .553 slugging percentage.
Victor Martinez, who was joined by J.D. on the Tigers this season, had already established himself in Cleveland and Boston, making the AL All-Star team four times in his previous 11 seasons.
In fairness, he wasn't your typical "comeback" type player. V-Mart batted .301 with 14 homers and 83 RBIs in 159 games for the Tigers last year.
In 2014, however, at age 35, he came roaring back to the very top of his game, batting .335 with 32 homers and 103 RBIs as an ideal complement to Miguel Cabrera in the middle of the Tigers' batting order. He led the AL with a .409 on-base percentage and a .553 on-base-plus-slugging percentage.
Chris Young, a 6-foot-10 right-hander, was a question mark when he joined the Mariners, but the team liked what they saw in the spring.
Young had stellar seasons from 2005 to 2007 with San Diego but had been working himself back from a series of shoulder issues since then. He missed most of 2013 following June surgery to address thoracic outlet syndrome, a nerve ailment that affects the shoulder.
The medical reports were good, however, and the Mariners signed him with the thought that he was a low-risk gamble who could provide veteran leadership on a young staff.
The Princeton graduate did that and much more. He went 12-9 in 29 starts with a 3.65 ERA, giving up just 143 hits in 165 innings for the resurgent Mariners.
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