Taking A Look At Recent MLB Comebacks

We never thought it would happen, yet here we are. Andy Pettitte has come out of retirement and signed a $2.5 million deal with the Yankees, shocking baseball fans and the sports world in general. But this only adds to the long list of players who came out of retirement. Some have had success in doing so; and others haven’t. Here’s a look at a few legendary players who tried to come back, and well, you’ll see how they fared:

SP Roger Clemens (2004, 2006, 2007) – The king of comebacks (sorry Brett Favre), Clemens’ last start was supposed to be Game 5 of the 2003 World Series. His real last start was Game 3 of the 2007 ALDS. Un-retiring three times, pitching for the Astros from ’04-’06, and returning to baseball mid-season for the Yankees in 2007, Clemens would win 44 games and actually capture the 2005 N.L. Cy Young, posting a 1.87 ERA in 32 starts in his age 42 season. Of course he is an alleged PED-user (I personally think he’s guilty), so it’s unclear how natural and real those stats were.

2B Ryne Sandberg (1996) – Ryno was released by the Cubs right before a strike ended the 1994 season, and a divorce on top of it all made Sandberg walk away at the age of 34. Remarried, and baseball back on track with a new CBA, he would return in 1996 and hit 25 home runs and drive in 92 runs. He’d also play in 1997, hitting better average-wise but hitting just 12 home runs.

SP Jim Palmer (1991) – Retiring during the middle of the 1984 campaign, Palmer walked away from baseball with an impressive 268 wins. In fact elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1990, Palmer seriously was attempting to return. More Pettitte-esque than the others, he would sign a non-guaranteed deal with the Orioles in 1991. After pitching in two games in the spring and topping out at 75 MPH, the 45-year old decided he just didn’t have it anymore and decided to stay retired.

Of course, these three players’ results are far different from each other and far different from Pettitte’s situation. But they are well-known names, that thought it wasn’t quite time to hang it up. But besides Clemens in 2005, a lot of the guys not listed never could get back to what they were, nor be a serviceable player. I’m hoping for the best for Andy, as he’s one of my favorite Yankees of all-time, and I’m pumped about his return. However, he’ll need to defy history and age to get back to (in my book) the standards he once held as a future Hall of Famer.

Posted on March 23, 2012, in Player Analysis and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Growing up with not many games in the NL being televised as we have today still Ryne Sandberg is who I tried to be like any chance I got to play second base. He was one of my favorites to see.

  2. Brian…
    I was going to post a comment about your fine post but, it was a subjective comment that may have been taken the wrong way.
    See people, I am learning that PC thing, of course I call it, the BS stuff.
    Anyhow Brian, I like your input and your youth and enthusiasm for the game…you should join in more with comments on some of the topics posted here.
    Obviously, some old guy (I don’t know who) that may disagree with you would call you a wet behind the ears wiper snapper. lol
    Don’t let yourself be swayed from your “base”, you have a lot to offer this blog. I think you will agree, we try never to make a disagreement a personnel thing, and besides, as old as I am, I still learn things every day…I think the reason I try to learn every day is because, I was told once: “The day you quit learning is ………………!”. 🙂

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