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Berkman, Ellsbury win MLB comeback player awards

St. Louis Cardinals' Lance Berkman, second from left, is congratulated by teammates, left to right, Matt Holliday, Kyle Lohse, Chris Carpenter and Ryan Theriot after hitting a walk-off single to defeat the Philadelphia Phillies 2-1 during the ninth inning on May 17, 2011, in St. Louis.
AP Photo/Jeff Roberson

NEW YORK - Lance Berkman of the St. Louis Cardinals and Jacoby Ellsbury of the Boston Red Sox are baseball's comeback players of the year.

Ellsbury played just 18 games in 2010 because of injuries. The outfielder posted career highs in nearly every offensive category this season to earn the American League honor. He hit .321 with 32 home runs, 105 RBIs and 39 stolen bases.

Berkman hit a combined .248 with 14 home runs and 58 RBIs between the Houston Astros and New York Yankees in 2010.

According to CBSSports.com's Matt Snyder, Berkman was out of shape, slow and had lost tons of bat speed. "Then the Cardinals signed him and told him he was going to play right field. That, in combination with reported embarrassment over his drastic loss in performance, caused Berkman to significantly step up his offseason training regimen," Snyder says. It paid off. This season, he batted .301 with 31 home runs and 94 RBIs for the Cardinals, who are in the NLCS.

The 30 team beat reporters from MLB.com vote for the comeback player awards.

Comeback Players of the Year Since 2005

American League

2011 — Jacoby Ellsbury, Boston

2010 — Francisco Liriano, Minnesota

2009 — Aaron Hill, Toronto

2008 — Cliff Lee, Cleveland

2007 — Carlos Pena, Tampa Bay

2006 — Jim Thome, Chicago

2005 — Jason Giambi, N.Y. Yankees

National League

2011 — Lance Berkman, St. Louis

2010 — Tim Hudson, Atlanta

2009 — Chris Carpenter, St. Louis

2008 — Brad Lidge, Philadelphia

2007 — Dmitri Young, Washington

2006 — Nomar Garciaparra, L.A. Dodgers

2005 — Ken Griffey Jr., Cincinnati