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Rockies reliever Daniel Bard named National League comeback player of year

Rockies relief pitcher Daniel Bard began 2020 just hoping to hook up with a team and prove he could still pitch in the big leagues after an absence of more than seven years.

Thursday, another chapter to his remarkable story was added when he was named National League comeback player of the year in the 2020 Players Choice Awards. The award, sponsored by the MLB Players Association, is especially meaningful because it’s voted on by Bard’s peers.

“I was just hoping for one more chance to compete and play the game,” said Bard, who overcame a severe case of the yips to become the Rockies’ closer by the end of the season. “To be recognized by my peers has to be the highest honor I could imagine and something I never expected when I started this journey.”

In other awards news, Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado was named a finalist for another Gold Glove Award. Arenado is likely headed to his eighth consecutive Gold Glove. The other finalists are Miami’s Brian Anderson and San Diego’s Manny Machado.

Charlie Blackmon was also named a Gold Glove finalist in right field, along with Los Angeles’ Mookie Betts and Chicago’s Jason Heyward and Arizona’s Kole Calhoun.

Rockies shortstop Trevor Story was not a Gold Glove finalist. Although Story made a number of spectacular plays during the 60-game season and showed great range, he also committed 10 errors and finished with a .961 fielding percentage, by far the lowest of his five-year career. The three finalists are Chicago’s Javier Báez, Miami’s Miguel Rojas and Atlanta’s Dansby Swanson.

Bard, 35, the 28th overall pick in the 2006 draft, made his big-league debut with Boston in 2009 and posted an impressive 2.88 ERA over 197 innings, averaging 9.7 strikeouts per nine innings. But then he began battling control issues and posted a 6.22 ERA in 2012. Before his comeback with Colorado, he had last pitched in the majors in 2013 and in the minor leagues in 2017.

Bard finished the 2020 season with a 3.65 ERA across 23 games (24 2/3 innings) and converted six saves in six opportunities.

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