Detroit Placido Polanco's tumbling catch that separated his left shoulder in August led to the low point of his career.
A month later, he said his year was over.
Polanco not only made it back, he won the AL championship series MVP award and helped put the Detroit Tigers in the World Series for the first time since 1984.
"It's the best moment of my career," he said. "I wonder how my parents feel in the Dominican. It's very special."
Polanco had three hits, including a ninth-inning single two pitches ahead of Magglio Ordonez's pennant-winning homer in Detroit's 6-3 victory in Game 4 over the Oakland Athletics on Saturday.
"That guy's a pain," A's closer Huston Street said. "My pitch wasn't a very good pitch, but it seemed like he hit a lot of good pitches in this series."
Polanco was selected MVP after batting .529 (9-for-17) in the four-game sweep and extending his postseason hitting streak to nine games - dating back to 2001 with St. Louis.
"There's no doubt about it, we wouldn't have been here without Placido," Tigers closer Todd Jones said. "For the non-baseball people that don't know how good he is, hopefully the ALCS MVP will shine some light on him. I was with him in Philly, and he was having a hard time getting some playing time because of some guy named Chase Utley."
On a team full of free swingers, the contact-hitting Polanco was a perfect fit in his second season with the Tigers.
The 5-foot-10, 194-pound Polanco said he has used the same approach at the plate since he began playing in the Dominican Republic.
"Look at my size. I'm not going to hit home runs," he said in a champagne-drenched clubhouse. "I just try to make contact."
He has done more than try in the playoffs, with a .470 batting average.