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Cotton could bid for AL Rookie of Year

March 29, 2017

MESA, Ariz. -- The A's may be lacking star power on their roster, but there are a handful of players who could sneak their way into the mix for regular-season awards with standout performances in 2017.Here are some candidates who could win some hardware for their performances this season.Jharel Cotton

MESA, Ariz. -- The A's may be lacking star power on their roster, but there are a handful of players who could sneak their way into the mix for regular-season awards with standout performances in 2017.
Here are some candidates who could win some hardware for their performances this season.
Jharel Cotton
The right-hander has the talent to turn in the kind of breakthrough performance that warrants consideration for the American League Rookie of the Year Award. Cotton will have a leg up on some of his competition, having started his Major League service clock last September, which allowed him to gain experience that will surely help him on the mound when he resumes play.
Cotton dazzled during this time, pitching to a 2.15 ERA in five starts for the A's, who acquired him in the trade that sent starter Rich Hill and outfielder Josh Reddick to the Dodgers. Cotton will enter the season as the club's No. 3 starter, behind Kendall Graveman and Sean Manaea.
Cotton will have stiff competition in this race, notably among players like Red Sox left fielder Andrew Benintendi and White Sox infielder Yoan Moncada. Rays right-hander Jose De Leon is also expected to be in this battle.
Sonny Gray
The right-hander will begin the season on the disabled list with a right lat strain, but the A's are confident they'll have their ace back in the rotation by the end of April, giving him plenty of time to put together a season worthy of the AL Comeback Player of Year Award.

Gray was bit by the injury bug last year, hitting the disabled list for the first time in his career. The right-hander endured two separate stints on the DL, and his health issues are thought to have contributed to his overall numbers, going 5-11 with a 5.69 ERA in 22 starts. Just one year prior, Gray was an All-Star and an AL Cy Young Award candidate.
Yonder Alonso
Even though his defensive metrics were down last year, Alonso ended the season ranked second among AL first basemen with a .9967 fielding percentage, having committed just four errors in 1,229 chances. That was the second best fielding percentage by a first baseman in Oakland history, only to Mark McGwire's .9969 in 1991.

Alonso's defensive metrics will have to improve for him to jump into consideration for an AL Gold Glove Award, but it's worth keeping an eye on. Mitch Moreland took home the honor among AL first basemen last year, with the Royals' Eric Hosmer claiming it in each of the previous three seasons.

Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010.