WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Can lefty Dallas Keuchel find his Cy Young touch? Can Jose Altuve break through and win a Most Valuable Player Award? Maybe manager A.J. Hinch wins the American League Manager of the Year after finishing second in 2015.The Astros, loaded and poised to contend in
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Can lefty Dallas Keuchel find his Cy Young touch? Can Jose Altuve break through and win a Most Valuable Player Award? Maybe manager A.J. Hinch wins the American League Manager of the Year after finishing second in 2015.
The Astros, loaded and poised to contend in the AL, have no shortage of candidates who should be up for some major awards this year, led by Altuve. He finished third in the AL MVP voting last year behind Michael Trout of the Angels and Mookie Betts of the Red Sox.
Still, Altuve racked up the hardware, winning his third Silver Slugger after winning his first AL Gold Glove the year before. Altuve figures to be in contention for all those awards, including the Esurance Player of the Year, entering a season in which he will turn 27 years old in May.
The competition for AL MVP figures to be fierce again, though, with Trout not going anywhere and guys like Jose Cabrera, Josh Donaldson and Manny Machado still in their primes.
Astros outfielder George Springer could be a dark horse in the MVP race, but should be very much in the Gold Glove Award debate with him moving to center field full-time this year, though he will get a few starts in right field as well.
Keuchel roared to the Cy Young Award in 2015, but slumped last year as he battled shoulder discomfort all season. The bearded one appeared to be healthy and more confident during the spring, which could set him up for another big year and perhaps a Cy Young or Esurance Pitcher of the Year Award. The Astros are hoping he bounces back, much like Corey Kluber did for the Indians last season following his down year in 2015 coming off a Cy Young Award-winning '14 campaign.
There is no shortage of top-notch arms in the AL who should contend for the Cy Young Award, including 2016 winner Rick Porcello, 2011 winner Justin Verlander and Chris Sale.
Of course, a strong season by the Astros would put Hinch in the running for the AL Manager of the Year Award. Hinch is 170-154 in his two years with the Astros, including a playoff berth in 2015.
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.