DUNEDIN, Fla. -- If everything breaks right for the Blue Jays in 2017, they should have several candidates in the mix for some major hardware at the end of the season.As part of its season preview series, MLB.com is taking a look at possible award winners on each of Major
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- If everything breaks right for the Blue Jays in 2017, they should have several candidates in the mix for some major hardware at the end of the season.
As part of its season preview series, MLB.com is taking a look at possible award winners on each of Major League Baseball's 30 teams. When it comes to the Blue Jays, it's not hard to find players who might contend.
Josh Donaldson has finished top four in voting for the American League Most Valuable Player Award during three of the past four seasons. Jose Bautista is a three-time AL Silver Slugger Award winner and Aaron Sanchez is a potential AL Cy Young Award winner in the making. There is a lot to choose from.
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If Donaldson remains healthy this season, he's a virtual lock to receive some consideration for the MVP and the Esurance Player of the Year Award. Donaldson's first full season in the Majors was back in 2013 and since then he has never finished lower than eighth in voting for the MVP. Donaldson is coming off a season in which he hit .284/.404/.549 with 37 homers, and more of the same is expected in 2017.
Bautista won't enter the season as a favorite to win any of those awards, but after a down season in 2016, he will be plenty motivated to get back to his previous level. Another big season could offset some of the money he lost during the offseason and a return to form might put him in the mix for a Silver Slugger Award, but the only way that will be possible is if he stays healthy.
Every member of the starting rotation has the upside to go on a type of run that would warrant consideration for awards, but the clear top pick is Sanchez. The 24-year-old led the AL with a 3.00 ERA last season and he likely would have received some consideration for the Cy Young if he didn't have to deal with several of his starts being skipped because of an innings limit. Sanchez technically opens the year as the club's No. 5 starter, but that had to do with preparation for the season more than anything else, and by all accounts, he is the ace of this staff.
The AL Rookie of the Year Award won't include any Blue Jays. The club is not going to begin the season with any prominent rookies and all of their top prospects aren't expected to contribute until at least the second half of the year, and more realistically, not until 2018. For Gold Gloves, Kevin Pillar, Troy Tulowitzki, Russell Martin and Marcus Stroman could all be under consideration before the season is out.
Of course, none of this will be easy. Michael Trout seems to enter every season as the odds-on favorite to win the MVP. Boston's Chris Sale is most people's preseason pick for the AL Cy Young Award, but the reality is these predictions are calculated guesses more than anything else. If Toronto is in the mix this year, the awards will certainly follow.
Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.