FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The 2017 Red Sox have the look of a team that should keep busy during the month of October, and one of the side benefits of reaching that level of success would be a November of trophies.The ultimate goal is always a parade, but to get
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The 2017 Red Sox have the look of a team that should keep busy during the month of October, and one of the side benefits of reaching that level of success would be a November of trophies.
The ultimate goal is always a parade, but to get there, some starry performances are generally needed throughout the year.
Here is a look at five Red Sox players who are most likely to be in the running for top awards.
It is hard not to feel good about Benintendi's chances of being a top contender for the American League Rookie of the Year Award. Not many rookie-eligible players come into a season with the credentials Benintendi already has. The top prospect in baseball according to MLBPipeline.com was a regular for the Red Sox down the stretch after his promotion from Double-A last year, slashing .295/.359/.476. in 105 at-bats. He is slated to bat second in a strong Boston batting order this season.
The outfielder does everything for the Red Sox, and last year, it was nearly enough for him to win the American League Most Valuable Player Award in just his second full season. Betts finished second to Michael Trout for the coveted trophy last year. At the age of 24, there's reason to believe Betts can still get better. Look for the electrifying right-handed hitter to also be a finalist for the Esurance Player of the Year Award, which covers both leagues. Last year, Betts won the Wilson Award as the top defender in the game and a Rawlings Gold Glove Award for his excellence in right field. Look for him to be in contention again for those two awards.
You might be hard-pressed to find a pundit who will forecast a second straight Cy Young Award season for the sinkerballer. Perhaps he will prove a lot of people wrong. Since Porcello has been a fixture in Major League rotations since 2009, it's hard to remember that he is still just 28 years old. Few pitchers have a better work ethic than Porcello. He at least belongs in the conversation of candidates for the award he won last year.
All eyes will be on the power lefty as he changes his Sox from white to red. In the past five seasons, Sale has finished in the top six for the AL Cy Young Award but has never ranked higher than third. That could change this season. Also, look for Sale to be in the conversation for the Esurance Best Starting Pitcher. The ultimate competitor, Sale should thrive pitching for an intense fan base that demands peak performance. It will be interesting to see how much Sale's performance will improve playing for a top contender and with a stronger infield and outfield defense behind him. With David Price out indefinitely with a left elbow strain, the Red Sox are looking for peak performance from Sale.
To Sandoval's credit, he has gotten himself in much better shape, and it looks to be paying off. Sandoval has looked rejuvenated throughout Grapefruit League action, and he is in strong position to be a top contender to win the AL Comeback Player of the Year Award. Sandoval was limited to three games last season due to a left shoulder injury, and he had the worst season of his career in 2015. In other words, there is nowhere for him to go but up.
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.