We all know that the only trophy Red Sox players are worried about is the World Series trophy. Deep down, though, they all want some individual recognition as well. Who among us doesn’t? There are a lot of ways this season can go, but a good year will likely mean some players on this roster will be in contention for some of those awards. Let’s go through each one of them and decide which player is most likely to take that trophy home in November.
We’ll start at the top and make our way down to the less important awards. David Price is one contender for this award, as he’s one of the best pitchers in the game. There’s some narrative advantage here as well, with him coming and potentially "saving" this rotation. Of course, pitchers need to have truly special seasons to win this award, and you can’t bet on any pitcher not named Clayton Kershaw to have that kind of year.
David Ortiz is another name who comes to mind. If he doesn’t suffer a sharp decline, he can put together the traditional stats a certain sect of voters still look for. Then, there’s the ultimate narrative of this being his last season. That could carry a lot of pull if he leads the Red Sox to another postseason berth. This is all just me avoiding the obvious choice, though. If anyone from Boston is going to win MVP, Mookie Betts is the guy to bet on. He’s an all-around talent, who has the skills to produce both with advance metrics and traditional stats. Some preseason hype always helps in this race, too, and there’s no doubt Betts has plenty of that.
The Pick: Mookie Betts
Well, in two of the last three years, Clay Buchholz has looked like one of the best pitchers in the American League when he was healthy. There’s a non-zero chance this is the year he finally stays healthy and puts together his career year. He has the strikeout-to-walk ratio to produce good peripherals, and the ability to induce weak contact, which leads to a low ERA. He’s as good of a pick as anyone.
Yeah, just kidding. Obviously, it’s David Price. In fact, Bovada has him as the odds-on favorite to win the award.
The Pick: David Price
Rookie of the Year
If there’s one award in which there’s virtually no chance the Red Sox will claim the winner, it’s here. The Red Sox are loaded in young talent, but almost all of it is either no longer rookie eligible or isn’t going to hit the majors this season. On the position player side of things, Deven Marrero might be the best choice. Yes, the same Deven Marrero who is unlikely to be anything more than a utility player in both 2016 and in his career. Maybe, maybe there’s a case to be made for Sam Travis. But not really. He won’t be up early enough to make a real impact.
The real answer is likely on the pitching side of things. Henry Owens would've been an easy choice, but he lost his eligibility by 13 innings pitched. Brian Johnson doesn’t seem to have the kind of profile that can break out and have an award-winning type season. At the same time, the chances of that are higher than the chances of a utility infielder winning the award.
The Pick: Brian Johnson
Manager of the Year/Reliever of the Year
I’m putting these together because the picks are obvious, but I still think they’re worth discussing. There’s a universe in which the Red Sox get off to a slow start and subsequently fire John Farrell. Then, they could go on a run with Torey Lovullo and make the playoffs. It’s not too hard to see Lovullo winning the award in this scenario.
Similarly, Craig Kimbrel could get hurt early in the year. (Knock on every piece of wood you can find.) Is there any doubt Koji Uehara or even Carson Smith for that matter could pitch well enough to contend for the Reliever of the Year award that only five people even knew existed? Not really. The picks are still the obvious picks, but there’s at least some wiggle room here.
The Picks: John Farrell/Craig Kimbrel
Comeback Player of the Year
This might be the most interesting award to choose from, which is mostly because the Red Sox were so bad last year. Perhaps Pablo Sandoval comes through with a vintage season of his, coming through in clutch situations and playing solid defense. People would certainly notice this kind of bounce back. Maybe Rick Porcello can parlay his late-season success from last year into a similar full-season performance this year. People would certainly notice this kind of bounce back, particularly on a team that’s perceived to be lacking a clear number two option.
Really, though, Hanley Ramirez is the most obvious pick here. There are so many angles that he’s going to be coming back from. His defense was historically bad last year, and he’s changing positions again. Even an average first base would be a revelation at this point. If he combines that with an offensive season that approaches his ceiling, look out. He’d have the narrative of a player turning his career around, especially with the feel-good stories about his work ethic that would likely be churned out. It’s far from a given, of course, but it feels more likely than Sandoval’s scenario and has more intrigue than Porcello’s.
The Pick: Hanley Ramirez
Now, we move into the awards in which multiple people can win. We’ll still only be picking the most likely player, though. Xander Bogaerts probably comes to mind first. He’s coming off a great offensive season and plays a position where offensive skills are lacking. However, there was some flukiness to his season last year. It can be fixed, but it’s easier said than done. Even if you believe he can put together a less fluky but still good season (and I do, for what it’s worth) the presence of Carlos Correa makes things a bit more difficult.
Mookie Betts was the MVP pick, so it’d make sense to include him here. Unfortunately, his value comes from a well-rounded skill set that includes defense and base running, neither of which help here. He also plays in the outfield where many of the premiere hitters in the game reside.
No, the best pick is Ortiz. Again, the narrative of his last season comes into play. More importantly, he plays a position that is changing. There aren’t many other full-time DH’s to contend with. Edwin Encarnacion is certainly a formidable opponent, but if Ortiz has an Ortiz-like season, it’s easy to see him coming out on top.
The Pick: David Ortiz
I’ll make this quick since I’m running long and this one is relatively simple. There’s only one pick here, and it’s Jackie Bradley. Honestly, the only concern may be whether his bat plays well enough to keep him in the lineup every day. There’s no denying he’s an elite, elite defensive outfielder. Christian Vazquez could be some competition if he was playing every day, but we all know that’s not happening to start the year.
The Pick: Jackie Bradley
You heard it here first. The Red Sox are winning every award this season, and they’ll somehow do it with a different player taking home each award. There’s no point in even watching the season, just take my word for it.