Porcello is Players Choice as AL's top pitcher

Right-hander went 22-4 in second season with Red Sox

Porcello is Players Choice as AL's top pitcher

BOSTON -- Rick Porcello's breakout season made an impression on his peers. On Wednesday night, the Red Sox's ace sinkerballer was recognized as the American League's Outstanding Pitcher in the 25th annual Players Choice Awards.

Porcello, 27, beat out Indians ace Corey Kluber and Orioles closer Zach Britton.

Esurance MLB Awards week concludes Friday on MLB Network and MLB.com at 8 p.m. ET with the MLB Awards. Categories include Best Major Leaguer, Hitter, Pitcher, Rookie and Manager, and recognize overall MLB winners with no league distinction.

The accolade came two days after Porcello was announced as one of three finalists for the AL Cy Young Award. While the Baseball Writers' Association of America selects the Cy Young winner, MLB players vote on the Players Choice Awards.

"Honestly, to me, that's the ultimate," Porcello said in an interview on MLB Network. "These are the guys you're competing against on a night-to-night basis. To have the respect from them to have them vote for me and win this award pretty much means everything to me. They see everything, a lot of things, that as a writer or an average fan, you can't see.

"They see in-game stuff and how you carry yourself, and that definitely goes into how you vote for certain guys. That, and the fact they feel I performed the best, I'm very thankful for it."

Porcello will find out the results of the Cy Young Award voting on Nov. 16. He is competing with Kluber and former teammate Justin Verlander in that category.

Porcello's 22nd victory

In 2015, Porcello's first season with the Red Sox, he was a disappointing 9-15 with a 4.92 ERA. When the righty followed that up by posting a 9.77 ERA in four Spring Training starts, there was little reason for anyone to project Porcello would be one of the best pitchers in the game this past season.

However, Porcello knew he was on the right track.

"I felt like my struggles in '15 were directly related to an inconsistent delivery, and that was what was causing me to miss locations and throw pitches in the middle of the plate," Porcello said. "First and foremost in the offseason, my main priority was to iron out my delivery again and get back to some of the little things, some of the basic checkpoints that I have.

"Really, Spring Training was the biggest part for me because I was just focusing on my delivery. I didn't care where the ball was going. I had some things I wanted to execute every time I went to the mound and I just focused on that. I really had a terrible spring, but kind of staying on track with focusing on the mechanical stuff in my delivery and not worrying about the results I think allowed me to get in a position once the season started to build off of that. I think that's what allowed me to be consistent throughout the whole course of the year."

In 33 starts, Porcello posted a 22-4 record and a 3.15 ERA. Over 223 innings, he notched 189 strikeouts while walking just 32. The Red Sox were 25-8 in Porcello's starts, and 17-3 in his last 20.

"I was fortunate to have a phenomenal team playing behind me and putting up the runs they were putting up," Porcello said. "I got on a roll and built my momentum, and it was just kind of that perfect storm that everything was really working out for me this year. I'm pretty grateful for the season I had and I don't want to put the pressure on myself to try to do better than that. I would love to be able to just replicate that again."

Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts was a finalist for two Players Choice Awards -- the AL's Outstanding Player and MLB's Player of the Year. He was beaten out by Astros hit machine Jose Altuve in both of those categories. Slugger David Ortiz, who is retiring, was also a finalist for the AL's Outstanding Player.

Betts is one of three finalists for the AL's Most Valuable Player Award, which will be announced on Nov. 17.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.