In 2015, the Boston Red Sox finished fifth in the Eastern Division for the second consecutive year. After winning the World Series in 2013, Boston have struggled to live up to the hype and have slipped out of playoff contention in recent times.

However, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic ahead of the upcoming campaign and it’s only a matter of time before the Red Sox are fighting for a ninth World Series title. We take a look at just a few of the reasons why Boston supporters may be celebrating a major success at the end of the 2016 season.

Last season, Rick Porcello was extremely disappointing and Boston will be hoping that the righty can regain some form and confidence before the new season gets under way. Porcello was phenomenal in 2014, posting a 3.43 ERA in 32 outings for the franchise. But he struggled to produce on a similar scale and crawled to a miserable 4.92 ERA on 28 starts last season.

Porcello is a key player for Boston and many are expecting a much improved season. In fact, the Red Sox are at the time of writing valued at 10/1 in Bet365’s MLB odds and Porcello’s projections are a big reason for their expected resurgence to power.

Furthermore, special defensive outfielder and fan favorite Jackie Bradley Jr. may also have an integral role to play in Boston’s rise to the top. In 2014, Bradley was named as one of the finalists for the American League Gold Glove award but has struggled to inspire confidence with the bat at times. Is 2016 his time to shine? Possibly so.

Bradley has shown enough about him to suggest that he is talented but he just needs to improve both his awareness and knowledge of certain situations. Let’s face it, he’s never going to hit over 20 home runs this season but it is crucial for Bradley to improve and help to keep the scoreboard ticking over. If he performs as many are expecting, he will be a key part of Boston’s side – both with the bat and in the field.

Finally, we have Rafael Devers. At just 19 years old, he’s raw and inexperienced that boy sure can play. In fact, Major League Baseball rank him as number two on their list of third base prospects – with only Joey Gallo, who has briefly performed in the majors, ranked ahead of him. Nowadays, it’s very rare to see such a youngster make it on the big stage and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see Devers earn some time with the majors in 2016.

Devers isn’t the complete package just yet, in fact he’s far from it. However, he is the kind of player who can come into the majors and help the Red Sox take the plight to the next level.

Can the Red Sox do much worse? Not really. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with giving youngsters an opportunity to prove themselves, providing that the coaches trust them and they have enough about them – Devers does.

So, with the likes of Porcello, Bradley and Devers in fine form, could the Red Sox win the World Series this season? It will take some turnaround but, with a bit of luck, there’s absolutely no reason why not – and these three players COULD be the big difference for Boston throughout the campaign.