FORT MYERS, Fla. — Maybe it’s the way Mookie Betts looks when he finally exits the ballpark that leaves Boston Red Sox players and coaches raving about his focus and preparation.

His backpack hanging over his sluggish shoulders, he takes small, jagged steps from the clubhouse to the gated parking lot, his head fixed on the sidewalk in front of him.

“See ya, Mookie!” a bystander hollered out Thursday.

The exhausted Betts didn’t even turn his head. He said nothing, just lifting his arm and waving.

If the 23-year-old has any energy left by the end of a spring training workout, he doesn’t show it.

He finished 19th in American League MVP voting last year, hitting .291 with 42 doubles, eight triples, 18 home runs and 21 stolen bases, making acrobatic plays in the outfield. But he still won’t take it easy, not even in a routine February workout.

“Obviously I think I can do better,” he said.

Betts was one of the youngest players in the majors in 2015. Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Xander Bogaerts and Addison Russell were the only other players 22 or younger to register enough at-bats to qualify for a batting title. Betts endured slumps, played through minor injuries, started games in five spots in the lineup and openly accepted the club’s desire to move him from center field to right field to make room for Jackie Bradley Jr. late in the year.

What if the Sox offense plays like it did last fall, when it finished the final two months as the second-highest scoring group in the big leagues? Betts could be an MVP candidate.

“Taking a step back, I think I did pretty well for my first season,” Betts said. “Even though I had a long, long stretch of struggling, I bounced back pretty well and learned from that. Hopefully I can eliminate that long stretch and not necessarily win the MVP, but win some games and a World Series.”

Pressed on an MVP candidacy, Betts said: “It’s not something I necessarily want to set out to get.”

But even if he isn’t a slam-dunk candidate like Harper, who hit 42 homers with a .330 average last year, Betts has more of an Andrew McCutchen-like appeal.

McCutchen has been a top-five vote-getter in each of the last four seasons because of his overall game, hitting 21 home runs with 27 steals and a .317 average when he won in 2013. But McCutchen is one of the game’s best role models. He won the Roberto Clemente Award last season.

Here’s another MVP comparison: Dustin Pedroia. He won the award in 2008, when he hit .326 with 17 homers and 20 steals while playing Gold Glove defense at second base.

“I want to be the best as far as the best teammate, getting the job done, that kind of thing,” Betts said. “Basically it’s the same mindset Pedroia has. He wants to be the best at everything. And he is. He wants to be the best teammate, one of the best hitters, one of the best defenders. That’s kind of what my mindset is.”

When the Red Sox began sinking last summer, enduring a seven-game losing streak in June and a five-game losing streak in July, the atmosphere in the clubhouse could have been confused for a counseling group for grieving adults. But after every game, no matter how ugly the loss, there were Betts and Bogaerts, always standing at their lockers and willing to answer questions while some higher-paid veterans snuck out.

“The aptitude is fantastic,” Manager John Farrell said of Betts’ understanding of the major league environment.

Said David Ortiz: “I was like Mookie Betts. He wears me out asking me questions every day – and I love it. I love it because he asks you questions and you give him an answer, and all of a sudden you see that he’s putting that in play. That’s smart.”

Soon Ortiz will be retired and Pedroia will be on the back nine, leaving Betts as a team role models.

“Now may not be the time, but I’m learning each and every day how they do it,” he said. “Maybe one day I’ll put that into action.”

This year the AL MVP won’t be easy to snatch away from last year’s winner, Josh Donaldson, or 2014 winner, Mike Trout. It likely will take a breakout season from a dynamic player, one capable of winning games with his legs, arm, bat and glove.

Someone like Pedroia in ’08.

Betts might not be thinking about the MVP but he’s acting like one, and the Red Sox have taken notice.