In a decision that comes as no surprise, Mike Trout captured AL Rookie of the Year honors unanimously when the award was announced Monday night.
The 21-year-old phenom received all 28 first-place votes, with Oakland outfielder Yoenis Cespedes finishing second in the voting and Rangers right-hander Yu Darvish coming in third.
Trout winning the Rookie of the Year was a foregone conclusion after he posted a .326/.399/.564, 30 HR, 83 RBI, 129 R, 49 SB line, leading the majors in runs and steals in what was one of the best all-around seasons ever by a rookie.
The question now is whether Trout can join Fred Lynn (1975) and Ichiro Suzuki (2001) in becoming just the third player to be named both Rookie of the Year and MVP in their debut season.
Trout is one of five finalists for AL MVP (h/t ESPN), joining Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre and center fielder Josh Hamilton, Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano and Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera.
While Beltre, Hamilton and Cano all had fantastic seasons, it really is a two-man race between Trout and Cabrera, and both players can make a terrific case for the award.
Cabrera, who has been one of the best hitters in baseball since he first became an everyday player back in 2004, took his game to another level this past season, as he hit .330/.393/.606 with 44 HR and 139 RBI to become the first Triple Crown winner since Carl Yastrzemski back in 1967.
His historic season helped lead the Tigers to an AL Central title and an eventual AL pennant, while Trout's Angels ranked as one of the season's biggest disappointments and missed the postseason altogether.
After spending big last offseason to bring in Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson, the team was expected to not only earn a postseason trip, but to be legitimate title contenders. While their coming up short is no fault of Trout's, voters often tend to favor players whose team was in the postseason.
However, Trout can make a strong case as well and will have the backing of the sabermetrics crowd, if nothing else, after posting an MLB-best 10.0 WAR.
His stat line likely would have looked even more gaudy if he had been hitting in the middle of the Angels' order, as opposed to leading off, but as it stands, he still has a more complete stat line than Cabrera.
At the end of the day, though, it is not a question of who the best player was, but instead who the most valuable player was to his team, and it is hard to envision the Tigers even reaching the postseason without the season that Cabrera had.
Cabrera has already taken home Sporting News Player of the Year honors, and I think he'll follow that up by being named AL MVP. Trout was terrific, and should be a frontrunner for the award for years to come, but the Triple Crown is a huge accomplishment, and Cabrera did it for the team that wound up capturing the AL pennant. That will simply be too much for the young phenom to overcome in the voting.
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