Forget rookie of the year. Mike Trout clinched that in May. Now the Los Angeles Angels outfielder is doing the same in the debate for American League MVP.
Despite spending most of April in the minors, Trout leads the majors in runs (96) and steals (39). Entering Tuesday's games, he is second in baseball in OPS (1.013), leads the AL in batting average (.343) and has 24 home runs and 70 RBIs.
There are only two other players worthy of consideration. Despite a July fade, Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton still has MVP numbers (.936 OPS, .287 BA, 34 HRs, 102 RBIs). Those of Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera are even better (.988/.331/31/104).
The only area where Trout seemingly falls short is the power numbers. But prorate his stats over a full season, and he's close to the competition even there. While we're on the subject, just for fun, let's prorate Trout's stats over an entire season. We'll give him two games off and here's what he would have over 160 games: 39 home runs, 155 runs, 113 RBIs and 63 stolen bases.
Those are more than MVP numbers. Those are historic.
At age 21, Trout would be youngest MVP in history, a year and 18 days younger than Vida Blue, who won the award 41 years ago. He would become the third player to win the award in his rookie season. Red Sox outfielder Fred Lynn was the first in 1975. The second comes with an asterisk. Ichiro Suzuki was a 27-year-old "rookie," already established as a superstar in Japan.
Since they both have ties to Southern California, the Trout-Lynn comparison is gaining momentum, but largely as a cautionary tale. The often-injured Lynn never realized the potential suggested by his spectacular rookie year.
"Playing in Boston on such a big stage, everybody thought, 'Gee, what is he going to do next year, run for president?'?" Lynn told the Los Angeles Times. "I had high expectations of myself, but what expectations other people put on you, those can be difficult to live up to."
- Kevin Dunleavy