End of year countdown: Mike Trout atop best-player list in 2012

Another day, another acknowledgment of Mike Trout’s tremendous 2012 season.

As the year winds down to its official close next Monday, we shift from season’s greetings to best-of list countdowns. Here’s one more to add to the list of lists — my top 12 baseball players in 2012:

1.  Mike Trout  – Unquestionably the most valuable player in baseball this year, the AL Rookie of the Year compiled 10.7 bWAR to join Barry Bonds and Adrian Beltre as the only players in this millennium to have a 10-win season.

2. Miguel Cabrera – The first Triple Crown winner since Carl Yastrzemski has surpassed Albert Pujols as the best hitter in the game.

3. Ryan Braun – 2012 was another banner year for Braun, who topped the Senior Circuit with 108 runs, 41 long balls, 356 total bases and a .987 OPS.

4. Buster Posey – The NL MVP led the major leagues in OPS+ and batting average, becoming the first NL catcher to win a batting title since Ernie Lombardi 70 years ago.

5. Andrew McCutchen – Emerged as a superstar last year by challenging Posey for the batting title, setting personal bests in almost every category and leading the National League in hits, oWAR and times on base.

6. Robinson Cano – Piled up 8.2 bWAR while setting or matching career highs in runs, doubles, homers, walks, slugging, OPS, OPS+, total bases, and extra base hits. In most years, that performance would be good enough to win MVP, but not in 2012.

7. Josh Hamilton – Hammered 43 home runs, knocked in 128 runs, slugged .577 and homered once every 13.1 at-bats, placing second among American Leaguers in all four categories.

8. Adrian Beltre – Batted .321, belted 36 home runs and received another Gold Glove for his defensive prowess at the hot corner.

9. Justin Verlander – The 2011 AL MVP and Cy Young winner is still the best pitcher on the planet.

10. Prince Fielder –The power numbers weren’t quite what we’ve come to expect from the hefty slugger, but he still batted a robust .313/.412/.528, walked more than he struck out and played all 162 games in his Detroit debut.

11. Joey Votto – Missed a third of the season with a torn meniscus but posted monster numbers when healthy. His 94 walks led the National League, as did his eye-popping .474 OBP, and his 44 doubles ranked second to Aramis Ramirez.

12. Yadier Molina – The best defensive backstop in baseball had a case for NL MVP after batting .315, slugging 22 home runs and leading his St. Louis Cardinals to within one game of their second straight World Series. It’s close between him and Posey, really close, but I’d rather have Posey’s bat.

Honorable Mentions: Clayton KershawR.A. DickeyChase HeadleyDavid WrightMatt Kemp

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