Mike Trout is one of the three finalists for the 2013 American League Most Valuable Player award. But let’s not kid ourselves. Trout is not going to win the MVP this year. If he couldn’t win it last year, when he was worth 10.9 bWAR and led the majors in runs and steals, all while playing superlative defense in center field, then he’s not going to win it this year.
Not with Miguel Cabrera and Chris Davis standing in his way. Mike Trout will be lucky to get a first-place vote.
It’s sad to see Trout not get the kind of recognition his special season deserves. He was every bit as good as he was during his exceptional rookie season, and in some respects a bit better. He walked more and struck out less, showing improved command of the strike zone in his second full season. Trout led the league in runs, walks and wins above replacement. He surpassed 10 WAR again (per FanGraphs), which makes him the first player with back-to-back ten win seasons since a pumped-up Barry Bonds did it during his second prime.
What makes Mike Trout’s success even more impressive is his age. He’s barely 22, an age when most of his peers are graduating from college. Nobody’s ever been this good, this young before. Not Ted Williams, Alex Rodriguez or Mickey Mantle–the player with whom he is most frequently compared.
Nobody in the game today can match his combination of elite speed, defense and offensive ability, either. Mike Trout is a five-tool player in the same mold as Ken Griffey Jr. and Willie Mays. There’s so many ways he can beat you–with his bat, glove and legs. But Mike Trout’s act had lost some of its luster to the writers in baseball.
He wasn’t as flashy, didn’t rob home runs or lead the world in steals. He was no longer the new kid on the block, not with Yasiel Puig doing something amazing every night on the other side of town. Not with the disappointing Angels getting the Mets’ treatment in the City of Angels, where the Dodgers became the toast of the town after ripping off 42 wins in a 50-game span over the summer. Not that any of that was Trout’s fault, of course. He couldn’t control Josh Hamilton sucking, Albert Pujols getting hurt and the pitching staff falling apart, much less control how well the Dodgers played.