SEATTLE -- September is all about the Angels as a whole, and how they can use it to catapult themselves back into the race and ultimately be a part of the postseason picture as everyone expected. But, as most things with this team, it's also about Mike Trout. For Trout, September could mean the difference between being the youngest player in history to be named the Most Valuable Player, or not. The difference between being only the third player in history to win a batting title in his age-20 season, or not. And the difference between being the only man -- any age, any tenure -- to combine a .340 batting average with 20 homers and 40 steals in one season, or not.
September tends to be a tough month, though. "It's going to be because it's the end of the year," Trout said, "and it's been a long year." A good one, too, of course. The 21-year-old Trout went into Sunday's series finale against the Mariners with the American League lead in batting average (.336), along with the Major League lead in stolen bases (42), runs (107) and -- by a wide margin -- Wins Above Replacement (9.4). Despite spending the first month in the Minors, Trout is already the first rookie and youngest player ever to combine 25 homers with 40 steals in one season. With seven more steals, he'll take the overall franchise record (48, by Gary Pettis in 1985). With 11 more, he'll tie Ty Cobb (53 in 1907) for the most by a player in his age-20 season. Trout can join Cobb in an even more distinguished way. Only Cobb and Al Kaline finished a season doing what Trout is doing with exactly one month left -- leading the league in batting average during his age-20 season. Trout opened Sunday with only a four-point lead over the man who also seems to be his biggest competition for the AL MVP, Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera. The Angels' center fielder began August with a .348 clip and had a 25-point lead in that department -- over Cabrera and White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko -- but Trout has fallen off over the last eight games, batting .222 (8-for-36) in that span. An 0-for-4 performance in Sunday's 2-1 loss to the Mariners put his batting average at .333, the lowest it's been since June 18.
"It's definitely a goal coming into the season," Trout said of the batting title. "The goal coming into the season, individual goal, is to win the batting title and have the highest batting average. It's something you can push yourself forward to."