Fantastic follow-up warrants Trout MVP consideration

Fantastic follow-up warrants Trout MVP consideration

Fantastic follow-up warrants Trout MVP consideration

ANAHEIM -- In two full seasons, most of which came before the age of 22, Mike Trout established himself as possibly the best player in all of baseball.

And once again, he'll garner heavy consideration for the American League's Most Valuable Player Award.

The Angels' superstar outfielder was announced Tuesday as one of three finalists for the prestigious honor that's voted on by the Baseball Writers' Association of America, along with Orioles first baseman Chris Davis and Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera, the reigning Triple Crown winner.

The winner will be unveiled on MLB Network at 3 p.m. PT on Nov. 14. And while Cabrera -- .348/.442/.636 slash line for the AL Central champs -- is widely expected to garner the award for a second straight year, Trout has made his case once again.

Coming off a 2012 season that will go down as one of the most impressive in history -- the unanimous AL Rookie of the Year Award winner and a runner-up for the MVP -- Trout continued to take steps forward for an Angels team that was out of the playoff picture for most of the season.

"I think he's probably played -- I don't know about significantly better, but quite a bit better than last year," teammate Mark Trumbo said. "And that's saying something, because his year last year was absolutely outstanding."

Trout's 2013 slash line (.323/.432/.557) almost mirrored the one from his '12 campaign (.326/.399/.564). He led the AL in runs (109) and walks (110), set a franchise record for on-base percentage and easily led the Majors in WAR for a second straight season (10.4), all while adding 27 homers, 97 RBIs, 33 steals and 190 hits.

He's the first player in AL history with 100 walks, 70 extra-base hits and 30 stolen bases in the same season, the first in AL history with 25 homers, 30 steals and 100 walks in a season, and the youngest player in Major League history -- and the only in Angels history -- to post back-to-back 20-homer, 30-steal campaigns.

Trout, who turned 22 on Aug. 7, joined Willie Mays (1957-58) as the only players in history with two seasons with a .320 average, 25 homers and 30 steals at any point in their careers.

Asked what he was most proud of this year, Trout said: "The runs -- scoring a lot of runs for the team. And the walks. I like walks. It makes me feel like I have more discipline this year, not swinging if I don't get my pitch."

But even Trout recognizes that it will probably be Cabrera who wins the MVP again.

"I can't take it away from Cabrera," Trout said toward the end of the regular season. "He won the division, is going to the playoffs, and we're heading home. That's a big contribution, being on a winning team."

Earlier this fall, Trout was named Baseball America's Player of the Year for the second straight season, but came up short to Cabrera for the AL Hank Aaron Award and the AL Outstanding Player Award, as voted on by his peers.

Despite basically playing on one leg for most of the second half, Cabrera led the AL in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging and OPS (1.078), and ranked second to Davis in homers (44) and RBIs (137). Davis, meanwhile, enjoyed a breakout season in Baltimore, batting .286 with a 1.004 OPS, 53 homers and 138 RBIs.

Trout's second full season was a bit of a transition. He moved away from the leadoff spot, batting second and then third after Albert Pujols suffered a season-ending foot injury in late July. He split time between left field and his more comfortable position of center field, seeing his defensive metrics drop off considerably. He faced a league that was more mindful of him on the basepaths and a lot less willing to give him pitches to hit.

And he responded by, in many ways, getting better.

Asked what his expectations are moving forward, Trout said: "I'm just going to keep doing this. I'm not going to change my approach. I'm having fun. I'm happy with what I'm doing. Staying positive. It's a grind. Keeping my body healthy is the main thing. Staying on the field. It all comes down to making the playoffs. That was our goal and we fell short."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.