Trout's season dominant in many ways

Otto Greule Jr./Getty Images

Mike Trout's 2012 season had high-fives almost every day.It was not a surprise that Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim centerfielder Mike Trout was selected as AL Rookie of the Year.

Trout had arguably the best rookie season in major-league history, and remember, he didn’t play his first game of 2012 until April 28.

He is the second player in Angels history to win Rookie of the Year honors, joining Tim Salmon, who won the award in 1993.

The History

Trout won by unanimous vote, receiving all of the first-place votes from the Baseball Writers Association of America.

AL Rookie of the Years
Unanimous Vote

The last player to win AL Rookie of the Year by unanimous vote was Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria.

Trout’s win ended a three-year run by AL pitchers, the longest run of pitcher wins for the AL award.

Trout is the first outfielder to win the AL Rookie of the Year award since Ichiro Suzuki won it for the Seattle Mariners in 2001.

He’s the first AL player who was primarily a centerfielder to win it since Carlos Beltran for the Kansas City Royals in 1999.

The Numbers

Trout led the majors with 10.7 Wins Above Replacement, a stat that attempts to quantify and combine his offensive and defensive contributions.

That is the second-highest WAR for a player in his “age 20 or younger” season (the player’s age on June 30), surpassed only by Dwight Gooden’s 11.9 WAR for the at age 20 for the 1985 new York Mets.

It was tied for the 13th-best WAR for any AL player since 1900, and was the third-highest WAR by any player in the last 20 seasons, beaten only by a pair of seasons by Barry Bonds (11.6 WAR in both 2001 and 2002).

.300 BA, 30 HR, 40 SB, 120 R

It beat the best previous WAR by an Angels position player by 2.5 wins. Darin Erstad owned the mark before him, with an 8.2 WAR.

In more basic terms, consider this: Trout was the fifth player in major-league history to have a season in which he hit at least .300, with 30 home runs, 40 steals, and 120 runs scored.

The full list can be seen in the chart on the right.

What made Trout so good?

Trout ranked among baseball's best hitters partly because of his skill at hitting pitches in the lower-half of the strike zone.

He had the highest batting average (.360), slugging percentage (.608) and OPS (1.003) in at-bats that ended with pitches to that area. Those were major-league bests across the board.

On the defensive side, Trout's ability to make the highlight-reel catch was unmatched. He led the majors with four home-run robbing catches, which helped him finish with 23 Defensive Runs Saved, best among AL centerfielders and one shy of the major-league lead.

Looking ahead to the MVP voting

The AL MVP will be announced on Thursday, with the award figuring to be a tight contest between Trout and Detroit Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera.

For Trout to win and become the third player to win both MVP and Rookie of the Year in the same season (along with Fred Lynn in 1975 and Ichiro in 2001), and the Angels third MVP (joining Don Baylor, 1979 and Vladimir Guerrero, 2004), he’ll need to buck a recent trend among AL voters.

Of the last 20 AL MVPs, 19 were on teams that played in the postseason. The only exception was then-Texas Rangers shortstop Alex Rodriguez in 2003.