If you’re going by the official word from MLB, Mike Trout is only a finalist for the AL ROY award that’s scheduled be given out tomorrow; technically, he’s competing with Yu Darvish and Yoenis Cespedes for the prize.
You know better, though – we all do, really. By this time tomorrow, Trout will be announced as the best rookie in the AL in 2012 – not because Darvish and Cespedes weren’t worthy, but because the 20-year old outfielder was just that much better.
So the proceedings tomorrow is essentially going to be relatively perfunctory, I’d imagine, given that the result is essentially a given. The real question at hand isn’t whether baseball will recognize Trout as the best first-year player in the game – it’s whether he’ll be recognized as the best player in the AL overall later in the week.
Sure, Darvish had his moments of making opposing batters look silly with his twirling, knee-buckling stuff, and Cespedes’ raw power often made the dimensions at the Coliseum look at lot tighter than it was; but, in the end, Trout’s display of five-tool dominance trumps them both. Between single-handedly sparking the Los Angeles Angels‘ offense and the numerous highlight-reel catches, Trout could do everything in the game – and he did just about everything spectacularly.
Almost historically too, in fact. Had Trout managed to swipe one more base in the 2012 season, he would have become only the third player ever to have a 30-50 year. Add to that a .326/.399/.564 triple-slash, and the real question isn’t so much about what accolades Trout will take home this year, but rather about missed possibilities in hindsight. What kind of numbers would Trout have put up, if he’d started the season with the Angels?
Could he have been the first player ever to go 30-60? How many more homers might he have hit? It’s almost ludicrous to think that Trout has set expectations so high in his rookie year that the only remaining question is whether he could have made history, but that’s just the kind of season he’s had.
When Trout takes home the AL ROY award tomorrow, he won’t have done it just as the best first-year player in the league this year – he’ll have won it as perhaps the greatest first-year player ever.