ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Five years ago, Angels center fielder Mike Trout became the youngest player at the time to be named most valuable player in a unanimous vote. He was 23, already two full seasons into his dominating romp of the major leagues. He had nearly won the American League award the two previous seasons but finished runner-up to Detroit slugger Miguel Cabrera each time.
In 2014, members of the Baseball Writers Association of America finally refused to snub Trout's dynamic skill set.
Trout is now 28. He is still employed by a team that participated in the playoffs once in this decade.
He also remains one of the sport's most captivating talents. He proved it in 2019 by tapping into his power more often than he ever had without sacrificing the basic tenets of his contact-first philosophy. He continued to enhance his stellar defense, flaunting arm strength he had not previously exhibited.
For all that, the voting body of baseball's premier awards revealed Thursday that Trout was named the American League's MVP. It is Trout's third time receiving the honor. He had 17 of the 30 first-place votes. Houston Astros infielder Alex Bregman finished second and had the other 13 first-place votes. Oakland Athletics shortstop Marcus Semien finished third.
Trout has presented a strong case to win the MVP award in seven of his eight full seasons. The electorate snubbed him four times in favor of a candidate that played for a postseason contender, and he finished second in the voting all four times. The only season Trout did not finish first or second in MVP voting was 2017 when he finished fourth.
They could have dinged Trout this awards season because he missed the final three weeks tending to a nerve issue in his foot that eventually required surgery.
But these are the numbers the voters responded to:
Trout slugged a career-high 45 home runs, drove in more than 100 runs for the first time since 2016 and batted .291 in 134 games. Trout led baseball in on-base percentage (.438), owned the highest AL on-base-plus-slugging percentage (1.083) and was second in the AL in home runs.
No one in the AL came close to Trout's first-half production as measured by the advanced statistic weighted runs created-plus, which assesses a player's ability to generate offense in a formula that can be used to compare all hitters. Per that metric, Trout performed 83% above league average before the All-Star Break and was at least 70% better than the average hitter on a monthly basis. The 202 wRC+ he produced in July after the death of Skaggs was third-highest in the majors.