TEMPE, Ariz. -- Since breaking into the Majors full-time in 2012, Angels center fielder Michael Trout has finished first or second in the American League MVP race for five consecutive seasons, a run that has only been equaled by the all-time home run king and seven-time National League MVP Barry
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Since breaking into the Majors full-time in 2012, Angels center fielder Michael Trout has finished first or second in the American League MVP race for five consecutive seasons, a run that has only been equaled by the all-time home run king and seven-time National League MVP Barry Bonds.
He's still only 25, but Trout is a two-time AL MVP, and his reputation as the best player in baseball will likely make him a perennial contender for the prestigious honor for years to come.
Though the Angels finished a distant fourth in the AL West last season, Trout captured his second MVP Award in three years after batting .315 with 29 home runs, 32 doubles, five triples, 100 RBIs and 30 stolen bases. He led the Majors in runs (123), walks (116) and on-base percentage (.441) and ranked second in the American League with a .991 OPS.
Trout also topped the Majors in Wins Above Replacement, according to both Baseball-Reference.com (10.6) and FanGraphs.com (9.4).
"He never takes a pitch off," manager Mike Scioscia said recently. "He can change a game at any point. Not many guys in baseball can do that. He can change it with his glove. He can change it with charging a ball and stopping a first-and-third [situation] on the defensive side, and obviously on the basepaths, you see the way he applies his speed there. And the obvious thing is in the batter's box. He's a game-changer there."
Trout also enters the season as a contender for the Esurance Best Major Leaguer trophy.
Trout could arguably have five MVP Awards, but the one challenge he's run up against in the race is that the Angels have not been as consistently excellent as he has. The Halos have only reached the postseason once in Trout's career. That ended in a three-game sweep at the hands of the Royals in the 2014 AL Division Series. If the Angels are not in the playoff hunt in 2017, MVP voters could revert to leaning toward players on postseason teams.
Trout edged Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts and Astros second baseman Jose Altuve to win the MVP honor last year, and they could emerge as his primary competition again in 2017. Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson, Astros shortstop Carlos Correa and Orioles third baseman Manny Machado are also among the early favorites for the prize and could pose a threat to Trout's bid for his third career MVP this year.
Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com.