ANAHEIM -- The game's best all-around player now has the hardware to back it up.
As if there was ever any doubt, Mike Trout was named the American League's Most Valuable Player Award winner on Thursday. And just to prove there never was, the Angels' center fielder collected all 30 first-place votes from the Baseball Writers' Association of America, becoming the youngest unanimous MVP in Major League history.
"It's unbelievable, just to think about it," Trout told MLB Network from his parents' house in New Jersey. "If you would've told me this before, when the season started, I would've just laughed at you. This is an unbelievable feeling. It's awesome."
Trout is just the 17th player to win the MVP Award unanimously, with Frank Robinson doing it twice and Albert Pujols -- with the Cardinals in 2009 -- being the latest. Trout, 23, is the fifth-youngest MVP ever and the third MVP in Angels history, joining former right fielder Vladimir Guerrero (2004) and current hitting coach Don Baylor (1979).
When Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw claimed the award for the National League, it marked the 11th time that both MVPs resided in the same market.
"So exciting to see another AL MVP wearing the Angels' uniform," said Guerrero, who, like Trout, wore No. 27. "I also want to thank Mike for wearing my favorite number."
"It may be his first MVP," Baylor added, "but it won't be his last."
Trout led the Majors in Wins Above Replacement (WAR) for the third straight season with a score of 7.8, according to FanGraphs.com. He posted a .287/.377/.561 slash line, hit a career-high 36 homers, led the AL in RBIs (111) and runs scored (115), and paced the Majors in total bases (338) and extra-base hits (84). In the process, he became the first player in history with at least 300 runs, 75 homers and 75 steals in his first 400 games.
"Mike has had an incredible start to his career," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said in a statement. "His play this year totally embodies what an MVP is all about. His terrific performance, along with his selfless style of play, has made him a tremendous leader on this team."
Trout collected 420 points to easily top the two fellow finalists, with Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez getting 229 and Indians outfielder Michael Brantley amassing 191 from 30 BBWAA voters (two for each city in the AL).
Trout is the fourth AL player to finish in the top two of MVP ballots three straight years, joining Mickey Mantle (1960-62), Yogi Berra (1953-56) and Hal Newhouser (1944-46). The three-time AL All-Star and Silver Slugger Award winner also is the sixth player to win All-Star Game MVP and regular-season MVP in the same year.
The only players to win the AL MVP Award at a younger age were A's starter Vida Blue (1971) and Orioles shortstop Cal Ripken Jr. ('83).
"The sky is the limit for Mike," Angels left fielder Josh Hamilton said.
"Mike respects the game and plays it the right way," Pujols said. "It's a privilege to have him as a teammate and a friend."
Trout burst onto the scene with an improbable rookie season in 2012 (.326 average, .963 OPS, 30 homers, 49 steals, 10.1 WAR) and avoided a sophomore slump with a similarly impressive 2013 season (.323 average, .988 OPS, 27 homers, 33 steals, 10.5 WAR). But he was the MVP runner-up to Miguel Cabrera, results that spawned seemingly endless debates pitting proponents of modern metrics against those who favored traditional statistics.
Cabrera didn't contribute much on the bases or on defense, but he won the Triple Crown in 2012, posted better offensive numbers in both seasons and did it all for Tigers teams that won their division. This year, Trout's powers numbers picked up, no other players necessarily stuck out, and his Angels led the Majors in regular-season wins.
But Trout still wasn't sure.
"Just anxious throughout the day," he said on a conference call. "The last two years, I was in the same situation. The experience I had the last two years helped me out a little bit. When the announcement came out, it meant a lot. You always want to win, so when you do that, you get emotional a little bit."
Some would assert that Trout's first MVP season was actually his worst, and none would argue that it was different. He stole only 16 bases, after swiping 49 in 2012 and 33 in '13. He finished with a .377 on-base percentage, after posting a .416 clip from 2012-13. He notched an Ultimate Zone Rating of minus-9.8 in center field, two years after amassing a score of 16. And he struck out an AL-leading 184 times, which ended up being the highest total ever by an MVP.
"The strikeouts were obviously up there," Trout said, "but I had a career high in RBIs, I got to drive in a lot more runs, the power was up."
And in the end, there was no debate.
"Mike Trout has been an all-around force over the past three seasons," Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto said. "This honor is well deserved and further affirms his position as the premier player in the game."