Millville resident Mike Trout was a lock for the American League Rookie of the Year award.
Still, his parents, Jeff and Debbie, were relieved to get the call Monday evening at their Millville home to make it official.
“Oh, yeah,” Debbie said in a phone interview afterward. “We were a little nervous. You never know.”
It wasn’t even close.
Trout, a center fielder for the Los Angeles Angels, earned all 28 first-place votes from the Baseball Writers Association of America to become just the eighth unanimous AL Rookie of the Year ever. Oakland’s Yoenis Cespedes was second and Texas’ Yu Darvish third.
“That’s the key thing,” Jeff Trout said. “I think Deb and I were both happy that it was a unanimous vote. That’s quite an accomplishment.”
Monday was the start of a busy week for the Trouts.
An MLB Network camera crew arrived at their house in the afternoon to be there for the announcement. Today, Mike will hold a news conference at the Thunderbolt Club in Millville.
Then the family will drive to New York for the Heart & Hustle Award ceremony, which is presented by the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association. Trout is one of 14 finalists for the AL award, which is voted on by current and former players.
Then it’s back home, where Trout hopes to get another call Thursday when the AL Most Valuable Player is announced. He’s one of five finalists for that award, but it’s thought to be a two-man race between Trout and the Detroit Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera.
“It would just top it off,” Trout said on a conference call Monday night. “Coming into the year and coming into every year, my goal is to be the best player and make the most impact as a player on the field. At the end of the year, just to be in the talk of MVP with these big guys like Cabrera, he had a Triple Crown, just being a part of the discussion, it’s an incredible feeling and it’s a hard one to explain.”
Trout, who turned 21 in August, hit .326 with 30 home runs, 129 runs scored, 49 stolen bases and 83 RBIs despite spending the first 20 games of the season in the minors. He was the first player in Major League Baseball history to accumulate at least 30 homers, 125 runs and 45 steals in one season. He also made four home run-robbing catches, just the third player since 2004 to do that.
Trout has long been known for his blazing speed, but he said even he didn’t expect to hit so many homers.
“Power was definitely surprising a little bit more,” he said, adding that he hopes to improve his throwing accuracy next season.
The Angels went 6-14 before calling Trout up but finished 89-73, barely missing out on the playoffs.
Los Angeles drafted Trout with the 25th overall pick in 2009. He validated that pick, and then some.
“When I got drafted 25th, I just told myself that 24 teams passed me up before this,” Trout said, “And I was just trying to do everything I could to prove them wrong that they made the wrong choice.”
Trout’s good friend Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals won the National League Rookie of the Year, beating out Arizona’s Wade Miley and Cincinnati’s Todd Frazier.
Frazier is a Toms River native, a fact that was not lost on Trout, a 2009 Millville High School graduate who was The Press of Atlantic City’s Male Athlete of the Year after hitting a state-record 18 homers as a senior. Trout also was a two-time Press Baseball Player of the Year.
“Just to make a name for New Jersey and the East Coast that we’ve still got some talent over here (is gratifying),” Trout said.
After Monday night’s announcement, Trout went to the gym. Jeff and Debbie said they planned to “lay low.” There were no big celebrations planned.
“(He wanted to) put his phone away and get away from all this stuff for a couple hours,” his father said.
There are few places where Trout can count on getting away from it all anymore, though. He said he gets recognized frequently around Millville.
“People, I think, they’ve started carrying balls in their cars,” he said. “Because I’ll go out to a restaurant and they would come up to me with a ball and stuff.”
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