The World Series is under way, but there's another competition in baseball that is just as interesting, at least locally - the chance that Millville phenom Mike Trout could be named American League MVP.

Trout, who began the 2012 season playing Triple-A ball for the Salt Lake Bees, became a catalyst for the Los Angeles Angels when he was brought up to the big leagues in April. The Angels' record was 6-14 (.300) without Trout, and 83-59 (.585) with him.

Trout's competition for the American League Most Valuable Player award, considered baseball's top individual prize, is the Detroit Tigers' Miguel Cabrera, who led the league in home runs, RBIs and batting average, baseball's Triple Crown.

But Trout has impressive stats of his own. His 49 stolen bases and 129 runs led the league. His .326 batting average was second in the league, and he was third in on-base percentage (.399) and slugging percentage (.564). He's the first MLB player to ever reach 125 runs scored, 45 stolen bases and 30 home runs.

Trout's outstanding performance in center field included four at-the-wall catches robbing hitters of home runs. He played in his first All-Star game in July.

With or without the MVP award, Trout has had a tremendous season and has made the folks back in Millville proud. He's come a long way from the boy who used to sleep in his Little League uniform.

Or maybe not. One of the things other players admire about Trout is that he plays with such energy and obvious enjoyment.

Trout's dad, Jeff, played in the Minnesota Twins minor-league system in the 1980s. Mike Trout has been a standout since his days playing for the Millville High School Thunderbolts. In his senior year in 2009, he set a state record by hitting 18 home runs.

Trout turned 21 in August, the same month he made the cover of Sports Illustrated, standing behind the headline, "The Supernatural." In the cover story, writer Tom Verducci said "There never has been a position player this good this young."

Somehow through all this Trout was able to stay focused. In July, he talked with Press staff writer Michael McGarry about his success and the attention he has received: "I talk to my parents about it, and it seems a little crazy, a little surreal. But you just stay humble. You just keep telling yourself it's a game you've played since you were a little kid."

Last week, Baseball America named Trout Rookie of the Year and Player of the Year - the first time any player has won both honors. On Monday, Sporting News announced he is the magazine's American League Rookie of the Year, an award voted on by other players.

On Nov. 12 the Rookie of the Year awards will be announced, followed by the MVP awards on Nov. 15.

Whatever happens, Trout's family, friends, former coaches, teammates and local fans can be proud of the way this young man has handled himself, on and off the field, as they look forward to next season.


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