There was of course absolutely zero doubt about this year's American League Rookie of the Year Award, which Mike Trout won unanimously, as announced, to absolutely nobody's surprise, Monday evening by the Baseball Writers' Association of America. Trout is just the eighth unanimous American League winner.
Really, the only drama at all was the drama nobody really cared about: Who would finish second to Trout?
Because Mike Trout didn't just post phenomenal numbers for a rookie. He posted a) phenomenal, MVP-worthy numbers for anybody, and b) maybe the best numbers for any rookie, ever. Here is Trout's competition for greatest rookie season:
Joe Jackson, 1911 (9.0 Wins Above Replacement)
Dick Allen, 1964 (8.5 WAR)
Carlton Fisk, 1972 (7.0)
Fred Lynn, 1975 (7.1)
Ichiro Suzuki, 2001 (7.5)
Nope, no Joe DiMaggio or Ted Williams or ... well, or anybody else. As measured by Wins Above Replacement (and of course there are other measures), these were the five greatest rookie seasons ever.
Mike Trout finished 2012, despite missing most of April, with 10.7 Wins Above Replacement. Which is not just highest total for a rookie; it's the 20th highest total in major-league history. Which I suppose is what can happen when you're a brilliant hitter and a brilliant baserunner and a brilliant fielder, firing on all cylinders for five months.
But we'll have more about Trout on Thursday, when the results of the Most Valuable Player Award balloting are announced.
What's more interesting about today's results are the other candidates, because in most years, Yoenis Cespedes and Yu Darvish would be outstanding Rookie of the Year candidates. And completely different candidates; while both come from exotic (to most of us) locales -- Cuba and Japan, respectively -- one's a hitter and the other a pitcher, which serves to stymie meaningful comparison.
As usual, the voters preferred the every-day player over the starting pitcher, and Cespedes finished second to Trout, garnering 19 of the 28 second-place positions in the balloting. Darvish did finish third, with Jarrod Parker and Wei-Yin Chen gathering the three available third-place points to finish fourth and fifth, respectively.