Millville's Mike Trout wins AL rookie of the year

Posted: November 13, 2012

The accomplishments on the field were astonishing, which is why Millville, N.J.'s Mike Trout became the unanimous winner of the American League rookie of the year award Monday night and could be named the league's MVP on Thursday.

What's compelling about Trout's story is his age - he turned 21 in August - and unaffected manner. When his amazing season with the Los Angeles Angels was complete, he returned to the Cumberland County home where he grew up.

Even after a year of being the star of stars on a team that included Albert Pujols, Trout remains more a rural South Jersey kid than a Southern California dude.

Look outside and you might even see him taking out the trash.

"Mike is a great player, but he really is a great kid," said Jeff Trout, the father of baseball's brightest young star. "He has always been a good role model and teammate, and he is still friends with all the kids he grew up with. Mike hasn't changed a bit. He still lives at home. His mother still gets on his butt about taking out the trash. He's no diva. You'll usually find him out hunting or golfing with friends. He's had the same girlfriend since he was 15, Jessica Cox."

Trout's father and mother, Debbie, have a lot to do with the making of the incredible athlete and the humble human being. They are former star athletes and current teachers. Jeff, a former minor-league player in the Minnesota Twins organization, was administering a test to his U.S. history II class Monday at Millville High when he picked up his cellphone. He called back a half-hour later and talked about how life has changed for the Trouts since the youngest of their three children emerged as a superstar ahead of schedule.

"Obviously it's a little bit different," Trout said. "We're bombarded with requests for signed balls and magazine covers, so that is different. But the town of Millville has been great. They get it. He can still go to his favorite eating places. It's nothing out of control. It's fun. This town has always supported him."

During a conference call, Mike Trout said it can be overwhelming being recognized so frequently around town, but admitted that "it's just an incredible feeling." He said he will probably move out of his parents' home and to the West Coast next year.

Trout's rookie season was incredible. In 139 games, he hit .326 with 30 home runs and 83 RBIs. He led the majors in runs with 129 and in stolen bases with 49.

He received all 28 first-place votes from the Baseball Writers' Association of America and became the youngest AL rookie of the year ever.

According to BaseballReference.com, his 10.7 wins above replacement rating was the best in baseball and also the highest current figure posted by any active player.

Trout also made catch after catch after catch that showed up on highlight reels. The greatest of them all came in Baltimore on a night when Camden Yards was filled with fans from his hometown. He scaled the outfield wall and stole a home run from J.J. Hardy.

Trout's rise as a big-league star was accelerated, but not unexpected.

"Every sport he played, he was dominant," said Tony Surace, a legendary former football and baseball coach at Millville.

"You'd see him and say, 'Wow,' " Surace said.

The "wow" factor still applies.

"Right now, he might be the most talented player in the game from every aspect of the game," said Will George, a Colorado Rockies big-league scout and Pennsauken High graduate.

Even Trout's father admits that is a surprise. "I knew he'd be a good major-leaguer, but I didn't know it would happen this fast," he said.

Trout became the second South Jersey athlete in four seasons to win the AL rookie award. Boston's Andrew Bailey, a pitcher out of Paul VI High, won the award while with Oakland in 2009.

"I think it's great that another South Jersey player won and earned the ROY award," Bailey said in a text. "It speaks volumes about what South Jersey baseball has become."

Either Trout or Detroit slugger Miguel Cabrera is expected to win the AL MVP award. The fact that Trout is being considered in a year when Cabrera became the first player to win a Triple Crown speaks volumes about what kind of season he had.

"It would just top it off," Trout said when asked about the MVP. "Coming into the year . . . my goal is to be the best player and make the most impact I can on the field. At the end of the year, just being in the talk about being the MVP, it's hard to explain that feeling." 


Contact Bob Brookover at  bbrookover@phillynews.com and follow @brookob on Twitter.

Staff writers Sam Carchidi and Marc Narducci contributed to this article.

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