For Mike Trout, the outfielder from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the third time was the charm. The star hitter finally won the American League's MVP Award after finishing second in the voting both last year and the year before — not too shabby for a player who just turned 23 in August. He picked up all 30 first-place votes.
In an era when pitchers are increasingly dominant, Trout actually had arguably his worst season yet as a starter. He set career lows in batting average (.287), hits (173), and on-base percentage (.377).
In spite of it, Trout was the runaway favorite for the award for most of the season. His 36 home runs helped lead the Angels to 98 wins, the best record in baseball. And though LA lost to the Kansas City Royals in the playoffs, Angels fans chanted "M-V-P" during each of his at-bats.
In the National League, Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw became just the 11th player to win the Cy Young Award and the MVP in the same year since the Cy Young was first awarded in 1956. He led the major leagues in strikeouts per nine innings and earned run average, and he threw a no-hitter in June (a perfect game was foiled by a fielding error in the seventh inning).
Both players underwhelmed in the postseason (the awards are voted on the merits of the players' regular-season performance). Trout had just one hit in a three-game sweep by the Royals, while Kershaw gave up 11 runs in two losses to the St. Louis Cardinals.
But they'll very likely have the chance to redeem themselves next year; there is some quality baseball happening in Los Angeles these days. Both Trout and Kershaw are locked into multiyear contracts with their respective teams, each of which is well-positioned to win big next year. The Angels are returning almost every key player from this year's squad, while the Dodgers' payroll and recent hiring of an excellent president of baseball operations bode well.