The opposition: Mike Trout

Mike Trout's biggest edge on Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera in the American League MVP voting could be called the "supernova" advantage. Everyone knew entering the season that Cabrera was a rare descendant of Hall of Famer Ted Williams -- capable of hitting for a high average with power.

Trout hit .220 in a limited first call-up last year, and he wasn't in the majors when the 2012 season began. The Angels called him up in late April. For the next three months, the outfielder filled daily box scores with so many "2s, 3s and 4s" in various combinations of runs, hits and RBIs, and compiled such an unprecedented array of feats for a young player, that it seemed the only frame large enough to contain this unexpected supernova was the MVP.