Combined, they're younger than Mariano Rivera and Jim Thome. And center fielders Mike Trout and Bryce Harper each have potential that's as bright as those future Hall of Famers showed in their younger days.
Trout is a candidate for American League MVP and was a unanimous selection as the top AL rookie, receiving all 28 first-place votes. The Los Angeles Angels center fielder had a season that's statistically outrageous, especially for a 21-year-old who wasn't even on the big-league roster to start the season. He hit .326 with 30 homers, an AL-best 129 runs scored (even with a month in Triple-A), 83 RBI, an AL-best 49 stolen bases and a.963 OPS. He was the first player to ever have 30 homers, 125 runs and 45 stolen bases in a season. And he was a Gold Glove candidate in center field, too.
"When I made the All-Star team, that was a really a big moment of my career, and that's when all the Rookie-of-the-Year talk started. It really came on fast. I was having so much fun during the year, I didn't really think of the awards or the individual stuff. I was just trying to help the team win," Trout said in a conference call, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Trout was the first unanimous AL Rookie of the Year since Evan Longoria in 2008, and the first center fielder to win it since Carlos Beltran in 1999.
It was an international ballot in the AL, too. Yoenis Cespedes of Cuba was a solid second in the voting after hitting .292 with 23 home runs and 82 RBI for the surprising AL West champion Oakland Athletics. Yu Darvish of Japan was third after a 16-9 season for the Texas Rangers.
Trout is the youngest to win the AL honor in history and Harper is even younger, having just turned 20 in October.
Harper has been a can't-miss player since appearing on the Sports Illustrated cover at age 16 in June 2009. The No. 1 overall pick in 2011, he also started the season in the minors before being called up in late April and made the NL All-Star team a couple months later. He cooled off in the second half but came on strong in September for the NL East champion Washington Nationals.
"This is a great award, and I'm so excited and proud of it," Harper said to the Washington Post. "But my biggest thing is I want to win a World Series. I want to put that ring on my finger and give that to the town and city of D.C. They deserve that."
The voting was much closer in the NL -- the closest since Ryan Braun nipped Troy Tulowitzki by two votes in 2007. Harper had seven more voting points (112) than pitcher Wade Miley of the Arizona Diamondbacks (105). Harper also had 16 first-place votes to Miley's 12. Infielder Todd Frazier of the Cincinnati Reds (3) and Colorado Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario (1) received the other first-place votes in the NL.
The youngest winner of the award all-time is Dwight Gooden, who was 19 when he was NL Rookie of the Year in 1984.
2012 Rookie Of The Year Voting