It isn't often that a rookie in baseball wins the MVP award. Trout didn't, but he came pretty darn close. A true five-tool player, Trout stole 49 bases, hit 30 home runs and ran away with the AL Rookie of the Year award.
2 of 30 Dave Martin/AP
Johnny Manziel became the first freshman to ever win the Heisman Trophy. Manziel, who had been passed over by Texas, led Texas A&M to a 10-2 record and amassed 4,600 total yards.
3 of 30 Heinz Kluetmeier/SI; Chris Trotman/Getty Images
Possibly no athlete's rise to fame has ever been as sudden or as surprising as Jeremy Lin's. After a two-week span of amazing scoring, this undrafted Harvard grad became a global icon.
4 of 30 Al Tielemans/SI
Robert Griffin III
RG3 had an entire city's expectations on his shoulders when he joined the Redskins this season. So far, he maybe even surpassed Washington D.C.'s hopes, with a 104.2 QB rating and an 18:4 TD:INT ratio.
5 of 30 Neil Leifer/SI
Led by Gabby Douglas (who would go on to win gold in the individual all-around competition), the Fierce Five became the first U.S. team to win gold in the team competition since 1996.
6 of 30 Robert Beck/SI
Mixed martial arts fighter Ronda Rousey, a 2008 bronze medalist in judo, joined the UFC and was named the first UFC Women's Bantamweight Champion. Rousey will fight Liz Carmouche at UFC 157 in February 2013.
7 of 30 Al Tielemans, Robert Beck/SI
A 2009 issue of Sports Illustrated dubbed 16-year-old Bryce Harper as "baseball's Chosen One." In his first year in the big leagues, Harper has done little to quell the hype. Just 19, he hit 22 home runs and was named the NL Rookie of the Year.
8 of 30 Hannah Johnston/Getty Images
Although he did not win an Olympic medal, South African amputee Oscar Pistorius delivered an inspirational performance in London. Pistorius reached the semifinal of the 400 meters and the final of the 4 x 400 relay. Then, a few weeks later, he won three medals in the Paralympics, two of them gold.
9 of 30 Greg Nelson/SI
Although he was drafted in 2009, Spanish point guard Ricky Rubio waited until the 2011-12 season before he decided he was ready to make his NBA debut. He did not disappoint, recording assist after assist with his highlight-worthy passes. He was averaging 8.2 assists and 10.6 points before being sidelined with a season-ending injury.
10 of 30David E. Klutho/SI
It was no surprise that Luck was the No. 1 draft pick. It was somewhat a surprise, though, how quickly Luck has been able to lead the Colts to victory. Through Week 14, Indianapolis, which was 2-14 in 2011, is 9-4 and Luck has averaged more than 290 yards passing per game.
11 of 30John Biever/SI
Manti Te'o was the leader of Notre Dame's formidable defense all season long. Along the way, Te'o and the Fighting Irish defense stopped every opponent they faced and sent their team to the BCS Championship Game.
12 of 30 Robert Beck/SI
The success of female swimmers was one of the biggest American storylines to come out of London Olympics. 22-year-old Allison Schmitt was one of the most impressive of them, as she won five medals before it was time for her to return to the University of Georgia.
13 of 30 Fred Vuich/SI
Prior to the 2012 season, pitcher Yu Darvish was one of the most sought after signings in the offseason. The Japanese star ended up signing with the Rangers and having an impressive debut season, finishing 16-9 with 221 strikeouts and a 3.90 ERA.
14 of 30 Joel Plummer/ZUMAPRESS.com
The competition kept getting tougher in 2012, but boxer Adrien Broner continued to be undefeated. Broner, now 25-0, won the WBC Lightweight title in November for his TKO against Antonio DeMarco.
15 of 30 Porter Binks/SI
After struggling for much of the 2011-12 season, Lousiville point guard Peyton Siva emerged as a star during the 2012 Big East Tournament. Siva averaged 13.8 ppints, 6.3 rebounds and 5.8 assists in the conference tournament, as Louisville won the competition and Siva was named the MVP.
16 of 30 MRQ/Icon SMI
How good was Northern Illinois junior quarterback Jordan Lynch? His 4,361 total yards was just 239 yards fewer than Johnny Manziel's total. For that, and for leading the 12-1 Huskies to earning the MAC title, he was named the MAC Player of the Year and an AP All-American.
17 of 30Jeff Moffett/Icon SMI
Having been written off by many in the media, Eddie Johnson and his return to the U.S. men's national team gave American fans an inspiring story to follow. But Johnson did not just want to make an appearance in the U.S. jersey -- he wanted to score. That is exactly what he did in October, scoring both goals during the U.S.'s key 2-1 World Cup qualifier victory over Antigua and Barbuda.
18 of 30 Erick W. Rasco/SI
In 2012 Victoria Azarenka became the biggest young star in women's tennis. Azarenka won the Australian Open singles title, becoming the first Belarusian to win a Grand Slam singles title, and nearly won a second title in the U.S. Open finals.
19 of 30 Peter Read Miller/SI
USC receiver Marqise Lee may be only a sophomore, but he has already made his mark in the Pac-12 record book. Lee had 16 catches for 345 yards against Arizona, demolishing the conference's old single-game record. By the end of the season he finished with 112 receptions for 1680 yards and 14 touchdowns.
20 of 30 Todd Rosenberg/SI
The Big Ten Freshman of the Year last season, Cody Zeller averaged 15.6 points and 6.6 rebounds. Now a sophomore, Zeller is the leader of a Hoosiers team that is undefeated and ranked No. 1 in the country.
21 of 30 Greg Nelson/SI
James Harden has a solid first two seasons. In his third, Harden became a household name, helping lead the Thunder to the NBA Finals and winning the NBA Sixth Man of the Year award. He finished the season averaging 16.8 points, signed a big contract with the Rockets and now is averaging 24.7 points with Houston through 19 games.
22 of 30 Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images
The 22-year-old Swede had a memorable 2011-12 season with the Senators, scoring 19 goals and recording 59 assists. He also won the James Norris Trophy, awarded to the NHL's best defenseman.
23 of 30 Todd Rosenberg/SI
A rookie last season, point guard Kyrie Irving made his mark from the get-go: he recorded seven assists in each of his first two games and ended the year averaging 18.5 points and 6 assists.
24 of 30Thomas Lovelock/SI
It may not have been the Championship at Wimbledon, but it was still at Wimbledon. By winning the gold medal in the men's singles competition, Andy Murray became the first Briton to win at Wimbledon since 1908. Murray followed up his London win by earning his first Grand Slam title in the U.S. Open.
25 of 30 Al Tielemans/SI
Alfred Morris has been a hit with the Redskins ever since he ran for 96 yards in his NFL debut in September. Since then, he has run for 100+ yards six times and scored 13 total touchdowns, through Week 14.
26 of 30AP Photo/Alastair Grant
No one could have predicted that midway through December the joint-leading goal scorer in the Premier League would be a Spanish man named Michu. Michu, who signed with Swansea City from La Liga minnow Rayo Vallecano has arguably been the signing of the season. His 12 EPL goals have helped Swansea steer clear of the relegation zone thus far this season.
27 of 30 Harry How/Getty Images
Boxer Brandon Rios won both of his fights in 2012, defeating Richard Abril and Mike Alvarado and improving his record to 31-0-1.
28 of 30 Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images
The youngest captain in NHL history, Gabriel Landeskog had 22 goals and 30 assists in his debut with the Avalanche.
29 of 30 Michael Regan - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images
Juan Mata has been a star ever since signing with Chelsea in the 2011 off-season, but the Spanish midfielder really came into his own in 2012. By the end of the 2011-12 season, Mata had won the Chelsea Player of the Year award and he has not slowed down since.
30 of 30Damian Strohmeyer/SI
Craft, a junior at Ohio State, averaged 4.6 assists and 8.8 points last season.
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