Cabrera also was voted the AL's Outstanding Player over Trout and Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre.
"It's unbelievable," Cabrera told MLB Network. "I never thought I was going to be in this position right now. I want to say thank you for voting for me because there was a lot of competition."
It marks the second time in as many weeks that players have honored Cabrera. A panel of 203 Major Leaguers voted Cabrera as the Sporting News Player of the Year in results announced during the World Series.
Fellow Tiger Justin Verlander won the Players Choice honor last year -- and went on to be named AL MVP. That correlation has had a mixed history over the years, but since 2006, only Carlos Gonzalez of the Rockies won Player of the Year honors without getting an MVP award to go with it. That split happened in 2010.
The AL MVP award will be announced on Nov. 15, also on MLB Network, as part of an hourlong special beginning at 6 p.m. ET. Finalists will be announced on Wednesday. A panel of 28 members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America -- two from each American League city -- cast their votes at the end of the regular season.
In what has been characterized, perhaps unfairly, as a debate of traditional stats and advanced metrics -- or a question of faith in trusting eyes or trusting stats -- the players weighed the historic seasons of Cabrera and Trout without nearly as much fanfare or rhetoric. That probably didn't make their decision any easier, but in the end, they weighed Cabrera's overwhelming offensive contribution over Trout's all-around excellence.
"I don't know if they made the right choice," Cabrera joked. "I was lucky, very lucky, but thank you."
The Player of the Year award covers both leagues and dates back to 1998. Before then, the MLB Players Association had one award for each league's best pitcher and one for each league's best position player.
Cabrera already had led the league in batting average, home runs and RBIs in separate seasons since his first season with the Tigers in 2008. By putting them all together in one amazing season, batting .330 with 44 homers and 139 RBIs, Cabrera became the first batting Triple Crown winner since Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski of the Red Sox in 1967.
Not since the Indians' Al Rosen in 1953 had an American League player batted .330 or better with 200 hits (Cabrera had 205 in 2012), 39 home runs and 139 RBIs.
Take away the Triple Crown designation, and other statistics echoed the same strengths that Cabrera displayed for a full season. Cabrera just missed a quadruple-digit OPS at .999 but outpaced all other Major League hitters with enough plate appearances to qualify for a batting title. He led the league in runs created for the third consecutive year, barely beating out Trout, as well as extra-base hits, adjusted batting runs and batting wins.
Trout's similarly incredible totals over a shorter season, having been called up at the end of April, presented the one case that could match up against Cabrera's accomplishments. In the end, the duo's performances down the stretch -- and the Tigers' spot in the postseason -- might well have played a difference.
Cabrera batted .333 (38-for-114) with 11 home runs and 30 RBIs after Sept. 1. Trout hit .289 (33-for-114) with five homers and nine RBIs in the season's final month.
As part of the awards, the MLB Players Association will make a $70,000 contribution -- $50,000 for Player of the Year, $20,000 for AL Outstanding Player -- to Cabrera's charitable foundation.
Trout easily won AL Outstanding Rookie honors. He was a finalist with Cabrera in both AL Outstanding Player and MLB Player of the Year categories. Beltre completed the field for AL Outstanding Player. McCutchen, the other MLB Player of the Year finalist, won NL Outstanding Player honors.