Happy days are here again – it’s time to discuss the best and worst players of the first month of the 2014 MLB season. As usual, there were several standout performers you never expected, and several stars that fell flat.
AL Best Hitter of April – Jose Bautista.
With all due respect to Mike Trout, who is a better all-around player than Bautista, Toronto’s slugger was in vintage form to start 2014. He hit .293/.467/.598 with eight homers and *30* walks. That’s right – Bautista has already matched or eclipsed the 2013 walk total of Yadier Molina, Chris Johnson, Manny Machado, and Jean Segura. Needless to say, he’s leading the league in that category, and his .304 ISO is third in the American League behind Jose Abreu and Albert Pujols. Yeah…I think his wrist is healthy now.
Honorable mentions: Trout, Abreu, Pujols, Matt Joyce, Nelson Cruz
AL Worst Hitter of April – Billy Butler.
Billy Butler is a designated hitter. He has an .031 ISO thanks to just three doubles and no homers. He has walked nine times, which has at least boosted his OBP and given him a .224/.285/.255 triple slash. Remember – Butler is a DH. He offers absolutely no defensive value. So if he’s not hitting, he’s pretty much useless as a player. And right now, Butler isn’t hitting, and is useless. Kansas City is 14-12 not because of their offense, but because of their pitching staff. If Butler and the offense can get going, the Royals could be a force in the AL Central.
Dishonorable mentions: Brad Miller, Mike Moustakas, David Freese, Abraham Almonte, Raul Ibanez
NL Best Hitter of April – Troy Tulowitzki.
Like Bautista, Tulo is healthy (for now) and is dominating the league. His seven homers are second in the National League, and are tied for the most in baseball for any middle infielder (with Brian Dozier, which is…weird). He’s also walked 21 times to go with his seven homers, creating a gorgeous .364/.477/.727 line that is crushing everyone in baseball. Teammate Charlie Blackmon is getting most of the love in the early going of 2014, but Tulowitzki is playing much better overall.
Honorable mentions: Blackmon, Chase Utley, Justin Upton, Adrian Gonzalez, Jarrod Saltalamacchia
NL Worst Hitter of April – Yonder Alonso.
Yonder Alonso is a first baseman. He has an .063 ISO, thanks to just six doubles and no homers. He’s walked just four times. He’s hitting .167/.198/.229 as a whole. So….that’s a thing that happened. San Diego’s offense is the absolute worst in all of baseball, and the lack of production that the Padres are getting from their first baseman is a huge reason why.
Dishonorable mentions: Jedd Gyorko, Nate Schierholtz, Curtis Granderson, Zack Cozart, Will Venable
AL Best Pitcher of April – Felix Hernandez.
I went with the King out of a worthy pool of players in large part to what he means for the Mariners. He’s just 3-1 in six starts, but has totaled 41 1/3 innings, a 2.40 ERA, 47 strikeouts, and just seven walks. Seattle has lost his last three starts, in which Hernandez has a 2.70 ERA and gotten a total of seven runs of support from his offense. Some things never change.
Honorable mentions: Yordano Ventura, Sonny Gray, Jesse Chavez, Masahiro Tanaka, Max Scherzer
AL Worst Pitcher of April – Ubaldo Jimenez.
The Orioles signed Jimenez to a four-year, $50 million deal with the hopes that he would bolster their rotation and transform them into a legitimate playoff contender. Through five starts, he’s 0-4 with a 6.59 ERA. In 27 1/3 innings, he’s struck out 21 and walked 17. He hasn’t gotten past the sixth inning in any of his starts. And you really can’t blame the Orioles too much for not scoring for him – yes, they’ve only given Jimenez nine runs of support in five starts, but he’s been putrid regardless of how much the offense is backing him up.
Dishonorable mentions: Ricky Nolasco, Kevin Correia, Mike Pelfrey, Felipe Paulino, Lucas Harrell
NL Best Pitcher of April – Jose Fernandez.
Fernandez is following up a fantastic rookie year with an even better sophomore campaign. In six starts, he’s struck out 55 and walked eight, which has lead to a 1.59 ERA in 39 2/3 innings. Perhaps even more spectacular, six of the seven earned runs and four of the eight walks Fernandez has allowed this season came in one start at Citizens Bank Park. In his other five outings, he’s allowed just one earned run and three unearned runs in 35 2/3 innings, striking out 49 and walking four. That’s good for a 0.25 ERA, and four of those starts came against the Nationals, Braves, and Rockies. Just gross.
Honorable mentions: Adam Wainwright, Ervin Santana, Cliff Lee, Nate Eovaldi, Ian Kennedy
NL Worst Pitcher of April – Bronson Arroyo.
All of that veteran presence and grit, and the only things that Bronson Arroyo has given the Diamondbacks in exchange for their millions is a 7.77 ERA and just ten strikeouts in 24 1/3 innings. He’s been a horror show this year, simply exemplifying the numbers issues that Arizona has had so far in 2014.
Dishonorable mentions: Wandy Rodriguez, Trevor Cahill, Eric Stults, Ryan Vogelsong, Paul Maholm
AL Best Rookie of April – Jose Abreu.
C’mon, who else were you really expecting here? Abreu’s ten homers and 32 RBI not only lead all rookies, they lead all of baseball. His .270/.336/.617 line crushes everything in its way. He’s sent Hawk Harrelson into numerous conniptions already this season. This is going to be a fun six years on the south side.
Honorable mentions: Josmil Pinto, Yangervis Solarte, Masahiro Tanaka, Yordano Ventura, Xander Bogaerts
NL Best Rookie of April – Chris Owings.
The National League rookie crop is kind of like the American League rookie crop last year – we’re just sitting around waiting for the stud (in this case, Gregory Polanco) to get promoted. Owings is doing a solid job as Arizona’s starting shortstop, hitting .313/.367/.398 with a solid glove, and really, that’s all you can ask at this stage of the game. The National League Rookie of the Year race needs you, Gregory!
Honorable mentions: Billy Hamilton, David Hale, Aaron Barrett, Travis d’Arnaud, Ian Thomas