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MLB: April All-Stars

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One month does not a season make, but it is also a large enough sample size to start getting excited about players and their prospects for a big season. Last year we saw Derrek Lee, Brian Roberts, Jon Garland, and Dontrelle Willis all get off to hot starts and keep it going throughout the summer. There is something about the first month of the season that gives the season some direction and begins to develop storylines. Of course, Andruw Jones didn’t start mashing home runs until May, so you never know. However, May 1 is a nice time to take a look at where everything sits through the first month of action. In that spirit, I am honoring the best players of each April, complete with All-Star teams.

American League

C – Victor Martinez. Has picked up where he left off in ’05, hitting .398 for April whiling ranking as one of only five AL players with over 20 runs and 20 RBI.

1B – Jason Giambi. Chris Shelton has been getting the hype, but Giambi has the best numbers, hitting .344 with a whopping 1.407 OPS to go with nine home runs and an AL-leading 27 RBI.

2B – Tadahito Iguchi. He has the play of the year so far (the throw to first while hovering above the ground like Superman) and is hitting .322 with 19 runs scored.

3B – Eric Chavez. This will be A-Rod territory before too long, but Chavez is riding the junk food diet to a monster start. In addition to his usual stellar defense, he’s hitting .301 with nine home runs and an OPS of 1.079. All that because he ate so much candy that he gained 20 pounds. I wonder if Jolly Ranchers will become the new HGH.

SS – Miguel Tejada. What a stud. Every time something comes up that makes you doubt him (weight gains, stories of syringes, etc.), he just plays better than ever. He is currently hitting a whopping .422 with 21 RBI.

OF – Vernon Wells. The Blue Jays are in contention after the first month and Wells seems to be hitting another level as a player. .396 with nine home runs and 25 RBI has him among the game’s best after the first month.

OF – Jonny Gomes. The Rays are just as horrendous as ever, but Gomes is a superstar in the making. He leads the league with 11 jacks and has 22 runs and 23 RBI to go with a .303 average.

OF – Nick Swisher. It didn’t take long for Swisher to emerge as a stud in the A’s batting order. .313 with 10 home runs and 24 RBI gets him the nod over Vlad Guerrero and Kevin “Twinkletoes” Mench.

DH – Jim Thome. Big Papi has been his usual stellar self, but Thome has been too good to deny. .300, 10, and 23 with a 1.170 OPS for the first place White Sox gets him the spot.

SP – Curt Schilling. He’s back. A strikeout per inning (tied with Capuano for the major league lead at 40) to go with great ratios and 4 early wins.

SP – Mike Mussina. The resurgence continues for older pitchers. Moose also has four wins, almost a K per, and a 2.31 ERA. Crazy April.

SP – Jose Contreras. You only need one stat here: 0.86 WHIP.

RP – Jonathan Papelbon. Can’t get much better than ZERO earned runs and a perfect 10-for-10 on saves. Throw in the 0.63 WHIP and a K per inning and he’s been the best closer in baseball.

RP – B.J. Ryan. Doesn’t have the saves to show for it, but he’s been sick. No runs allowed and a 0.42 WHIP that is almost too good to believe.

National League

C – Michael Barrett. Josh Willingham of the Marlins has the best numbers of any “catcher,” but he’s only played two games behind the dish. Barrett has stepped up and driven in 18 runs for the Cubs.

1B – Albert Pujols. This one is obvious. Pujols leads majors in home runs (14), RBI (32), and slugging (.914) and boasts a ridiculous 28:7 walk-to-strikeout ratio. He’s on his way to being one of the five greatest hitters to ever play the game. (Apologies to Lance Berkman, who has been the second best player in the NL but unfortunately plays the same position as Pujols. .348/10/29 all for not.)

2B – Brandon Phillips. It feels borderline crazy to call a guy that was bought for cash a few weeks ago the best second basemen in the NL for the month of April, but it is hard to argue with what this former Indians prospect is doing. In 63 at bats, Phillips has driven in 22 runs while hitting .349 with a .969 OPS. The guy drove in 17 runs in one week!

3B – Morgan Ensberg. I can’t believe I’m not typing the words “David Wright” here, but Ensberg has been just a little bit better for a team that is playing better than expected. He’s third in the majors in OPS at 1.232 while hitting .329 with nine home runs.

SS – Omar Vizquel. The ageless wonder is off to another fast start. He’s hitting .375 with five steals while keeping the Giants afloat through the Barry Bonds month from hell.

OF – Carlos Lee. He is leading the young Brewers into contention with 10 home runs, clutch hitting, and even the occasional defensive gem.

OF – Brad Hawpe. The Rockies are in first place and this guy has been leading the way with a .362 average. Even more impressive is that he’s doing most of his damage on the road.

OF – Moises Alou. Old Pee Hands has been a monster this year, making teams pay time and time again for walking the decrepit Bonds. He’s hitting .360 with 24 RBI and, of course, has no blisters.

SP – Chris Capuano. The best pitcher in baseball for the month of April? None other than Chris Capuano of the Brewers. He’s 4-0 with a sparking 0.86 WHIP and a 2.36 ERA. Plus, he’s leading the majors in strikeouts with 40.

SP – Pedro Martinez. Yawn. It’s getting predictable with Pedro. He keeps getting older and his velocity (and arm angle) keeps dropping, but he still dominates hitters. Right now he’s 5-0 with a 0.89 WHIP and a K per inning. Same old, same old.

SP – Greg Maddux. Are you kidding me with the April he had? 5-0 with a 1.35 ERA is just ridiculous. So good in fact, that there is no room on this list for Bronson Arroyo, he of the two home runs and 4-0 April.

RP – Ryan Dempster. Hasn’t blown a save in ages, and is putting up sparkling numbers for the Cubs.

RP – Billy Wagner. Despite giving up the bomb to Barry the other night, Wagner has been his usual filthy self in the ninth inning.

As with any All-Star team, you know there had to be some snubs. So feel free to weigh in with your own picks.

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About Adam Hoff

  • Re, Hawpe: I’m always hesitant to highlight batters from Colorado but since they’re winning I suppose it’s OK.

    Nice job on this.

  • Can’t really argue. I will say David Wright will be there soner rather than later. He started hot, but has been in somewhat of a slump of late. Delgado has come on strong, but it is hard with Pujols and Berkman ahead of you.

    Not an all-star, but Xavier Nady is proving he can play everyday, and Kaz Matsui may have some major league life in him yet.

    Can you tell what team I’m a fan of?

  • Adam Hoff

    Wright is a beast and I agree that he will be the premier third baseman in the league in short order. If not for a few errors and the slump that you mentioned, I would have listed him over Ensberg anyway. He does, after all, have six stolen bases to go with his solid hitting stats. Nady has been terrific. I am feeling very good about picking the Mets to play in the World Series.

    As for Hawpe, I agree that you have to be wary of Rockies players, but their record combined with his splits make the case for him. At home he’s hitting .279 with a .764 OPS and on the road he’s hitting .415 with a 1.361 OPS. Six of his seven home runs and 14 of his 18 RBI have come on the road. No Coors Field Factor for Hawpe during his splendid April.

  • By the way, usage of “Old Pee Hands” — love it.