MLB General

The MLB April Awards

April baseball may be about as meaningful as the 7th round of the NFL draft (do you really think Ramzee Robinson will have a big impact on the Lions next season?). Still, this opening month of baseball has been quite an eventful one. The Yankees are in last, the Brewers are in first, the Braves have returned, and Barry is back. Here is some hardware for the best (and worst) of April.The Kurt Warner Award for “Playing like it’s 1999:” Sammy Sosa, Rangers. When I heard Slammin’ Sammy was returning to the majors, I thought it was a joke. Considering his 2005 season with Baltimore (.245, 14 homers), no one thought Sammy would make any sort of impact. While his average isn’t any better than you would expect (.236), he has returned to his power form with 7 homers and 20 RBIs. Could Sammy possibly have another 50-homer season? I doubt he’ll make it through the year without an injury, but with five more homers he’ll become only the fifth member of the 600 club.

The 2007 Miami Heat Award for “Biggest Disappointment:” This one is a tie between Alfonso Soriano, Gary Sheffield, Ryan Howard, Lance Berkman, Carlos Delgado, and Manny Ramirez. The oddest trend in the league so far (besides every other game getting rained out) is the amount of struggling sluggers. Here are their numbers from April:

Soriano: .261, 0 homers, 1 RBI
Sheffield: .200, 2 homers, 8 RBIs
Howard: .219, 3 homers, 13 RBIs
Berkman: .253, 2 homers, 11 RBIs
Delgado: .187, 1 homer, 12 RBIs
Ramirez: .202, 3 homers, 13 RBIs

The biggest disappointment of all those has to be Soriano, especially considering his whopping $136 million offseason deal with the Cubs. He hasn’t shown any of his 40-40 ability from last season, though a recent 9-game hitting streak shows he could be on the right track. Each of these sluggers will likely improve in May, though one of them might be a complete bust.

The AL April MVP: As much as month of baseball could be defined by one player, April was dominated by Alex Rodriguez. He was a threat to homer in every at-bat, and the only must-watch player besides Barry Bonds. A-Rod had two separate streaks of four games in a row with a homer, hit two walk-offs, and had an 18-game hitting streak to start the season. It annoys me when people diminish this excellent month by saying something like “he can’t hit in September and October when it counts.” His career splits show that his power numbers don’t decline throughout the season, and he’s a career .280 postseason hitter. It would surprise me if Rodriguez didn’t put up career-high numbers this season, and the Yankees would be making a huge mistake if they trade him.

The April NL MVP: Tie between Barry Bonds, Giants, and Jose Reyes, Mets: I found it hard to pick between these two players, who have both carried their teams offensively in different ways. Bonds appears back to his 2001-2004 form, with league-leading totals in on-base percentage, slugging, and OPS. While some thought he wouldn’t break the all-time homerun record until August, now it appears he’ll storm past 755 before the All Star break. However much you dislike Bonds as a person, it is impossible to refute the incredible season he is having. Unfortunately, teams are starting to walk him again, which is the only thing keeping Bonds from 50+ homers.

While Bonds and A-Rod have garnered much attention early this year, Reyes has gone nearly unnoticed. He broke out last season with career-highs in every category, and Reyes has been even better this year. He is an automatic base stealer with 17, almost one per game. While he has been criticized in the past for his low OBP, this year he is among the league leaders with an impressive .435. Reyes is now without a doubt the best leadoff hitter in baseball, and is also a member of the first-place Mets.

AL April Cy Young: Josh Beckett, Red Sox: The Red Sox are one of the best teams in baseball mainly because of their pitching. And while Dice-K has gotten all the attention, Beckett has gone 5-0 with a 2.48 ERA, supplying nearly a third of the Red Sox’s wins. While he’s been helped by an amazing amount of run support, Beckett has limited opponents to two runs or less in four of his five starts. While this kind of dominance likely won’t last for the somewhat inconsistent Beckett, he is definitely over his 2006 woes (5.01 ERA).

NL April Cy Young: Tim Hudson, Braves: The National League pitchers have been far more dominant than their AL counterparts, and no one has matched Tim Hudson. After a career-worst 2006, Hudson vowed to be back to form in 2007. After a great Spring Training, he has continued his success into the start of the regular season, in which he has been nearly unhittable. If a pitchers’ worst performance is an 8-inning, 3-run, 12-strikeout game, you know he’s been dominant. Hudson has lasted at least seven innings in each contest and is undefeated at 3-0. His 1.40 ERA is second in the league, and Hudson has played a huge role in the Braves’ return to the top of the division.

Sanjaya Malakar Award for “Biggest Overachiever:” I am currently waiting for the inevitable crash of the Milwaukee Brewers. At 16-9, they have one of the best records in the league, and they lead the awful NL Central easily. They have three solid pitchers at the top of the rotation in Jeff Suppan, Chris Capuano, and Ben Sheets. However, Suppan and Capuano will almost certainly decline from their current combined 8-2 mark, and closer Francisco Cordero is almost asking for a breakdown after a lights-out month. Right now, the only reason the Brewers are in first is by taking advantage of their terrible division opponents; however, it is highly likely that the Cardinals and Astros will rebound and pass Milwaukee within a month.

Al Davis Award for “Worst-Run Team:” Has there ever been a bigger mess of a team than the 2007 New York Yankees? Imagine any NFL franchise that had double the payroll of every team in the league. They wouldn’t lose a game, much less be in last place behind a team with one-sixth of their payroll. I understand their two best pitchers have been hurt (Ming-Wang and Mussina). Still, their pitchers were so awful they wasted the league’s best month by any player (A-Rod). Obviously they are way too talented offensively to finish with a losing record, but I would be shocked at this point if the Yankees make it to the playoffs.

Rocky Balboa Award for “Most Inevitable Comeback:” After a disastrous 2006, the Braves are back to the top of the division and it’s hardly surprising at all. The only thing holding them back last year was pitching, and they have three very good starters in Hudson, John Smoltz, and Chuck James. Their bullpen hasn’t been perfect, but they have the equivalent of three closers in Bob Wickman, Mike Gonzalez, and Rafael Soriano. That combined with a simply loaded lineup means the Braves will continue to at least keep pace with the Mets the rest of the season.

The April All-Stars: Here are the best of the best from the month of April:

C: Joe Mauer, Twins: leads all catchers in average, OBP, and slugging.
1B: Adrian Gonzalez, Padres: In an awful month for first basemen, Gonzalez stood out with 7 homers and 25 RBIs.
2B: Ian Kinsler, Rangers: I expected him to have a breakout year, but 9 homers and 22 RBIs are still shocking.
3B: Alex Rodriguez, Yankees: Miguel Cabrera’s great month got completely overshadowed at this position.
SS: Jose Reyes, Mets: No one can touch his all-around play.
OF: Barry Bonds: Back to his old self.
OF: Vladimir Guerrero: Might have a career-best season after putting up 7 homers, 23 RBIs, and a .370 average through April.
OF: Carlos Beltran: Arguably just as important to the Mets as Reyes, Beltran is among the league leaders in all major categories.
DH: Jim Thome: This slugger is drawing walks like there’s no tomorrow and is first in the AL in on-base percentage.
SP: Roy Halladay: One of baseball’s most consistent pitchers is 4-0 with a 2.28 ERA and two complete games.
SP: Tim Hudson: Living up to his preseason promises of returning to form.
RP: Francisco Cordero: A perfect month: 10 for 10 on saves, 0.00 ERA.

One reply on “The MLB April Awards”

What are you smoking? “Right now, the only reason the Brewers are in first is by taking advantage of their terrible division opponents; however, it is highly likely that the Cardinals and Astros will rebound and pass Milwaukee within a month.”

I guess the whole NL sucks then.

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