Thursday, May 1, 2014

April Awards

May is here, which means the first month of baseball is in the books. Thus, it's time to hand out some awards.

American League
Player of the Month-Jose Bautista
Joey Bats is back. The slugging rightfielder drew 30 walks last month, most in baseball, to fuel his AL-best .467 OBP and 1.065 OPS. He also went yard eight times, tying Jose Abreu and Justin Upton for the best AB/HR ratio in the sport, scored 24 runs, and reached base more times than any player in baseball.

Pitcher of the Month-Masahiro Tanaka
The highly touted Japanese rookie has been even better than anticipated for the Yankees, asserting himself as the ace of New York's staff. His 2.27 ERA, 2.96 FIP and 0.93 WHIP are all superb, as is his 11.6 K/9 rate and 7.67 K/BB ratio. He's pitched at least seven innings in four of his five starts (all of which have produced a Game Score better than 60) and recorded double digit strikeouts three times. The Yankees have to be satisfied with the early returns on their seven-year, $155 million investment.

Rookie of the Month-Jose Abreu
What a month it was for Abreu, who surpassed Albert Pujols' rookie records for home runs and RBI in the month of April, finishing with 10 and 32, respectively--most in the majors. The Cuban slugger also leads the sport in total bases, AB/HR ratio, and extra base hits, plus has the best slugging percentage in the American League.

Team of the Month-Oakland A's
Led by its dominant pitching staff and potent offense, Oakland rolled to an 18-10 record in April behind the best run-differential in the sport, putting them three wins ahead of every other American League team. Strong starts from Sonny Gray, Scott Kazmir, and Jesse Chavez have picked up the slack for A.J. Griffin and Jarrod Parker (lost for the season), helping Oakland maintain the league's lowest ERA. The lineup, which leads all of baseball in walks and has the second-highest OBP, has been boosted by Josh Donaldson, Jed Lowrie, Coco Crisp, Yoenis Cespedes, and Brandon Moss. The two-time defending AL West champs once again find themselves at the top of the standings and have put themselves in good position to three-peat.

National League
Player of the Month-Troy Tulowitzki
Tulo batted a scorching hot .364/.477/.727 in April to finish the month with the sport's highest OBP, SLG, OPS, and second best batting average (behind teammate Charlie Blackmon). The NL runs scored leader is also tops in bWAR, OPS+. and runs created. He's a big reason why the Rockies are tied with LA for second place in the NL West right now.

Pitcher of the Month-Johnny Cueto
Cincinnati's ace leads both leagues in ERA (with a microscopic 1.15) and innings pitched, as well as complete games, ERA+, and H/9. He also has a 0.77 WHIP, 3.57 K/BB ratio and is striking out more than a batter per inning. He's allowed just six runs in his six starts, all of which have lasted at least seven innings, and his average Game Score thus far is a 76.

Rookie of the Month-Chris Owings
Not a whole lot of NL Rookies contributing right now. Arizona's 22 year-old shortstop is batting a solid .313/.367/.398 with five doubles and four stolen bases. Along with Paul Goldschmidt and Mark Trumbo, he's one of the few bright spots on a disastrous Diamondbacks team.

Team of the Month-Milwaukee Brewers
The Brew Crew boast the best record in baseball at 20-8, largely thanks to their lights-out starting pitching and stellar bullpen work. Four of their five starting pitchers have ERAs below 2.90 (newcomer Matt Garza, at an even 5.00, is lagging behind) with Yovani Gallardo, Kyle Lohse, Marco Estrada and Wily Peralta all pitching like aces. The bullpen's been even better; backed by a perfect Francisco Rodriguez (0.00 ERA in 16 appearances) and near-perfect Tyler Thornburg (0.61 in 14), Milwaukee's 'pen has a 2.45 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and 4.12 K/BB ratio. Offensively, the Brewers are getting production from multiple sources. Ryan Braun and Carlos Gomez are off to MVP-caliber starts, and they're getting plenty of help from Aramis Ramirez, Jonathan Lucroy, and Mark Reynolds.

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