For baseball fans, the first month of the season is exciting, and no matter how many times we remind ourselves that "It’s only April," we still begin to make assessments about players and teams and let the rest of the season prove us wrong. Let’s face it: Small sample sizes aren’t often useful, but they can be fun.
In an effort to use these small sample sizes to my advantage, I’ve decided to look at April’s numbers—from all aspects of the game—to discern who was April’s best overall baseball player. The result? Mr. Adrilly Claxtolos Pabrimmick, who dominated all aspects of the game in his first month as a big leaguer. Let’s check out the elements that made him so successful:
ISO (.407), wOBA (.514), wRC+ (.236): Adrian Gonzalez
Adrian Gonzalez started the year scorching hot, crushing five home runs through his first 13 at bats, and hasn’t looked back much since. He finished the month with 17 of his 31 hits going for extra bases and has walked nine times (twice intentionally) compared to only 10 strikeouts. If he continues at this Herculean pace—which he won’t, because, duh—he’ll likely have the best hitter’s season in baseball history. Do you smell that, folks? It’s the lovely scent of upcoming regression—at least back to the normal excellence of Gonzalez’s bat.
BsR (4.0): Billy Hamilton
Rounding out the offensive side of things, Billy Hamilton has been, well, exactly what we expected him to be on the base paths. Aside from the obvious jaw-dropping speed that Hamilton has shown throughout his professional baseball career—like this video of him stealing second on a pitch-out—he’s increased his efficiency by leaps and bounds. He stole 13 bases this year and has been caught only once, which is a far cry from the way he started 2014, stealing 11 bases and getting caught on five occasions. The rate will likely decrease, but if he improves his decision-making enough to get out less often, catchers beware.
FIP (1.64): Max Scherzer
Some new threads and a time zone change haven’t affected Max Scherzer much; he’s been as dominant as ever in his first month for the Washington Nationals. His 1.64 FIP leads all qualified starters in April, and his 1.26 ERA places him sixth on the leaderboard. To top it off, his 1.3 fWAR leads all pitchers, even with his lackluster 1-2 record. #KillTheWin
LOB% (100%): Carlos Martinez
100 percent? 100 percent?!?! It may be a small sample size—26 innings over four starts—but this is outrageous. In any case, last season—though also a very small sample size of just over 89 innings—he posted a 71.5 LOB%, meaning that his very impressive 1.73 ERA is sure to rise a lot by season’s end. For now, though, just enjoy the insanity.
K/9 (12.35): Clayton Kershaw
Ah, Clayton. Baseball’s pitching king is bound to be on every "best players in baseball" list, even if we are just looking at one month’s results. This time, it’s his strikeouts per nine innings rate that is lighting up The City of Angels. Through his first five starts, he’s thrown 43 strikeouts in 31.1 innings, putting him atop the leaderboard for total strikeouts as well. Although he’s never posted a K/9 above 11.00 in a season, his first double-digit K/9 came last season, meaning the more strikeout-happy Kershaw may be a trend to watch.
BB/9 (0.28): Bartolo Colon
Would you believe it if I told you that Bartolo Colon is turning 42 years old in May? The oft-joked about Colon has never finished a season below 1.00 in BB/9 but has been below 1.40 in each of the last three seasons. Maybe, just maybe, Bartolo, like a fine wine, is getting better with age.
UZR/150: OF - Jake Marisnick (71.4); IF - Asdrubal Cabrera (46.5)
To give credence to both outfielders and infielders, I wanted to showcase the best of both worlds on defense. We all know Asdrubal Cabrera, he of the bare-handed double-play species, but have you met Jake "The One Who Climbs Hills" Marisnick? I hope you have, but if not, allow me to introduce you:
Def: OF - Jon Jay (5.4); IF - Andrelton Simmons (5.1); C - Salvador Perez (4.8)
Three familiar names on the defensive side of things (even if Jon Jay did this), so no major surprises here. But, I’ll still treat you to a few highlights. Here are three of April’s best:
So, there you have it. Baseball’s best player in April, a Frankenstein of a man who embodies all aspects of the game. Alas, someone finally better than Mike Trout*.
*Who am I kidding? Trout finished tied for first with Matt Carpenter for the best fWAR through April. Even a cyborg of a ballplayer couldn’t beat him.
All statistics courtesy of Fangraphs.
Evan Kendall is a contributor at Beyond the Box Score and co-founder of The Sports Post. You can follow him on Twitter at @Evan_TSP.