The first month of the major league baseball season was a whirlwind. In the American League, Tampa Bay, Cleveland, and Texas lead their respective divisions.
As is always the case, some players have come from out of nowhere to surprise with their production while others have been flat out terrible. We’re only one month in so much will change, but with a full calendar month now in the books it’s time to nominate April’s American League all-position team.
Catcher – A.J. Pierzynski, White Sox –Pierzynski has been a vital piece to the solid start put together by Robin Ventura’s White Sox. He has handled a much improved pitching staff extremely well while batting .309 with 4 bombs and 17 RBI’s. I don’t think he has the juice to stay atop this list for long but after one month he is the best in the American League. (runner up: Matt Wieters)
First Base – Paul Konerko, White Sox – Always overlooked, and endlessly productive, Konerko tore AL pitching apart in April. He hit .383 with 9 doubles, 5 homers, and 17 RBI’s. He is underrated defensively and is the glue that holds this team together. (runner up: Carlos Pena)
Second Base – Ian Kinsler, Rangers – Kinsler gets the nod at 2nd base. When he’s healthy, he’s about as good as it gets, and right now he’s healthy. He had 14 extra-base hits in April, walked 15 times, scored a major league leading 24 runs (tied with Matt Kemp), and drove in 12 out of the leadoff spot. (runner up: Dustin Pedroia)
Shortstop – Derek Jeter, Yankees – The 37-year old captain is back to his old dominant self. He sported a .389 April batting average and a .433 on-base%. He ripped 6 doubles, 4 homers, drove in 13, and scored 16. His legs seem to be rejuvenated and he looks ready to lead the Yankees back to the playoffs yet again. (runner up: Mike Aviles)
Third Base – Evan Longoria, Rays – Now on the shelf for 2 months with a partially torn left hamstring, the Rays are left to wonder what they can do without their one true offensive star. Longoria hit .329 with a .433 on-base % while driving in 19 runs with 4 homers and 7 doubles during April. He was the perfect medicine for Carlos Pena in that lineup. Tampa will obviously miss him but who better to adjust than the incomparable Joe Maddon. (runner up: Miguel Cabrera)
Josh Hamilton, Rangers – Hamilton is essentially the American League’s version of Matt Kemp. He hit .395 in April with 9 homers, 25 RBI’s, and 20 runs. He is battling a minor injury right now which could ultimately threaten his quest at playing 156 games on the season. Regardless, he is the best player in the American League when he’s on his game.
Adam Jones, Orioles – Jones broke out in 2011 and has continued his hot streak in 2012. During April, he batted .333 with 6 homers, 5 doubles, 12 RBI’s, 18 runs, and 4 steals. He has the entire package with one glaring exception – walks. He has drawn just 3 this year. His tendency to be a free-swinger will limit his batting average upside but he’s still a multi-tool threat every night out.
Josh Willingham, Twins – What a welcome addition Willingham has been. He’s hitting a robust .347 with 5 homers and 15 RBI’s in an improving Twins lineup. Nothing in his past suggests he can keep up the batting average pace but the power numbers are real.
Designated Hitter – David Ortiz, Red Sox – This guy just keeps on hitting. A .405 April easily makes him the best DH in the league. His on-base % is .457 and he slugged at a ridiculous .726 clip. His 6 homers and 20 RBI’s power a still strong Red Sox lineup. (runner up: Edwin Encarnacion)
[National League All-April Team]
Starting Pitchers (3)
Jake Peavy, White Sox – Peavy has finally brought his National League Cy Young game to the AL. He has a 33:5 strikeout to walk ratio to match his silly 1.67 ERA, 0.69 WHIP, and solid 3-1 record. If he can continue at a dominant pace the White Sox could threaten the Tigers in September.
Felix Hernandez, Mariners – The King leads the AL in innings and strikeouts thanks to a league high 6 starts, which make his overall stats a little more credible. He boasts a 2.23 ERA and 1.04 WHIP. His record is just 2-1 but Hernandez has turned in quality starts 5 out of 6 times out.
Jered Weaver, Angels – It’s not easy to dominate on a team that is flat out struggling like the Angels are, but Weaver is doing it. He has a 36:6 K to walk ratio, 3-0 record, 2.02 ERA and 0.95 WHIP. Now if he could just get a little help from his friends.
Jim Johnson, Orioles – How about Jim Johnson. He finishes April with a perfect 0.00 ERA and 7 saves. He struck out 6 in 8.2 innings, but did issue 4 walks. (runner up: Fernando Rodney)
Overall Hitter of the Month – Josh Hamilton
Overall Pitcher of the Month – Jake Peavy
Overall Team of the Month – Texas Rangers (17-6). They are 9-1 on the road and can stake claim to a MLB best +56 run differential.
You can follow me on Twitter @isportsJoe