MLB: April’s National League top players by position
BY ROB WHITE, Feedcrossing.com syndication
April is in the books and the Dodgers have led the charge in the NL. The Cardinals have found life without Pujols is not so bad and the Nationals sure can pitch, but can they score some runs?
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 National League all-position team.
• Catcher – Buster Posey, Giants – Posey has been nothing short of brilliant in his return from last year’s devastating injury. His .353 batting average was 4th best in the NL during the season’s opening month. He has also swatted 4 homers to go along with 9 RBI. (runner up: Yadier Molina)
• First Base – Freddie Freeman, Braves – Back in March we pegged Freeman as the NL East’s top first baseman. He now exits April as the top first sacker in the league. Freeman is batting .283 with 4 long balls and 18 RBI. (runner up: Adam LaRoche)
• Second Base – Jose Altuve, Astros – Altuve has been scorching the ball to the tune of a .360 batting average. He has also swiped 4 bases, scored 15 runs and driven in 10 for the offensively challenged Astros. He is likely to come back to earth a bit, but there is no denying he was tremendous in April. (runner up: Daniel Murphy)
• Shortstop – Starlin Castro, Cubs – He finished April with a .33 batting average and an MLB best 10 stolen bases. He hasn’t homered yet, but he has 5 doubles, 2 triples and 14 RBI. Castro is also an outstanding defensive player. (runner up: Rafael Furcal)
• Third Base – David Freese, Cardinals – He hasn’t cooled off after his incredible October. Freese ranks 3rd in the NL with 23 RBI. He has also belted 6 home runs and is batting a crisp .333. (runner up: David Wright)
• Matt Kemp, Dodgers – Kemp has kicked beast mode into overdrive. He had a historic April becoming the third since 1920 (when RBI became official) to hit .400 with 10+ HR and 25+ RBI in April; joins Larry Walker ’97,Tony Perez ’70. There is no reason to expect him to slow down either.
• Ryan Braun, Brewers – So far, Braun is surviving life without Prince Fielder batting behind him. He is tied for second (with the next guy on this list) in the NL with 7 homers. He also has 17 RBI and a .291 batting average. Braun is the heartbeat of the Brewers franchise. His successful appeal of the 50 game PEDs suspension raised more questions than answers, but it is in the past and Braun is moving forward steady as usual.
• Jay Bruce, Reds – He finished April on a power binge with homers in 4 consecutive games. For the month, Bruce smacked 7 long balls, drove in 17 runs and compiled a solid .296 average. Heck he even stole 3 bases and has a cannon for an arm.
Starting Pitchers (3)
• Stephen Strasburg, Nationals – He finished April tied for second in the NL with 34 strike outs. He also owns a razor thin 1.13 ERA which is second best in the NL and his WHIP is 0.88. Strasburg’s record is 2-0 and he has earned a quality start in all 4 of his starts this season.
• Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers – Kershaw is a dominating force on the mound. He sports a 2-0 record with 28 punch outs and a 1.78 ERA. His WHIP is equally outstanding at 0.89
• Lance Lynn, Cardinals – Lynn has been dynamite with a 4-0 record and a sparkling 1.33 ERA to go along with a 0.81 WHIP. He has 24 strike outs in 27 innings with just 6 walks. He has had the good fortune of pitching against the Cubs twice and the Pirates once in his 4 starts.
• Jonathan Papelbon, Phillies – I bet Red Sox nation wouldn’t mind having him closing games out this season. Papelbon has made a smooth transition to the NL with an MLB best 9 saves. His ERA is a pencil thin 0.82 and he has fanned 11 batters in 11 innings of work. (runner up: Craig Kimbrel)
• Overall Hitter of the Month – Matt Kemp
• Overall Pitcher of the Month – Stephen Strasburg
• Overall Team of the Month – The Los Angeles Dodgers left April with the best record in the NL (16-7), the best hitter in baseball, Matt Kemp, and one of the top pitchers in baseball, Clayton Kershaw.
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