In case you didn't get the memo, Matt Kemp is pretty good. (Photo by Jeff Golden/Getty Images)
If only fantasy championships were won in April. I'm sure many of us have, over the years, seen our teams atop the standings on May 1st and just wished Bud Selig would declare the season dead so we could bask in our small sample size-addled winnings. I'm sure many a mediocre manager has dreamed of riding a flukish month from a group of heretofore washed up veterans to glory, or hoisting a fantasy flag due to Chris Shelton's one stretch of relevance.
Sadly, as the old adage goes, championships are not won in April. There's still plenty of time for your team to plummet back down to Earth in a whirlwind of injuries, knee-jerk trade decisions, and odd obsessions with pet players. Like Icarus, many teams will fly too close to the sun, although instead of the day star, fantasy managers will have their wings melted by the shine of 33 innings of Kyle Lohse.
This doesn't mean we can't celebrate April's heroes, however. After the jump, the fantasy MVPs of April, by position, and whether or not they can keep it going into May and beyond. Even if your team is destined to flame out, you can still stop to appreciate the players who got you off to such a fun start to 2012.
C: Matt Wieters
I know people are probably tired of me raving about Matt Wieters like a drunken groupie here on Fake Teams, but I, for one, am completely thrilled that he's finally swinging like one of the best catchers in the league. It's about time, too. Keeper leaguers who have held on to him like grim death since his debut in 2009 have been waiting, rather impatiently, for him to demonstrate the infinite potential we all knew he had. Given his youth and the fact that scouts have expected this kind of production from day one, Wieters is likely to continue on this torrid pace, or at least something close to it. Honorable mention to Mike Napoli, for his seven April home runs, for his .909 OPS, and for being generally awesome.
I had to wrestle with this one, simply because when we think of first basemen, we don't immediately picture Edwin Encarnacion. I could have picked Paul Konerko, but I decided to cheat. Granted, Encarnacion has started the majority of his games this year as the DH, but this is fantasy baseball, and he's eligible at first base, and he's been flat out raking. Encarnacion leads all first base eligibles in home runs and is second in RBIs and OPS. He's even thrown in four stolen bases for good measure. Of all the hitters going nutzoid in the season's opening month, Encarnacion is clearly the most likely candidate to fall back to earth. Given his uninspiring history, he should be the .790ish OPS guy we all know and love in no time.
2B: Ian Kinsler
I so wanted to put Omar Infante here just for the sheer shock value of having Omar Infante listed as MVP of anything. Infante has been on a tear so far, hitting five home runs and putting up a .323 batting average, but he's done all this in about thirty fewer at-bats than Kinsler. Kinsler is providing his typical power/walk/speed combo at one of the toughest positions to fill with a quality bat, so he gets the nod. I will say this: if you had gone around on April 1st telling people that Infante would be leading the Marlins in home runs at this point instead of, say, Giancarlo Stanton, you'd have been referred to the nearest insane asylum and probably beaten for heresy.
SS: Derek Jeter
Okay, what joker got into the occult section in the library and resurrected Jeter's decaying remains? Jeter has apparently found the fountain of youth this season and has been easily the best shortstop so far, leading all qualifiers at the position in batting average and OPS. Maybe he's been eating his Wheaties, or maybe he's been reinvigorated re-living the single life (though who would dare call her a ball-and-chain?). Whatever it is, Jeter has been hitting like 'twas 1999 all over again. He came on strong at the end of last season, and Yankee hitting coach Kevin Long is apparently a genius, so while Jeter isn't going hit like an MVP all year, don't be surprised if he still ends up around the .300/.380/.450 guy we've come to know so well.
3B: Miguel Cabrera
Another close call at this position. You could argue for David Wright or Evan Longoria here, but I'll go with Cabrera because he leads all third sackers in home runs and RBIs (I'm not considering Edwin Encarnacion here because I already labeled him as a first baseman, and what fun are repeats?). The only thing to say about Cabrera here is that his .940 OPS can actually be considered disappointing. He topped 1.000 in each of the last two seasons. If we do MVP picks for each month, he's the guy most likely to appear as the top player at his position every single time.
OF: Matt Kemp
Before the season started, as many managers were debating whether or not to take Kemp with the top overall pick, some naysayers questioned Kemp's history of poor contact rates and shaky attitude, and decided that his MVP-caliber 2011 may have been the best he had to offer. Those people, people like yours truly, have thus far had crow broiled to well-done and crammed down their throats. Not only has Kemp been the MVP of the entire league, he just finished up what was likely one of the best single months in the history of the game. .417/.490/.893. I'm not even going to waste time jotting down superlatives. Just sit there and gaze at the beauty of that triple slash line. If he keeps hitting like this, maybe he won't be jobbed out of an MVP this year.
Other pitchers have more wins, others have more innings, but Strasburg has been unconscious so far, putting up an ERA of 1.13 in five starts. The back of his baseball card after one month looks like something you'd see from a pitcher in 1968. He's allowed just 22 hits and six walks in 32 innings, and looks none the worse for wear after missing the majority of 2011. He's well on the way to being the best starter in baseball, and if he continues to pitch like this and the Nats are in playoff contention, you might see the team loosen the innings cap a little.
RP: Craig Kimbrel
Kimbrel's WHIP has been a disaster, but he tied for the league lead in saves in April and led all closers in strikeouts. That's all you really ask for from your closer, as long as the poor WHIP doesn't go along with a subpar ERA, which wasn't the case with Kimbrel. He fought control problems down the stretch last year and has been a little wild so far, which has to be cause for some concern, but as long as Kenley Jansen is being used in an eighth inning role, Kimbrel will likely still be the top stat-filling closer going forward.