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Fantasy Baseball 2017: Best of April

A look at the best of April in fantasy baseball! Who had the most HR? SB? K? SV? That and more.

This group of baseball players did pretty well in April. Who else got off to a hot start?
Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

With the first month of fantasy baseball in the books, it’s time to look back at the month that was. I will look at the best hitters, power and speed wise, the best starters, from strikeout artists to ERA & WHIP leaders, and the best closers, with emphasis on saves. I will also talk about what stood out to me in this past month’s sample of stats. Let’s get to it!

Top 10 Overall Hitters of April

Rank Player R HR RBI SB AVG PR30
Rank Player R HR RBI SB AVG PR30
1 Ryan Zimmerman 22 11 29 1 0.420 14.51
2 Bryce Harper 32 9 26 0 0.391 13.76
3 Freddie Freeman 22 9 14 4 0.381 11.89
4 Mike Trout 18 7 18 5 0.364 11.54
5 Eric Thames 28 11 19 0 0.345 11.47
6 Paul Goldschmidt 21 4 19 7 0.315 10.76
7 A.J. Pollock 19 2 8 10 0.324 9.92
8 Aaron Judge 23 10 20 1 0.303 9.83
9 Chris Owings 13 4 19 7 0.311 9.17
10 Wil Myers 18 7 20 2 0.310 8.80

The #1 player in Fantasy Baseball through April is Ryan Zimmerman! Raise your hand if you predicted this… PUT YOUR HAND DOWN! This resurgence has been remarkable for Zimmerman. The most interesting part is I think it might be somewhat legit. He’s obviously not going to hit over .400 with 60+ bombs, but he has plenty of .300 AVG 25 HR seasons under his belt. He could have the best season of his career. Health is the only thing which could stand in the way. He has averaged just 90 games played over the past 3 seasons.

The top 10 doesn’t have too many surprises. Most are high draft picks or players who have quickly became fantasy baseball studs (Eric Thames/Aaron Judge). Chris Owings might surprise those who aren’t familiar with how well he’s playing. The easy comparison is his teammate A.J. Pollock but a second glace over the numbers and Owings is actually more compatible with Paul Goldschmidt. This is certainly good company for Owings. Expect the average to dip if he hits a slump but he should continue to contribute across all counting categories in what has been a very fantasy friendly lineup for the Diamondbacks.

Top Sluggers of April

Rank Player R HR RBI SB AVG PR30
Rank Player R HR RBI SB AVG PR30
1 Ryan Zimmerman 22 11 29 1 0.420 14.51
2 Eric Thames 28 11 19 0 0.345 11.47
3 Aaron Judge 23 10 20 1 0.303 9.83
4 Khris Davis 18 10 17 1 0.268 7.73
5 Bryce Harper 32 9 26 0 0.391 13.76
6 Freddie Freeman 22 9 14 4 0.381 11.89
7 Daniel Murphy 17 5 26 0 0.343 8.27
8 Miguel Sano 17 7 25 0 0.316 7.90
9 Charlie Blackmon 15 7 24 1 0.290 7.68
10 Nelson Cruz 14 7 23 1 0.315 7.75
11 Mark Reynolds 15 8 23 0 0.298 7.43
12 Albert Pujols 7 3 22 0 0.231 1.80

The criteria for the top sluggers of April are 9+ HR or 22+ RBI. 12 players met those qualifications. Just 2 hit the mark on both. Probably not a coincidence they are the top 2 hitters of April, Zimmerman and Bryce Harper. Harper is showing his true capabilities here in the early going. The only thing missing is steals. Although Harper owners certainly are complaining, Harper will probably keep a low SB total for much of the season. He’s hitting in the middle of the best lineup in baseball, the Nationals aren’t going to need Harper to steal many bags.

The 2 interesting hitters of this month’s set of sluggers are Freddie Freeman and Albert Pujols. Freeman has been outstanding with a .381 AVG and 9 HR, but just 14 RBI. Can we get some men on base for him, huh Braves? This number should go up, but a 30 HR 80 RBI season might be more realistic than expecting the first baseman to drive in over 100 runs. Pujols on the other hand, has just 3 HR and is hitting just .231. This has 2014 Ryan Howard written all over it.

Top Speedsters of April

Rank Player R HR RBI SB AVG PR30
Rank Player R HR RBI SB AVG PR30
1 A.J. Pollock 19 2 8 10 0.324 9.92
2 Billy Hamilton 10 0 3 10 0.213 3.58
3 Jarrod Dyson 11 0 5 8 0.229 3.33
4 Paul Goldschmidt 21 4 19 7 0.315 10.76
5 Chris Owings 13 4 19 7 0.311 9.17
6 Jose Altuve 13 3 8 7 0.326 7.21
7 Ender Inciarte 18 4 11 7 0.230 6.77
8 Eduardo Nunez 8 0 6 7 0.250 2.79
9 Jose Peraza 10 0 5 7 0.226 2.40
10 Jacoby Ellsbury 13 3 9 6 0.277 5.57
11 Lorenzo Cain 7 1 5 6 0.272 2.75
12 Keon Broxton 11 1 3 6 0.191 1.58

This month saw 12 player with 6 or more stolen bases. Of those 12, 4 hit 0 HR, 2 hit just 1 HR, and 5 had a batting average at .230 or below. Steals are essential in a roto league, but many of these players are hurting you in just about everything but SB. Billy Hamilton tied with Pollock for the most steals in April. I actually take this month for Hamilton as a positive. I believe he has it in him to hit around .250, this means he’s due for a month with more hits. If he can get 10 steals in a down month, just imagine the output he’d produce if he hits above .250. His teammate Jose Peraza, along with Keon Broxton for that matter, are hurting their teams so badly with their offense outside of steals, I wouldn’t be surprised if they begin to looking playing time.

Top 10 Starters of April

Rank Player K W ERA WHIP PR30
Rank Player K W ERA WHIP PR30
1 Dallas Keuchel 36 5 1.21 0.81 10.65
2 Ervin Santana 26 4 0.77 0.66 9.08
3 Clayton Kershaw 39 4 2.29 0.79 8.48
4 Chris Sale 52 1 1.19 0.77 8.28
5 James Paxton 39 3 1.39 0.84 7.86
6 Ivan Nova 22 3 1.50 0.75 6.99
7 Carlos Carrasco 34 2 2.04 0.79 6.54
8 Max Scherzer 40 3 2.94 0.98 6.27
9 Andrew Triggs 22 4 1.84 0.92 6.25
10 Yu Darvish 41 3 3.03 1.06 6.14

Dallas Keuchel leaves April as the #1 SP in fantasy. Not only were the ratios excellent (1.21ERA and 0.81WHIP) but he recorded a win in each of his 5 starts. He certainly looks like he’s in for a remarkable season. The wins should remain to be there and although the strikeouts aren’t great, just 7.3K/9, Keuchel is a must start until proven otherwise.

Speaking of low strikeout totals, 3 of the top 10 SP of April had 26 or fewer Ks. Ervin Santana (6.7K/9), Ivan Nova (5.5K/9), and Andrew Triggs (6.8K/9) are having owners wondering if they can keep up their great April performances with such low strikeout totals. The simple answer is, no. At least not at their current ratios. That being said, they all warrant start-by-start consideration in all formats. Nova will probably be the easiest to trust on a consistent basis due to his home ballpark and being in the National League.

Top Strikeout Pitchers of April

Rank Player K W ERA WHIP PR30
Rank Player K W ERA WHIP PR30
1 Chris Sale 52 1 1.19 0.77 8.28
2 Jacob deGrom 44 1 2.84 1.17 4.10
3 Danny Salazar 42 2 4.34 1.38 2.83
4 Yu Darvish 41 3 3.03 1.06 6.14
5 Max Scherzer 40 3 2.94 0.98 6.27
6 Zack Greinke 40 2 3.19 1.23 4.20
7 Clayton Kershaw 39 4 2.29 0.79 8.48
8 James Paxton 39 3 1.39 0.84 7.86
9 Robbie Ray 39 2 3.56 1.35 3.20
10 Carlos Martinez 39 0 4.71 1.47 0.30

April saw a total of 10 pitchers reach 39 or more punch outs. Chris Sale if off to perhaps the best start of any pitchers, Keuchel included. As if a 1.19 ERA and 0.77 WHIP wasn’t good enough, Sale has 52 Ks. That is 8 more than the next closest pitcher. Sale has started his Red Sox career with a career high 12.4K/9. Now if we could just get him some run support.

Jacob deGrom was ranked rather poorly during the Spring Training. So far, so good for the Mets star. Injury has plagued New York’s rotation, hopefully deGrom can avoid the curse. Like Sale, deGrom has just 1 win, but he has been dominant in April. He has a 12.5K/9 and a .222 batting average against.

Top ERA and WHIP of April

Rank Player K W ERA WHIP PR30
Rank Player K W ERA WHIP PR30
1 Ervin Santana 26 4 0.77 0.66 9.08
2 Chris Sale 52 1 1.19 0.77 8.28
3 Dallas Keuchel 36 5 1.21 0.81 10.65
4 Mike Leake 25 3 1.34 0.99 6.04
5 James Paxton 39 3 1.39 0.84 7.86
6 Jason Vargas 28 3 1.40 0.90 5.99
7 Ivan Nova 22 3 1.50 0.75 6.99
8 Gio Gonzalez 26 3 1.62 1.14 5.26
9 Dylan Bundy 23 3 1.65 0.98 5.64
10 Jeremy Hellickson 11 4 1.80 0.80 5.85
11 Andrew Triggs 22 4 1.84 0.92 6.25
12 Luis Severino 33 2 3.00 0.78 5.17
13 Clayton Kershaw 39 4 2.29 0.79 8.48
14 Carlos Carrasco 34 2 2.04 0.79 6.54
15 Max Scherzer 40 3 2.94 0.98 6.27
16 Ian Kennedy 28 0 2.30 0.99 2.96
17 Stephen Strasburg 31 2 3.09 1.00 4.49
18 Antonio Senzatela 18 3 2.81 1.00 4.23
19 Michael Fulmer 26 2 3.19 1.00 3.78

19 pitchers make this list with an ERA at or under 2.00 OR a WHIP at or under 1.00 with minimum of 25 innings pitched. 11 starters had an ERA under 2.00 and 8 starters has a WHIP under 1.00. Of the 11 sub 2.00 ERA pitchers, only Gio Gonzalez had a WHIP over 1.00. Just as everyone predicted, Ervin Santana not only has the lowest ERA in April, he also has the lowest WHIP. It will be fun to see how long Santana can keep this going. Of the ERA leaders, only 2-3 at the most are Top 50 options. Look for the clock to strike midnight on most of this group in May. The WHIP leaders have a few more familiar names. I also have far much more faith in these pitchers keeping their hot starts up. Antonio Senzatela jumps out as the stand out of this group. His home ballpark is Coors Field... do I need to say more?

Top Closers of April

Rank Player K W SV ERA WHIP PR30
Rank Player K W SV ERA WHIP PR30
1 Greg Holland 13 0 11 1.50 1.00 7.29
2 Craig Kimbrel 20 1 8 1.59 0.62 7.48
3 Kenley Jansen 17 1 7 1.86 0.83 5.93
4 Brandon Kintzler 6 0 7 0.79 0.97 4.36
5 Tony Watson 5 0 7 0.96 1.50 3.17
6 Wade Davis 12 2 6 0.00 0.58 6.70
7 Cody Allen 20 0 6 0.90 1.10 4.58
8 Ken Giles 14 0 6 4.35 0.97 3.35
9 Seung-Hwan Oh 10 1 6 4.50 1.33 3.17
10 Neftali Feliz 11 0 6 5.91 1.03 2.55
11 Francisco Rodriguez 11 1 6 5.59 1.66 2.51
12 Fernando Rodney 13 1 6 12.60 2.30 -0.25

We had 12 closer who had 6 saves or more in the month of April. Closers are always unpredictable. Look no further than the April leaders of saves to prove this statement. Greg Holland has been a waiver wire steal for fanasy owners so far. He had 11 saves in April, 3 more than the next closest. The home ballpark is a worry, but he does have solid strikeout stuff which will limit his amount of contact against him. He could have rough outings in the future, but he has done enough to secure a tight grip on the Rockies closer role.

Both Brandon Kintzler and Tony Watson accomplish the feat of having more save than strikeouts. I have a feeling I know who will be discussed in the upcoming Pure Reliever Rankings! They both have secure jobs and should rack up more saves in May, the ability to rack of Ks remains to be seen.

The 'just close your eyes and be happy with the saves' award of April goes to Fernando Rodney. Rodney managed 6 saves despite having a 12.60 ERA and 2.30 WHIP in April. Impressive! The scary part is that the Diamondbacks don't have any strong options in their bullpen who could threaten Rodney for saves. My heart goes out to all the Rodney owners... good luck to you.

That's it for the top performing players of April. See you next month! Feel free to let me know what you found most interesting in this research.

Thanks for the read!