Now that we are into May let’s look back on some of the biggest surprises of April at each position. These players and their hot starts may not translate into yearlong Fantasy studs but they are worth a look and some are readily available in most leagues. The major criteria I looked at were Fantasy counting numbers and average draft position. What we can learn is that there is so much value late in drafts that drafting players in rounds 10-15 that out produce their counterparts will propel you the top of your leagues every year. Then there are those undrafted players who thrust themselves into mainstream Fantasy radar every year. So here is a snapshot by each position on who has come out of the April gate on fire.
Catcher: John Buck NYM, he has a fantasy line that in unreal for a catcher in April. His 9HR and 27 RBI have outdone all other Catchers in the last 10 years. The only Catcher close in the last decade was Charles Johnson with the Rockies. He was the only Catcher to hit over 6 HR in April, and Buck had 9 diggers. Buck is only owned in 76% of leagues and the problem with owning Buck is he may not even be around the 2nd half of the season with Travis D’Arnaud waiting for his shot.
I have to gives some praise to Carlos Santana and his amazing 1.194 OPS in April along with undrafted and former truck driver Evan Gattis with 6HR and 16 RBI in a platoon role in Atlanta.
First Base: Chris Davis BAL, he had a month that put him on pace for 56 HRs this year. His 9HR 28RBI and .337 BA easily top every other 1B in April. It took until last week before he was owned in over 90% of leagues. The 10th rounder is by far the best power value to date from all drafts.
Close on his heels though is Mark Reynolds. The all time single season K leader is making tremendous contact this year and his 8 HR and 22 RBI have helped Cleveland and Fantasy owners put up league leading numbers. The Tribe had scored more runs than the Tigers in April thanks to Reynolds hot bat.
Second Base: Chase Utley PHI, the recovery from injury Utley was my predicted comeback player of the year as stated in my Audacious Predictions. Utley has put up numbers like he did back when he was a perennial top 20 pick. All he did was hit 5HR with 19 RBI and 4SB. That puts him on pace for a 25/25 year.
Another player with 2B eligibility who went virtually undrafted is Ryan Raburn. All he has done is post 1.062 OPS to lead all 2B. He is someone the Indians have to give more playing to and is a player I have picked up all week in every league I could.
Shortstop: Jean Segura has by far put up the best stats than any other SS for his draft position. He had 3HR. 3 Doubles, 3 Triples and 10 RBI to go with 8SB. He also leads all SS with a .321BA. Segura is showing why he was the gem in the Greinke trade last year. Then for good measure he finished off April just a double shy of hitting for the cycle. He does have an inflated BABIP at the moment so look for a regression coming soon.
Outfield: There were so many choices for outfielder and those that were ranked high coming into drafts are producing but a couple of late rounder have given owners superb value. The first I have to mention is Starling Marte. The leadoff hitter for the Bucs is hitting .321 with 3HR 13 RBI and 7 SB. Its amazing he is only owned in 77% of leagues to date. The next is another leadoff hitter but in the AL; Nate McLouth. The last two week in April he hit .485 with 5SB and 14 Runs. He is the most picked up player over the last two weeks too. You too can still jump on the McLouth wagon because he is only owned in 66% of leagues.
Utility: I based this off players with at least a 3 position eligibility. No one has been better than Yuniesky Betancourt. Not to be more than a platoon/bench player for the Brew Crew this year he was forced into full time playing when Milwaukee lost every 1B and needed help at 3B due to injury. In 24 games he has shown both power and the ability to hit for average. If you are in daily leagues and need bench help pick up Betancourt.
Starting Pitcher: A couple of players who went virtually undrafted lead this list; that being Clay Buchholz and Ervin Santana. Both are having outstanding rebound years. Buchholz leads the surprising Red Sox and the Majors with 6Wins. His ERA just a tick over 1.00 and WHIP under 1.00 to go along with his 47 Ks. Santana who may have found his past glory and control leads the Royals with 3 W and a 2.00 ERA and a WHIP at 1.03. Buchholz is barely available in leagues but Santana and his possible 200Ks is widely available.
Relief Pitcher: One of the first to get a ride on the Closer carrousel was Jim Henderson in Milwaukee once Axford fell off the planet. The undrafted Henderson who didn’t even make a MLB roster until he was in his 30th year of life brings a powerful 13.5 K/9 arm to Fantasy Owners. The other RP is another grey beard in 36 year old Jason Grilli. He also may have the best nickname in baseball today “Grilled Cheese”. With a league leading 11 Saves he is on pace to be the 1st Pirates’ Closer with over 50 Saves. As a 16th round pick it just shows the volatility there is when taking Closers too early.
April saw some fantastic hitting and pitching; there were 67 Shutouts and nearly 800 HR hit so its hard to say if it is a hitters or pitchers year. There were snowouts, coldouts, along with big time injuries, a near perfecto, Revere's catch and a 19 inning affair, then a statemnet that the Cubs may leave Wrigley. .All that and still some tremendous numbers being put up. I’m just glad to have a half dozen fantasy teams and to be talking/writing about baseball everyday!