The first ChipalattAwards for 2019 cover the four games played at Tampa in March, plus the 26 games played in April. Thus the Mapril awards. The Astros fell into a 4 1/2 game hole in the division after the first week but ended the month at 18-12 and one game ahead of the Mariners for the AL West lead and two games behind the Rays for the best record in the AL.
There were a number of solid choices for the awards this month, so let’s go ahead and make our reveal.
Starting Pitcher of the Month. Justin Verlander. The Astros ace mostly pitched like one in compiling a 4-1 record, where his only loss was a tough-luck 1-0 defeat at Minnesota. He led the starters in ERA (2.45), IP (44) and WHIP (0.864) while putting up a solid 10.8 Ks/ 9 IP.
Runner-up. Wade Miley. The new addition to the starting rotation was very good with a 3.24 ERA on the month. His record was only 1-2, but the team was 4-2 in his starts through April as they scored only 2 runs total in his two losses (3-1 and 2-1) and they scored late in his three no-decisions. So far he looks like a left-handed bargain at $4.5 million for 2019.
Everyday Player of the Month. George Springer. His .274 BA was not eyepopping, but his .927 OPS was top notch and he did what he was supposed to do as a run producer. Through April he scored 21 runs, had 7 doubles and 9 HRs and a team-leading 24 RBIs. He was helped by an end of the lineup that was getting on base, but he was taking advantage of those situations and was in the middle of many of the team’s rallies.
Runner-up. Michael Brantley. Brantley was as good as advertised after joining the Astros from the Indians, posting a sparkling slash (.331 BA/.380 OBP/.897 OPS) out of the cleanup spot. He scored 16 runs, had 7 doubles, 5 HRs and 18 RBIs and who knows how that would look if Jose Altuve was having a normal start in front of him. Brantley continued his big-time hitting in May, especially a nutty weekend in Monterrey.
Relief Pitcher of the Month. Ryan Pressly. In 11 appearances, he has 1 win, 2 saves and has an ERA of 0.00 in 12.1 IPs. He has not walked anyone this season and had a microscopic WHIP of 0.405. He has continued his dominance in May and now between 2018 and 2019 holds the longest scoreless streak (33 IP and counting) in team history, unseating the great Roy Oswalt. Even the pointy head spin counters in the front office could not have foreseen his dominance since his trade at the deadline last season.
Runner-up. Roberto Osuna. If someone wanted to give this award to Osuna (2-0 and 7 of 7 in save opportunities) instead of Pressly they would have a good argument. Osuna does have one run against him this month (0.73 ERA), but he was better at preventing inherited runners from scoring (stranded the two runners he did inherit, while Pressly allowed 2 of 3 inherited runners to score). Like Pressly he has not allowed a walk on the month and ended April with an even better WHIP of 0.243. Other teams trailing late against the Astros are falling into a black hole of hopelessness……
Biggest Surprise (Positive). Wade Miley. See discussion above, but he came in as a probable #4 or 5 in the rotation and has performed as a solid #2 or 3.
Runner-up. Josh Reddick. Reddick was one of the bigger disappointments in 2018 as he experienced an approx. 70 pt drop in batting average and a 130 pt drop in OPS. He has been one of the team’s top hitters in 2019 with a .352 BA / .404 OBP/ .888 OPS slash through April.
Biggest Surprise (Negative). Max Stassi. Yes, he is only the backup catcher, but he is getting into about a 1/3 of the games and he has stunk at the plate (.103 BA/ .133 OBP/ .340 OPS slash) through April. He had a couple hits in Monterrey (who didn’t) but this has to be a spot where the front office may be thinking about an upgrade.
Runner-up. Josh James. Probably too much was expected of the young man after his strong end to 2018 and after missing a big chunk of spring training. In a bullpen that has been as stingy as Ebenezer Scrooge (before his “bad dream” night), James has been as generous as Ebenezer Scrooge (after meeting the past, present and future ghosts). Through April, he had an ugly 7.36 ERA and the last seat in the bullpen. He seemed to have stopped the bleeding with two scoreless outings in his latest appearances, and with his arm talent, the hope is that he will return to the dominance he showed last season.
The surprising stat award. Tyler White with 0 RBIs through April. This despite the fact 14 games in he had a solid .297 / .435 / .786 slash. This is a guy who is hitting .286 BA / .385 OBP .718 OPS with men on base. Oh…..with runners in scoring position, he is hitting .154 BA / .294 OBP/ .448 OPS. Maybe we found the problem.
The looking over his shoulder award. Tony Kemp. Even with his dramatic walk-off HR Tony is slashing a puny .186 BA/ .265 OBP/ .591 OPS. There is some shmo named Yordan Alvarez slashing .402/ .496/ 1.372 at AAA. Yes, Jeff Luhnow referenced Kyle Tucker when he said that folks should not expect AAA studs to hit the ground running in the majors, but at some point if someone/anyone gets an infected hangnail, maternity leave or whatever, there will be an opportunity for this kid (not currently on the 40 man – but there is room). And he is the kind of talent who might take advantage of the chance that Tucker failed to grab last season.
Bottom line, do you agree with these awards?
Want to propose awards of your own?