April was a mediocre month for the Astros as they went 11-10. Their high point was a 4-1 record in the middle of the second series of the year with the D’Backs. Their low point was a 4 game losing streak that left them at 6-8 on the 23rd of April. Without being spectacular, their pitching was solid for the month (3.58 ERA), but their hitting was in the bottom third of the majors (.214 BA – 24th/ .290 OBP – 23rd/.660 OPS – 18th/ 80 runs – 21st).
Be that as it may, we are actually here to try and honor those who did well in the first month of the season.
Here is a quick chart of the Astros’ pitchers in April
|Name||Gm||W||L||Svs||IP||ERA||WHIP||HR||Ks/9 IP||BAA||OBPA||OPSA||IR/ IS|
Note – I added the IR (Inherited runners) / IS (Inherited runners who scored) stat for the relievers. Some interesting numbers there.
Starting Pitcher of the Month. Justin Verlander – He made a statement about how his two years off with the Tommy John surgery did not change him. He once again was pitching like the Cy Young winner he was in 2019. And he is giving off those Nolan Ryan/Tom Brady vibes about how he will likely continue as a stud into his 40s.
Runner-up. Framber Valdez – He still struggles with his control at times, but he is tough to hit and keeps the run-scoring down, as his fine 3.15 ERA showed.
Relief Pitcher of the Month. Hector Neris – 11 appearances in 21 games, and he was great in both ERA (0.87) and WHIP (0.677) and did not allow the one inherited runner he had to score. One wonders why he was not made the 9th inning option with Pressly out, but it does not matter.
Runner-up. Rafael Montero – While slightly wilder than Neris, he has been equally effective in leveraged situations with a 0.96 ERA/0.94 WHIP, a save and not allowing his two inherited runners to score.
Special Recognition Award. Cristian Javier – While continuing his role as a swingman, he started once, was relieved three times and was just plain terrific as both his 1.35 ERA and his slash against (.196 BA/ .275 OBP/ .557 OPS).
Positional Player of the Month. Yordan Alvarez – He had the 7th most at bats on the team after his Covid scare, but he still was terrifically effective with 12 runs scored, 6 HRs, 12 RBIS and a huge .994 OPS.
Runner-up. Alex Bregman – His .233 BA was nothing to write home about, but his 12 runs scored paired with 13 RBIs and his even steven 14 walks and 14 Ks spoke well about a good month for the third baseman.
Special Recognition Award (Part 2). Jeremy Pena – For the most anticipated new comer of the year, Pena played like he belonged and what else could you ask for? First in runs scored, tied for second in HRs, fourth in RBIs – he had a very solid first month of his career.
Biggest Surprise (Positive). Rafael Montero – The guy has never really pitched this good and frankly has pitched poorly to average for the majority of his career.
Runner-up. Pena – I would have been happy with like 2 dingers and 6 RBIs in his first 20 games, but he has been better than that and on top of it has come through in a number of clutch spots including his walk-off bomb a couple weeks ago.
Biggest Disappointment. We will skip the runner-up – let’s just give a split trophy to Jose Altuve, Yuli Gurriel and the two-headed non-monster of Martin Maldonado and Jason Castro.
Crazy Stats…..There are a number of them:
- When major league hitters put the ball in play (don’t strike out) – they normally average about a .300 average on those balls. Falling way under that often shows a player who is connecting, but not hitting in luck. For the month of April the team as a whole was next to last in the majors with a .249 BABIP. This was despite being 7th in the majors with a hard hit % of 41.8% (balls hit at 95 mph or more). This included a number of players hitting in lack of luck – Altuve (.200 BABIP), Kyle Tucker (.228), Alvarez (.233), and Bregman (.232). Castro and Maldonado have hard to believe .100 and .115 BABIPs. If luck evens out there should be some changes by the end of May.
- Yuli Gurriel led the team with 9 doubles in April, but only had 9 other hits (singles) for the month.
- Jose Altuve missed quite a bit of time, but still, as the leadoff hitter he only scored two runs for the month and one of those was on his own home run.
- Maldonado only had 4 hits on the month, but scored 7 runs thanks to 8 base on balls (and probably a few force outs). The question has to be – how can you walk a guy hitting .095 that many times.
- As a friend of the blog uncleknuckle (DaveB) pointed out, Yuli, who built his great 2021 on a more patient approach, only had 3 walks the whole month.
- Both Chas McCormick (18.7% K rate) and Yordan Alvarez (16% K) improved their strikeout rates to much better levels than in 2021.
As usual, it is your turn to comment. Any awards you disagree with? Any new ones you want to award?