The Numbers of April: Surprise!

Hot starts don’t necessarily dictate the results of May through October, because that’s only one month of baseball done, and even one month’s worth of goodies is a small sample size of information. Still, it’s not like it’s not fun to look at some of the numbers that were a little unexpected.

Win and Losses Division

The AL East really was, and still is anybody’s division to win, and so maybe Boston’s 18-8 record — and the best in baseball — shouldn’t be that much of a surprise. What is the bigger surprise can be found at the bottom of the division where the Toronto Blue Jays reside at 10-17. There are three teams with a worse record than that, two won’t surprise you, one may: Astros, Marlins, Angels.

Another unexpected positive performance has come from the NL West leading Colorado Rockies, and second place Kansas City are only a half game back of the 2012 AL Champs. Different league, but still the Central, the top four teams in the NLC are all within one game of each other.

Position Players Division

Surprising that Justin Upton has 12 homers? Probably not. Surprising that New York Mets catcher John Buck is tied for second with 9? Very! We always knew Chris Davis had power, just wondered if his contact rate would get in the way. You expected him to have more of a slash line like Anthony Rizzo than one like Bryce Harper.

This may not surprise you, but I did not think Carl Crawford would have as solid of an April as he’s had. 1.3 fWAR with a .390 wOBA, including 4 HR and SB. You do that every month and that gets you MVP votes.

Players in the bottom 15 of fWAR include players like Melky Cabrera (0 HR), Matt Kemp (84 wRC+), and Josh Hamilton (51 wRC+). I’m sure Melky’s place there doesn’t surprise the PED skeptics, but bottom 15 bad?

Starting Pitchers Division

Continuing with the bottom, it surprises me that two of the bottom seven fWAR performances belong to starters on the Giants staff, and neither of them are Barry Zito (Matt Cain, and Ryan Vogelsong). Brandon McCarthy may sport a horrible 7.48 ERA, but his 3.67 FIP is better than league average, and that 3.82 residual is pretty astounding for anybody.

Your leader in complete games with two is Jordan Zimmermann. He and seven others, including Bartolo Colon, have a complete game shutout to their name in the 2013 season.

The 4th highest K% at 32.9% is A.J. Burnett. The 8th highest at 30.3% is Hyun-jin Ryu, higher than teammate Clayton Kershaw.

In a shocking development, Stephen Strasburg and Jeff Samardzija‘s 1-4 W-L record may not tell you that they’ve actually done quite alright for their team, it’s just, you know, that whole run support thing.

Two Cardinals starters have not allowed a homer this year: Adam Wainwright and Jake Westbrook. Wainwright allowed 15, and Westbrook allowed 12 in 2012.

Relievers Division

Sergio Romo, Jason Grilli, Mariano Rivera, and Jim Johnson may have ten saves, but your leader for relievers in fWAR is James Russell of the Cubs and Craig Kimbrel, Matt Belisle, and four others at 0.6.

Speaking of Sergio, no “closer” has been brought into more games than him. 15. Brad Ziegler leads in appearances with 17. That’s a pretty healthy dose of usage early on.

I know John Axford was on the decline, but that 8 ERA and 7 FIP are more of a fall from grace than just a “decline.”

Carlos Marmol does not have the highest walk rate amongst all relievers. Henry Rodriguez (Nationals) and Nick Hagadone (Indians) beat Marmol out this month.

If you added Brandon League and Huston Street‘s K% (I know it doesn’t work like that, but work with me here), it would be 20.0%. Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Bailey, and Greg Holland would still have more than double that K%.

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So there are some of your surprises from this month, definitely varying on the spectrum of surprisability, but those are some of the things that got my attention. What surprised you this month?

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