New this season, we’re introducing Hitter and Pitcher of the Month for both leagues. The way this works is each participate pick 3 hitters and pitchers from each league. Their first pick gets 3 points, second gets 2, and last get 1. The winner is the player with the most points (maximum of 12 points this month).
For the first installment, we have Daniels, CJ, my buddy Justin, and myself as the voters.
AL Hitter of the Month:
1. Josh Hamilton, OF, Rangers – 6 points
Eugene: He finished the month in the top 10 of average, homers and RBIs. This coming from a guy in his second season in the Majors.
2. Manny Ramirez, OF, Red Sox – 4 points
Eugene: Manny wants a new contract and is playing like he did 5-6 years ago.
3. Torii Hunter, OF, Angels – 3
Eugene: This was CJ’s pick, but I can see why (other than he’s still a fan of the guy from his Twins days). He’s not standing out in one area, but the guy is one of the most well rounded players in the game (he’s having above average seasons in almost all offensive categories).
Others receiving votes: Evan Longoria, Casey Kotchman, Carlos Quentin, Joe Mauer.
NL Hitter of the Month:
1. Chase Utley, 2B, Phillies – 11 points
Daniels: Speaking of guys who are single-handedly carrying their team and keeping them alive… Utley .369(!) batting average and 1.227 OPS was the only thing keeping the Phillies from having another hugely disappointing start this year. Between him and Pat Burrel, they’re completely masking Ryan Howard’s pitiful start.
Eugene: This was easy, as you can tell by the score. The guys is a beast. By far the best second baseman in the game (possibly the best infielder this year too).
2. Chipper Jones, 3B, Braves – 4 points
Eugene: Larry Wayne is on the quest for .400 and he’s going about it in grand style. His 1.171 OPS in April is keeping the Braves in the East (and he’s responsible for the positive run differential).
3. Nate McLouth, OF, Pirates – 3 points
Daniels: Can you really even argue this? He’s been powering the Pirates (THE PIRATES!) line-up into a fourth in the National League 4.97 runs per game. His OPS is over 1. He’s 5 off the National League lead for RBI hitting lead-off. He’s pushed Xavier Nady to lead the NL in RBI. He saves babies from burning buildings. He is single-handedly keeping my office fantasy team out of last place (cheers to Shane Victorino for getting hurt). Is there anything he can’t do? The answer: pitch. Pirate staff ERA is 5.87.
3. Albert Pujols, 1B, Cardinals – 3 points
Eugene: He’s not getting pitched to and he’s still hit 6 home runs. The .523 OBP is very Bonds-like.
Others receiving votes: Rafael Furcal, Micah Owings, Ryan Church.
AL Pitcher of the Month:
1. Cliff Lee, Indians – 10 points
Daniels: 5 starts, 37.7 IP, 32K/2BB, and 4 ER. His WHIP Is 0.558. Come on. At the moment, it borders on unfair.
2. Ervin Santana, Angels – 4 points
Eugene: This guy couldn’t buy a win last year, and now he already has 5 in 6 starts. His K/9 is a little low, but his WHIP is staying down (.98 in April).
3. Mariano Rivera, Yankees – 3 points
Daniels: Reports of Mo’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. One of the questions in our pre-season roundtable was “How long until ESPN runs their annual ‘Has Rivera Lost It’ story.” He has yet to give them a reason. In 11 appearances/12 innings pitched, he’s given up 4 hits, walked no one, struck out 12, saved 8, and allowed ZERO runs. He still has no ERA+ BECAUSE HE STILL HAS NO ERA. This has been even more delicious coupled with the utter collapse of Trevor Hoffman.
Others receiving votes: Joe Nathan, Felix Hernandez, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Nick Blackburn.
NL Pitcher of the Month:
1. Brandon Webb, Diamondbacks – 8 points
Daniels: As loathe as I am to ever include wins in argument, it works in this case. He’s 7-0 through 7 starts and has given up 4 runs or less in each start. He’s averaged 6.7 IP/start. Apparently all this talk of shipping the Cy Young directly to Queens annoyed him a little.
2. Tim Lincecum, Giants – 5 points
Eugene: This kid is sick. In his one loss, he gave up 3 runs and got no support. He’ll need to get used to that in San Francisco. He’s pretty much the opposite of McLouth.
3. Jake Peavy, Padres – 3 points
Eugene: See Lincecum. He’s having a great season, but can’t get the run support. There is no reason a pitcher with a 2.50 ERA and 1.03 WHIP should only be 2-1, unless they are a reliever.
Others receiving votes: Johan Santana, John Smoltz, Brandon Lyons.
We’ll be back next month with more players of the month.