bryan-reynolds-2-1400.jpg

Can we just get a do-over for April? Sure, Yermin Mercedes wouldn't be too thrilled about it, but most every other hitter would probably get on board.

The further we distance ourselves from that wretched first month, the more it looks like an aberration.

That wasn't the thinking at the time. You may recall some hand-wringing over the recently deadened baseballs and what appeared to be our new reality. Batted balls weren't traveling as far. Breaking balls were becoming bendier. Offense was in the tank.

  • We talk Jake Odorizzi, some struggling starting pitchers plus Tony Kemp, Jacob deGrom and Adalberto Mondesi on the Fantasy Baseball Today in 5 podcast. You can follow us to get the latest episodes on AppleSpotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

Turns out unseasonably cold temperatures may have been mostly to blame. As the weather normalized in May, so did the offensive environment, and the trend has continued here in June. In fact, MLB's decision to crack down on pitchers' use foreign substances has seemingly sent offense into overdrive.

Here's the breakdown:

 

AVG

BABIP

K%

HR/9

April

.229

.281

24.4

1.17

May

.236

.290

24.0

1.15

June

.244

.293

23.3

1.31

It's normal for offense to pick up midseason, but comparing June to April, you'd think they started playing baseball on the moon. And it may only be the beginning. Those reports about the foreign substance crackdown first came around the start of June, and we did see certain pitchers' spin rates dip almost immediately. But Monday marked the first day of umpires proactively checking for foreign substances, which will perhaps lead to even more pitchers shying away from them.

But that's a different subject for a different day. For now, let's look at some of the hitters who've improved the most since the end of April and consider whether that first month should be discarded altogether. 

HOU Houston • #27 • Age: 31
April AVG
.273
AVG since
.304
April OPS
.679
OPS since
.955
He's gone from being on Fantasy life support after a disastrous 2020 to the preeminent second baseman again.
TOR Toronto • #8 • Age: 26
April AVG
.197
AVG since
.250
April OPS
.641
OPS since
.791
He was identified early on as a player who could suffer from the deadened baseballs, making the confirmation bias in April difficult to avoid. Slowly but surely, though, his numbers are coming around.
COL Colorado • #19 • Age: 35
April AVG
.184
AVG since
.311
April OPS
.606
OPS since
.827
The power may not be coming back at age 34, but he's not a lost cause yet. What's most amazing is the way his home numbers still lag behind his road numbers given how much time the Rockies spent at Coors Field in April.
SF San Francisco • #35 • Age: 34
April AVG
.205
AVG since
.273
April OPS
.663
OPS since
.985
The 34-year-old has been among the top shortstop performers for so long that it's hard to remember he wasn't on anybody's radar yet one month into the season.
STL St. Louis • #46 • Age: 33
April AVG
.214
AVG since
.287
April OPS
.597
OPS since
.838
His full-season numbers still give the appearance he's lost it, but he's actually outperformed Yuli Gurriel and Freddie Freeman in points leagues since the start of May.
CLE Cleveland • #7 • Age: 31
April AVG
.176
AVG since
.240
April OPS
.527
OPS since
.784
The power production is sustaining him for now, but the expected stats (not to mention the track record) suggest there's even more ground to make up in batting average.
CIN Cincinnati • #6 • Age: 24
April AVG
.239
AVG since
.268
April OPS
.675
OPS since
.831
Once a spring training riser gone sour, he's enjoying a second round of waiver wire attention now that he's fulfilling his promise with a .400 on-base percentage since May 1.
LAD L.A. Dodgers • #9 • Age: 23
April AVG
.179
AVG since
.271
April OPS
.463
OPS since
.789
The power production still leaves something be desired, but the former top prospect hasn't been overmatched to the degree his full-season numbers would have you believe.
PHI Philadelphia • #22 • Age: 34
April AVG
.169
AVG since
.259
April OPS
.548
OPS since
.903
His season-long batting average is still lagging thanks to the rocky start, but would you believe the 34-year-old has been the 18th-best outfielder in points leagues since the start of May?
BAL Baltimore • #6 • Age: 24
April AVG
.198
AVG since
.300
April OPS
.515
OPS since
.903
Interestingly, his strikeout rate, which was 31.3 percent after the first month, is a not-much-better 30.4 percent since then, which leaves me skeptical of his overall outlook still.
ATL Atlanta • #22 • Age: 29
April AVG
.137
AVG since
.284
April OPS
.498
OPS since
.866
It's possible his full-season numbers have normalized now, him being a streaky player and all, but he has certainly reaffirmed his value.
SD San Diego • #28 • Age: 33
April AVG
.179
AVG since
.290
April OPS
.503
OPS since
.902
There may not be a single player who has done more to redeem his value since the end of April than Tommy Pham, who has also stolen nine bases during that time.
MIN Minnesota • #11 • Age: 28
April AVG
.207
AVG since
.276
April OPS
.555
OPS since
.864
There have been further complaints about the ankle injury that wrecked his 2020 season, but at least now we know he can perform in spite of it.
PIT Pittsburgh • #10 • Age: 26
April AVG
,278
AVG since
.312
April OPS
.792
OPS since
.999
Is it possible he's even better than when he hit .314 with an .880 OPS as a rookie two years ago? His BABIP during this stretch is actually lower.
NYY N.Y. Yankees • #24 • Age: 28
April AVG
.190
AVG since
.261
April OPS
.639
OPS since
.911
Even the Yankees began to lose faith toward the end of April, fading him in favor of backup Kyle Higashioka, but the deeper we go into 2021, the more his awful 2020 looks like the outlier.
DET Detroit • #7 • Age: 29
April AVG
.185
AVG since
.309
April OPS
.490
OPS since
.930
He's been so hot in June that it's possible his perceived value is now higher than his actual value, but it's worth the reminder he was dead in the water in April.
WAS Washington • #12 • Age: 28
April AVG
.206
AVG since
.255
April OPS
.619
OPS since
.929
With a .241 batting aveage and .843 OPS overall, he has normalized into what he was in 2019, which also happens to be the best version of Kyle Schwarber we've seen so far.
TOR Toronto • #10 • Age: 30
April AVG
.210
AVG since
.319
April OPS
.658
OPS since
.989
I remember thinking he was a sell-high candidate after the first month because, despite the bad ratios, he had five home runs and six stolen bases. Silly me!
ATL Atlanta • #7 • Age: 27
April AVG
.190
AVG since
.260
April OPS
.583
OPS since
.805
Basically across the board, he's gone back to doing what he did during his breakout 2020, with even his strikeout rate dropping from nearly 30 percent that first month to 26.7 percent since.
HOU Houston • #30 • Age: 24
April AVG
.181
AVG since
.324
April OPS
.610
OPS since
.977
You wouldn't believe how much he's improved as a hitter this year ... mainly because his April numbers are still weighing down the rest of them.