April 2019 Ends

Photo by Uppercutmagazine.com

In Baseball’s First Month the Dust Settles for April 2019


By Uppercut staff

A month into the 2019 season the dust has settled with a few teams separating from the rest. Still, a snowstorm in Chicago signals that it’s too early to determine which teams are real and which are facades.

“Wait until the heat of summer begins” should be the mantra for baseball season. Pennant races are won during the warmer temperatures when batters get their cold weather bugs shaken off and pitchers lose their advantage.

Seattle emerged as baseball’s biggest surprise especially after unloading several of their best players Robinson Cano, Edwin Diaz, Jean Segura and James Paxton. Instead of struggling the Mariners remain the leader in the American League with 17 wins and a half game lead over the Houston Astros.

The American League continues to be on equal footing with all three divisions in close races with little separation. Expected domination by the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox has not appeared as both failed to come out of the chute on solid footing. Instead parity reigns supreme in all three divisions.

Tampa Bay defies predictions from experts and continues to lead the A.L. Eastern Division with a roster comprised of strong pitching and a hitting attack that lacks big names but displays solid hitting with names like Tommy Pham, Ji-Man Choi and Austin Meadows who is currently on the 10-day Injured List but is hitting .351 with six homers and a 1.097 OPS.

Boston kept its toe in the pool when they swept Tampa Bay last week but this past weekend Tampa Bay jumped on David Price in Boston for a 2-1 victory at Fenway.

No Lindor

In the AL Central Division the Minnesota Twins are taking advantage of the slow start by Cleveland whose pitching remains strong but hitting seems to have lost its footing despite the return of Carlos Santana. The Indian’s best hitter Jose Ramirez seems to be suffering from the cold weather without Francisco Lindor in the lineup to ignite the team.

The Twins now have Nelson Cruz in the center of the lineup and he’s doing what he always does crank homers and circle the bases. His partner in crime Edwin Rosario busted out 11 homers so far and 24 RBIs to go with it. It’s too early in the season but Minnesota pitching behind Jose Berrios has got early traction to keep up with Cleveland.


One player to note early in the season is Tim Anderson of the Chicago White Sox has been showing off his hitting prowess throughout the month of April. He leads the AL with a .402 batting average so far and leads with 10 stolen bases. He was recently suspended, perhaps unfairly, when he was hit in the back by an opposing pitcher for hitting a homer and flipping his bat with gusto. After the assault by the pitcher, Anderson took a step toward the pitcher and players rushed out of both dugouts. This past Friday, Anderson belted a walk-off homer against Detroit and flipped his bat with gusto again. He’s on fire in April.  


NL Leaders

The big story in the National League seems to be the battle between sluggers Cody Bellinger of the L.A. Dodgers and Christian Yelich of the Milwaukee Brewers. Cold weather or not the two are hitting like its mid-July with Yelich leading the Majors with 14 homers and Bellinger hitting at a .433 clip.

Yelich won the N.L. Most Valuable Player last season and seems determined to do it again. However, on Saturday the right fielder left the game with a back injury described as muscle spasms. It could be due to the cold front that snowed both Milwaukee and Chicago.

Bellinger has the heat of Los Angeles to keep him warm as he continues to batter pitching in both leagues. The slender left-handed hitter also is one of the leaders in stolen bases and considered one of the fastest players in the Major Leagues.

The Los Angeles Dodgers lead the N.L. with 18 wins for the month of April and do it with a pitching staff that saw Clayton Kershaw finally pick up his first win of 2019, yet the team remains in first place. Pitching remains a strength and will be bolstered with the return of southpaw hurler Rich Hill. That’s one deep pitching staff.

One of the weaker spots for the Dodgers seems to be the bullpen where its free agent signee Joe Kelly has yet to find his footing. But it’s too early to dismiss his 100 mph fastball that helped Boston defeat the Dodgers in the World Series last year. Kelly was always a Dodger killer as a pitcher for St. Louis too. If he gets untracked, watch out.


St. Louis

The Cardinals behind a solid hitting attack and strong pitching lead the very strong NL Central Division. Milwaukee continues to have a very powerful offense behind Yelich but its starting rotation just can’t compete with St. Louis so far.

It’s easy to say free agent signee Paul Goldschmidt and his nine homers and 23 RBIs are the reason behind the surge, but that would be overlooking the contributions of outfielder Jose Martinez. The 30-year-old right-handed slugger is batting .328 and probably even better in clutch situations.

The Cardinal bullpen has one very big gun. Stopping opposition with a 104 MPH heater remains Jordan Hicks who at 22 years old has eight saves in eight attempts. Hitters haven’t been able to catch up to his fastball and the Texas hurler has 14 strikeouts in 11 innings.

In the NL Eastern Division the Philadelphia Phillies continue to lead but have the Mets, Braves, and Nationals tailing them by only a few games. It’s a wide open division and will probably see different leaders throughout the season. April is over.