Remember last season when Matt Kemp hit 12 home runs before May?
A strong April doesn’t guarantee a record-breaking season, but there isn’t a Major League Baseball team that doesn’t want its top hitters starting the year on a hot note.
Every once in a while, a ridiculous April lead to some interesting conversations. We travel back to a little over a year ago when Matt Kemp of the Los Angeles Dodgers put together one of the most spectacular months of all-time. In 84 at-bats, the center field hit .417/.490/.893 with 12 home runs and 25 RBI.
But it was still extremely exciting to watch Kemp hit for that short period of time, even if he didn’t produce like he did in April all year long and the Dodgers actually missed the postseason.
April production should be taken lightly and is no means a precursor of what’s to come for the remaining months of season. That being said, we can still predict who is going to have a big month and who might start off slow. Here are the stat-line predictions for the best hitters in the game.
2012 April Stats: .267/.323/.389, 1 HR, 4 RBI
Robinson Cano didn’t really get going until after April last year, but still put together another strong season. Cano finished his eighth season with the New York Yankees with career highs in home runs and RBI by the time the season came to a close.
This season, Cano will be playing a larger role because several of his teammates are out with injuries. This should be motivation to start hitting with more power more often and doing his best to win games. Playing for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic, Cano was one of the tournament’s top hitters. There’s no reason he can’t carry that over to the regular season.
Predicted 2013 April Stats: .288/.348/.420, 3 HR, 14 RBI
2012 April Stats: .329/.433/.561, 4 HR, 19 RBI
Evan Longoria got off to a blazing start last season, destroying pitches thrown to him. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to stay healthy the entire year or he absolutely would’ve been in MVP contention. He had about as good as a 74-game season gets, but there’s no question he could’ve done more should he have been able to stay healthy.
The Tampa Bay Rays need Longoria to match his April from a year ago. Each game within the AL East is more important than ever with so much parity and the Rays can’t afford to get behind early. Longoria keeps them in contention, and there’s a good chance that if he fails, they fail. The third baseman needs to put the team on his back in 2013.
Predicted 2013 April Stats: .312/.411/.532, 4 HR, 17 RBI
2012 April Stats: .220/.293/.341, 0 HR, 3 RBI
It’s tough to have a great start to the season if you play for the Miami Marlins, no matter who you are or what your resume looks like. Jose Reyes is no exception.
Reyes, one of the game’s best hitters, got off to a terrible start last season, which ended up being his first and last with Miami. Traded over the offseason, Reyes now has a clean slate with a better club.
Reyes is going to be a big part of the Toronto Blue Jays this season, hitting atop their lineup and potentially scoring runs in bunches. The key for him will be getting on base so that those behind him can drive him in time after time. Reyes put together a nice run at the World Baseball Classic, and after helping the Dominican Republic winning the tournament, his confidence should be through the roof.
Predicted 2013 April Stats: .301/.401/.467, 1 HR, 7 RBI
2012 April Stats: .181/.320/.313, 3 HR, 10 RBI
For whatever reason, Jose Bautista was a non-factor for the Toronto Blue Jays in April of last season. He barely ever got a hit, and the only reason his batting line is readable is because he drew a ton of walks. He was still able to get a hold of a few pitches that he drove out of the park, but for the most part, Bautista had a terrible April.
Bautista didn’t have the best season overall, but that was mainly because he missed a considerable amount of time due to injury. This season, healthy and joined by some very talented teammates, Bautista is primed for a strong start. The hype is all about how good Toronto will be this season. In April, Bautista will show why.
Predicted 2013 April Stats: .314/.555/.543, 5 HR, 13 RBI
2012 April Stats: .309/.387/.444, 3 HR, 11 RBI
Prince Fielder got off to a fantastic start with his new team, the Detroit Tigers, last season. The first baseman looked to be in midseason form by the time the year really got started and he was already looking like a good investment.
Fielder actually got better as the summer went on, and even though he didn’t come close to topping Miguel Cabrera’s stat line, he had a good first year with the Tigers.
Fielder’s second year in Detroit should be an interesting. He’ll have Victor Martinez, who missed all of last year due to injury, hitting behind him for the first year. That should affect the types of pitches that Fielder sees despite hitting behind Cabrera. Fielder will have to adjust and stay smart at the plate in order to produce.
Predicted 2013 April Stats: .291/.364/.418, 4 HR, 11 RBI
2012 April Stats: .298/.368/.571, 7 HR, 20 RBI
We all know what Miguel Cabrera is capable of. He’s arguably the best offensive player in baseball, and after winning the AL MVP and the Triple Crown last season, there shouldn’t be anyone doubting him going forward. He’s an unreal talent. He wouldn’t have been able to win either award if it weren’t for a good start, though.
Although Cabrera didn’t start hitting for much consistency until after April, he was still slugging like he was in midseason form.
This year, expect around the same amount of production. Pitchers know what they’re getting themselves into by giving him pitches to hit, but he’ll still make them pay no matter where it’s located. Cabrera might not win the MVP or Triple Crown again in 2013, but he could certainly still have a positive start.
Predicted 2013 April Stats: .300/.370/.575, 4 HR, 17 RBI
2012 April Stats: .091/.167/.182, 0 HR, 0 RBI
Wow, Mike Trout was terrible last April!
No, no he wasn’t.
Trout made his 2012 debut on April 28 and only managed to get into a trio of games during baseball’s opening month. His April numbers mean essentially nothing. He was still able to get going fairly quickly and he looked like he had been in the majors for several years the way he was hitting.
So what will Trout’s first full April look like? It will probably look a lot like last year as a whole, only broken down into one month. The sophomore slump isn’t a phrase that will be associated with Trout and he’ll prove to any naysayers that he’s the real deal. He might not have the best April of anyone on this list, but it will definitely be a good one.
Predicted 2013 April Stats: .342/.628/.684, 4 HR, 16 RBI
2012 April Stats: .395/.438/.744, 9 HR, 25 RBI
In 2012, Josh Hamilton probably had one of the better Aprils that we’ve seen in a long time. He was absolutely crushing pitch after pitch and it didn’t appear that any pitcher was going to be able to stop him. Even though his torrid run eventually came to an end, it was still rather impressive what he accomplished over a short period of time. Some batters don’t hit nine home runs in a year, much less a month.
So how will Hamilton follow up that performance? Well, he’s with a brand-new team in the Los Angeles Angels and now hits right near Mike Trout and Albert Pujols, two of the best hitters in baseball. That should help his chances to match his 2012 numbers, but that’s still going to be very difficult. He’ll probably still hit very well this April, but not nearly as good as he did a year ago.
Predicted 2013 April Stats: .364/.404/.686, 5 HR, 16 RBI
2012 April Stats: .217/.265/.304, 0 HR, 4 RBI
After signing with the Los Angeles Angels over the offseason, Albert Pujols started his career with the Halos on the wrong foot. He was horrible to start the 2012 season and didn’t look like the fierce power hitter that destroyed NL pitching prior to inking a new deal.
Although Pujols eventually found his stroke at the plate, he still wasn’t nearly as good as he had been in years past. Pujols didn’t, however, have Mike Trout at the lineup much and Josh Hamilton hitting around him. Those two weapons are now in the lineup and will improve Pujols’ production for sure. He can easily make last season look like a fluke with a strong start to 2013.
Predicted 2013 April Stats: .303/.370/.424, 4 HR, 12 RBI
2012 April Stats: .321/.356/.543, 4 HR, 13 RBI
Adrian Beltre is widely considered a dangerous hitter in this day and age, even if he finishes his swing on one knee from time-to-time. Although he wasn’t a very consistent hitter last April, he got the job done by hitting home runs and driving runners home.
Beltre finished the year on a strong note, encapsulating another good year for the Texas Rangers third baseman. He now plays a much bigger role in the heart of the lineup after many big bats have left through free agency and trades.
Beltre is the guy that pitchers will have the most headaches with. But will the headaches start early in the year?
Predicted 2013 April Stats: .310/.344/.524, 5 HR, 16 RBI
2012 April Stats: .244/.326/.436, 4 HR, 17 RBI
At the beginning of last season, Yoenis Cespedes was still getting acclimated to Major League Baseball. After signing a contract with the Oakland Athletics over the offseason, no one knew what to expect out of him. He showed a positive outlook for the future even though he didn't have the strongest performance.
The rest of Cespedes’ rookie season was impressive, finishing second in the AL Rookie of the Year Award voting to Mike Trout. With a year under his belt, Cespedes should be ready to take the rest of the league by storm in 2013. Don’t expect a sophomore slump for this slugger, but instead, a reason to think he’ll be in the MVP conversation later in the year.
Predicted 2013 April Stats: .277/.369/.529, 4 HR, 17 RBI
2012 April Stats: .242/.354/.379, 2 HR, 5 RBI
Justin Upton didn’t get off to the start that he and the Arizona Diamondbacks wanted last season. Although he had a good year overall, his April numbers were a little underwhelming. For general manager Kevin Towers, it was probably just more fuel to trade the star outfielder the next chance he got. That chance came this offseason.
Now a member of the Atlanta Braves, Upton has the ability to get off to a strong start with a good team that believes in him. Hitting alongside his brother, B.J., and a couple of other talented hitters, there’s no reason why Upton won’t succeed with the Braves. He is a rare talent that just needed a little push to get going. Towers pushed him, and now Upton will show him why he never should’ve traded him.
Predicted 2013 April Stats: .331/.484/.518, 4 HR, 11 RBI
2012 April Stats: .273/.341/.442, 2 HR, 9 RBI
Jason Heyward is quickly turning into one of the better hitters in baseball because of his ability to hit, field and run well. Last year was easily the best of his three years with the Atlanta Braves, and some of the credit should be given to the way he started the season. In the two years prior, Heyward got off to hot starts with his power. Last year, it was with his consistency.
Entering 2013, expect big things early for the young right fielder. He now hits in the heart of a very dangerous lineup and has plenty of protection. Heyward has the potential to do crazy things in the right situations, and there’s a good chance those situations arise more often than not to start the year. He’ll have plenty of opportunities to produce for the Braves.
Predicted 2013 April Stats: .317/.396/.513, 5 HR, 14 RBI
2012 April Stats: .247/.286/.342, 1 HR, 9 RBI
Giancarlo Stanton put together arguably his best season in the big leagues last season, but it didn’t have much to do with how he started the year. Despite finishing 2012 hitting .290/.361/.608 with 37 home runs and 86 RBI, not much of that is shown through his April numbers. Stanton showed that he doesn’t need to start strong in order to finish strong.
But this year is a completely different story. Stanton has no protection in the Miami Marlins lineup whatsoever, and if pitchers are smart, they’ll stay away from him. He had a bit of a pedestrian run in the World Baseball Classic, but overall, has the skill to have a big April. He just needs to see some pitches he can put into play and he should be just fine.
Predicted 2013 April Stats: .286/.341/.442, 2 HR, 9 RBI
2012 April Stats: .389/.494/.569, 3 HR, 14 RBI
David Wright is the heart and soul of the New York Mets. If he wasn’t, they probably wouldn’t have named him their captain. Wright has put together MVP-caliber seasons even when the Mets were in the cellar of the NL East. He’s easily the best player on the team and it’s not even close.
Wright had a great season in 2012, partly because he got off to a hot start. He was hitting very well off of nearly every pitcher he faced, and his statistics definitely show that. Wright had a fantastic run with Team USA in the World Baseball Classic before getting hurt, but has healed since and should start 2013 with a bang. He doesn’t have much protection in the lineup, though, which could lead to some reduced numbers.
Predicted 2013 April Stats: .313/.397/.458, 2 HR, 15 RBI
2012 April Stats: .333/.375/.500, 0 HR, 1 RBI
This time last season, the hype surrounding Bryce Harper was just getting started. He didn’t make his Major League debut until April 28 and he only played in a pair of April games. Even still, he had an extremely good start to his young career, taking home the NL Rookie of the Year Award at the end of the season.
To start this year, Harper seems to have picked up right where he left off. He had a miraculous spring training and the Washington Nationals left fielder slugged two home runs on Opening Day against the Miami Marlins.
To say that he’s ready to take the rest of the league by storm is a massive understatement. This kid is here and he’s here to make a major impact.
Predicted 2013 April Stats: .395/.445/.593, 7 HR, 22 RBI
2012 April Stats: .294/.347/.647, 7 HR, 17 RBI
Ryan Braun may have had a good April and a good 2012 season overall, but digging into his stats from last year’s first month of play, some concerns could’ve been brought up. The biggest thing that stands out is that although he was hitting for consistency and power, he was retired mainly via strikeout. He struck out 26 percent of the time last April.
Braun has a little less protection in the Milwaukee Brewers lineup this April due to a couple of injuries, which means that he has to be more selective. Pitchers won’t necessarily be throwing him pitches down the pipe so he needs to be careful. There’s a good chance that although his power numbers might be there, he strikes out even more often this April.
Predicted 2013 April Stats: .302/.356/.665, 5 HR, 16 RBI
2012 April Stats: .215/.277/.376, 4 HR, 13 RBI
The St. Louis Cardinals may have had a good 2012 that got them into the postseason, but it wasn’t because Matt Holliday carried them the entire year. Sure, he had a solid year that reflects many of his career averages, but Holliday was bad early on in the season. He wasn’t walking very much, he was striking out a ton and he also struggled to get many hits.
Yes, Holliday did hit four home runs, but it’s not all about homers. This year, Holliday needs to be swinging at better pitches and know when to lay off of the bad ones. The Cardinals have a lot of competition in the NL Central and a poor start could lead to a poor season. Holliday is one of the bigger bats in the St. Louis lineup, and the team desperately needs him to get hot quickly.
Predicted 2013 April Stats: .267/.344/.467, 4 HR, 12 RBI
2012 April Stats: .256/.376/.462, 5 HR, 11 RBI
Carlos Beltran has been a relatively consistent hitter throughout the course of his career, so a slow April in 2012 was somewhat concerning. Although he did crank five long balls and drove in 11 runs, his batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage were all fairly low compared to his career averages. But the slump eventually subsided.
Beltran finished the year with a lower batting line than in years past, but still slugged 32 home runs and nearly hit the 100-RBI plateau. This spring, he’s also played in some big games during the World Baseball Classic and he should be ready to get started early.
If Beltran wants to put together another strong season, he needs to hit well in April. The numbers to even things out might not come later in the year.
Predicted 2013 April Stats: .286/.420/.516, 4 HR, 12 RBI
2012 April Stats: .289/.439/.500, 2 HR, 15 RBI
Joey Votto doesn’t need to have a hot April to have a great season, but it certainly doesn’t hurt. In 2011, he was on fire through the first month of the regular season and stayed hot throughout the year to put together the best campaign of his young career. Last season, he was good, but not nearly as good as he was in 2011.
Votto didn’t hit too well for Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic, but getting to see some live pitching should’ve helped his transition from spring training to the regular season.
The Cincinnati Reds have an improved lineup that still features their coveted first baseman at the core. If Votto starts to hit like he’s in midseason form, the NL better watch out.
Predicted 2013 April Stats: .302/.459/.522, 3 HR, 15 RBI
2012 April Stats: .302/.351/.372, 0 HR, 7 RBI
Andrew McCutchen just keeps on getting better and better with every year of experience. Last season, he had a great April and managed to keep his hot bat going throughout most of the season, ending 2012 with another impressive campaign. He raised his personal bar in many ways and is setting the standard for future center fielders.
One thing that McCutchen didn’t flash at the start of last season was his ability to hit for power. The Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder didn’t hit one home run in April, but finished the year with a career-high 31.
In 2013, expect to see some balls leave the park off his bat. He could potentially end this year with an even higher mark. Who knows; maybe he’ll hit 40?
Predicted 2013 April Stats: .318/.370/.392, 4 HR, 15 RBI
2012 April Stats: .271/.337/.400, 2 HR, 15 RBI
The start of the Bobby Valentine era with the Boston Red Sox was also about the time where Adrian Gonzalez forgot how to hit with consistency and power. He didn’t hit very well at all to start 2012 and really never was able to get into a groove at all during the season.
But this year is different. Gonzalez is starting his first full season as a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers, a team with a stacked offense that he’s sure to benefit from. Hitting in the heart of the order and being protected by Matt Kemp, there’s no reason why Gonzalez can’t have his name in the MVP conversation at season’s end. If anything, he’ll start the year off better than he did a year ago.
Predicted 2013 April Stats: .289/.359/.427, 4 HR, 17 RBI
2012 April Stats: .417/.490/.893, 12 HR, 25 RBI
You literally couldn’t make up the numbers that Matt Kemp produced last April. They’re straight up video game numbers that you will rarely see in real life. But somehow, some way, he made it all happen. Hitting 12 home runs in any month is ridiculous, but to do so the first month of the year speaks to how crazy of a month it was for the Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder.
The chances of Kemp repeating his insane April from a year ago are extremely slim. If he manages to do it, then I’m not sure what to think anymore. Using logic, one would assume he won’t repeat. However, he can still have a great month. Kemp hits alongside of a lot of talented hitters and is more than capable of putting up eye-appealing numbers. Maybe just not as eye-appealing as in 2012.
Predicted 2013 April Stats: .329/.387/.705, 6 HR, 18 RBI
2012 April Stats: .282/.340/.459, 3 HR, 13 RBI
If Troy Tulowitzki could’ve stayed healthy, he probably would’ve had a very good year. Although the Colorado Rockies shortstop didn’t match his career hitting line the first month of the season, it’s still April and not every player is in midseason form yet. Keeping that in mind, it’s fairly easy to deem Tulowitzki’s April from a year ago a success.
Coming off of what was essentially a lost season since Tulowitzki only played in 47 games in 2012, it’s tough to project how he’ll respond. He seemed fine in spring training, but will his production translate to the regular season? It looks as if he should be OK, but maybe not up to par just yet. It’s likely that he still needs to make a few adjustments to get back to where he needs to be.
Predicted 2013 April Stats: .264/.318/.430, 3 HR, 15 RBI
2012 April Stats: .353/.413/.603, 4 HR, 9 RBI
Buster Posey is really just about as good as it gets. You'll learn to never doubt him, if you haven't figured that out already.
Although he couldn’t keep up the ridiculous pace that he had to start the 2012 season, he still came away with the NL MVP Award and another World Series ring. The guy just doesn’t stop producing or winning—unless someone slides into his ankle.
Although I just said not to question the San Francisco Giants catcher, I’m going to a little bit here. It’s going to be very tough to either equal or improve on his numbers from last April. His stats are just much too high to do so. If he accomplishes that feat, he’ll most likely add another MVP to his trophy collection. Don’t rule out another ring either.
Predicted 2013 April Stats: .367/.429/.627, 3 HR, 13 RBI