It's never too early to talk about Cy Young Award and MVP Award candidates. In this case, players from every team are the beneficiaries.
With the first month of the 2013 MLB season now in the books, it's time to give these players their just desserts.
Their just April desserts, that is.
Each team had players performing at a high level from Opening Day throughout the entire month. The phrase "slow start" simply wasn't in their vocabulary.
Here is the Cy Young and MVP award choices for each MLB team for the month of April.
MVP: Paul Goldschmidt
Stats: .287 BA, 5 HR, 18 RBI, .495 SLG, .882 OPS
Goldschmidt has easily been the most consistent performer for the Arizona Diamondbacks in the first month of play. Coming off a solid first full season in which he hit .286 with 20 home runs and 82 RBI, Goldschmidt appears ready to take his game to the next level with his efforts in April.
Cy Young: Patrick Corbin
Stats: 3-0, 1.91 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 6.8 K/9, 1.9 BB/9, .231 BAA
After beating out Tyler Skaggs and Randall Delgado for the final spot in the starting rotation, Corbin continues to impress.
The Diamondbacks won all five of his starts, and all of them were of the quality variety.
It's entirely possible that being pushed during spring training served to be of great benefit to Corbin.
MVP: Justin Upton
Stats: .298 BA, 12 HR, 19 RBI, .734 SLG, 1.136 OPS
In one month's time, Upton has nearly matched his home run output for the entire 2012 season. He shattered the franchise record for the most April home runs (10) previously shared by Andres Galarraga (1998, 2000) and Ryan Klesko (1996).
The Braves likely can't wait to see what Upton does for an encore.
Cy Young: Craig Kimbrel
Stats: 1.69 ERA, 9 SV, 0.84 WHIP, 12.7 K/9, .167 BAA
Aside from a blip in the radar with a blown save against the Colorado Rockies last week, Kimbrel has been positively nasty.
Kimbrel broke out of the gates with eight saves in his first nine appearances, looking every bit the pitcher who has dominated and risen to the top of the class among elite closers in the majors.
MVP: Chris Davis
Stats: .352 BA, 9 HR, 28 RBI, .750 SLG, 1.182 OPS
The month of April couldn't possibly have gone much better for Davis. He opened the month by tying and setting MLB records for most home runs in consecutive games to start a season and most RBIs in the first four games.
Davis has been dangerous, hitting a ball 400 feet with one hand.
Cy Young: Jim Johnson
Stats: 0.64 ERA, 10 SV, 1.00 WHIP, 7.7 K/9, .204 BAA
Johnson posted a major league-leading 51 saves last year, and he's up to his old tricks with 10 saves in the month of April to lead all of baseball.
Johnson took the loss in an extra-inning affair last week—it was the only earned run he's given up all season.
MVP: Mike Napoli
Stats: .269 BA, 4 HR, 27 RBI, .529 SLG, .850 OPS
One of the primary concerns for the Red Sox heading into the 2013 season was whether or not designated hitter David Ortiz would have the protection he needed behind him.
Mike Napoli has answered that call.
He has set a new team record for extra-base hits in April with 18 and fell just short of breaking Manny Ramirez's record for most RBIs in April (31 in 2001).
Not a bad way at all to start off his Red Sox career.
Even teammate Dustin Pedroia was impressed with Napoli's efforts—not so much with his facial hair.
Also Congrats to @mikenapoli25 for most extra base hits in April for a Red Sox! Pretty amazing considering the below average beard!— Dustin Pedroia (@15Lasershow) April 27, 2013
Sorry Dustin, but Napoli has you beat in that department as well.
Cy Young: Clay Buchholz
Stats: 5-0, 1.19 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 9.3 K/9, .192 BAA
The two anchors at the top of the Red Sox rotation—Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz—suffered subpar seasons last year. It was imperative that both bounce back in order for the Red Sox to have any kind of a chance in the AL East in 2013.
It's safe to say that both responded to the challenge.
Lester and Buchholz have combined for a 9-0 record and 1.70 ERA, leading the rotation to the top of the heap in the American League. Each of Buchholz's starts was a quality start, working a minimum of seven innings to help keep his bullpen fresh.
The Cubs will end the month of April with a 10-15 record and no one position player has set himself apart from the rest. A case could be made for first baseman Anthony Rizzo with his eight home runs and 19 RBI. But the .202 average and 27 strikeouts hold him back.
Right fielder Nate Schierholtz has been a nice surprise with his .296 and three home runs, but those are certainly not MVP-worthy numbers.
Cy Young: James Russell
Stats: 0.00 ERA, 6 HLD, 0.55 WHIP, 10.6 K/9, .139 BAA
It's not often a reliever other than a closer gets much recognition, but the performance of James Russell in the month of April has been nothing short of outstanding.
Russell has allowed just a .386 OPS thus far and sports an impressive 13.0 K/BB rate as well.
MVP: Conor Gillaspie
Stats: .311 BA, 2 HR, 4 RBI, .368 OBP, .859 OPS
With Gordon Beckham currently on the disabled list, new acquisition Jeff Keppinger moved over to second base, giving Conor Gillaspie a chance for everyday play at the hot corner.
He has shined thus far and has been a breath of fresh air for a team who has largely struggled to find consistency offensively.
Cy Young: Addison Reed
Stats: 1.64 ERA, 8 SV, 1.00 WHIP, 9.8 K/9, .179 BAA
Addison Reed picked up 29 saves last year but was inconsistent at times with a 4.75 ERA. He's largely taken that shakiness out of his game thus far in 2013. Reed has allowed runs in only two of his 11 appearances thus far and has provided the White Sox with a more than viable ninth-inning option.
MVP: Shin-Soo Choo
Stats: .337 BA, 4 HR, 11 RBI, .477 OBP, 1.031 OPS
Considering that Cincinnati Reds leadoff hitters hit a combined .208 with a .254 OBP last year, you can't ask for much more than what Choo has given them thus far in 2013.
Choo's 33 hits are the most in the National League, and he's helped to give the Reds an entirely different look at the top of their batting order.
Cy Young: Aroldis Chapman
Stats: 0.64 ERA, 6 SV, 0.60 WHIP, 14.2 K/9, .114 BAA
Chapman is up to his old tricks.
After a dominant 2012 season, Chapman is again befuddling opposing hitters. The decision to move him back to the front end of the bullpen was indeed the correct call.
MVP: Carlos Santana
Stats: .389 BA, 5 HR, 13 RBI, .722 SLG, 1.198 OPS
Heading into the 2013 season, it's likely that few would have considered Santana to be in contention for a batting title. That could be the case as the season rolls along, but for now, Santana sits atop the American League.
Santana carried a .247 average into this season.
Cy Young: Joe Smith
Stats: 0.00 ERA, 1 SV, 2 HLD, 0.50 WHIP, 10.1 K/9, .154 BAA
Indians reliever Joe Smith has answered the call every time manager Terry Francona has needed him thus far. Smith has been positively nasty, holding opposing hitters to just a .346 OPS.
MVP: Wilin Rosario
Stats: .350 BA, 7 HR, 19 RBI, .650 SLG, 1.023 OPS
Colorado Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario is turning into an offensive beast.
Fresh off a season in which he hit .270 with 28 home runs and 71 RBI, Rosario is taking his game to the next level.
Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports believes that Rosario is at the top of the list as one of MLB's next great hitters.
Cy Young: Jhoulys Chacin
Stats: 3-1, 1.46 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, .193 BAA, .522 OPS
The Rockies can only hope that Chacin returns quickly from a back strain that landed him on the disabled list on April 19.
Chacin has begun throwing again and is targeting May 5 as his date of return. Catcher Wilin Rosario can't wait for Chacin to return.
"Right now, I think he's the best starter in the National League, and we need him back," Rosario told Tom Harding of MLB.com. "I ask him every day how he's feeling, because we want that guy on the mound."
MVP: Torii Hunter
Stats: .370 BA, 1 HR, 12 RBI, .500 SLG, .911 OPS
At the age of 37, Torii Hunter has reinvented himself as a hitter. After hitting .313 for the Los Angeles Angels last year, Hunter continues to show that he's nowhere near ready for retirement.
Former pitcher and current MLB Network analyst Dan Plesac echoed the sentiment regarding Hunter's age.
Hunter's 37 hits are tied for the most in the American League.
Cy Young: Anibal Sanchez
Stats: 3-1, 1.34 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 11.0 K/9, .213 BAA
Sanchez's 17-strikeout performance against the Atlanta Braves last Friday was an absolute thing of beauty. But it's far from being the only highlight of his 2013 season thus far.
Sanchez has yet to allow a home run this year and is holding opposing batters to just a .534 OPS.
MVP: Jose Altuve
Stats: .330 BA, 1 HR, 14 RBI, .438 SLG, .811 OPS
At just 5'5" and 175 pounds, Altuve stands tall amongst his teammates.
Altuve has been one of the lone bright spots on a team who posted an 8-19 record for the month of April.
Cy Young: None
It's hard to give out this award when the Astros sport the worst team ERA in the majors (5.33). The rotation has been the biggest culprit with a 6.08 ERA thus far.
MVP: Alex Gordon
Stats: .317 BA, 3 HR, 17 RBI, .500 SLG, .849 OPS
Ever since Alex Gordon was moved from third base to left field, his offense has taken off. Making the move permanently in 2011, Gordon has been outstanding, leading the majors with 51 doubles last year along with winning two Gold Glove awards in a row.
Gordon has continued his success at the plate in 2013 as well, giving the Royals a stellar option at the top of the batting order.
Cy Young: Ervin Santana
Stats: 3-1, 2.00 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 7.75 K/9, .235 BAA
Considering how well the Royals' starting rotation has pitched thus far, any one of several pitchers could have won this award for the month of April. However, Santana's performance is especially significant given the subpar performance turned in last year for the Los Angeles Angels.
Santana has delivered four quality starts in a row, and he's keeping the ball in the park, allowing just four home runs in his five outings. Santana gave up a whopping 39 long balls last year.
It's difficult to pinpoint one star who has shined in the Angels lineup in the first month of play. As a team, the Angels are hitting just .225 with runners in scoring position. The big bats of Mike Trout, Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols have, for the most part, been far too silent in key game situations thus far.
Cy Young: Jerome Williams
Stats: 1-0, 1.69 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, .203 BAA
While the revamped Los Angeles Angels pitching staff has largely struggled, one holdover from last year has stepped it up.
Jerome Williams put forth an outstanding effort in Monday night's 19-inning loss to the Oakland Athletics. Williams worked six innings, allowing just four hits and one unearned run. He's given the Angels outstanding work in long/middle relief, which is about the only highlight from the pitching staff all season.
MVP: Adrian Gonzalez
Stats: .333, 2 HR, 18 RBI, .478 SLB, .871 OPS
Gonzalez has cooled off somewhat after hitting .375 in his first 20 games, but he has thus far taken the mantel in terms of offensive leadership.
With Matt Kemp starting to warm up after a slow start and Hanley Ramirez returning to the everyday lineup, Gonzalez will have help in providing offensive firepower.
Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw
Stats: 3-2, 1.73 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 10.2 K/9, .181 BAA
Kershaw is a perfect example of why a win-loss record has become a woefully inadequate tool in determining a pitcher's overall value.
His current numbers rival and in some cases are better than his Cy Young Award-winning performance in 2011 thus far.
There's simply not much good to say about the Marlins offense, and it's going to get worse before it gets better. The Marlins were dealt a major blow with the hamstring injury suffered by Giancarlo Stanton, who represented the only real source of power on the team.
According to ESPN, Stanton could be out for at least a month. Stanton was tied for the team lead in home runs (3) with Justin Ruggiano, and they were already last in that department in the majors.
Cy Young: Mike Dunn
Stats: 2.13 ERA, 4 HLD, 1.34 WHIP, 8.5 K/9, .265 BAA
Dunn has been the most dependable Marlins pitcher thus far for a staff who has posted a 4.22 team ERA.
MVP: Jean Segura
Stats: .367 BA, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 7 SB, .567 SLG, .985 OPS
Take away Segura's major baserunning blunder earlier this month and he had a tremendous April.
Segura has given the Brewers a hot bat that has helped them in the No. 2, leading to more opportunities for Ryan Braun and the heart of the batting order.
Cy Young: Jim Henderson
Stats: 0.75 ERA, 6 SV, 0.75 WHIP, 11.25 K/9, .143 BAA
Since taking over as closer, Henderson has solidified the ninth inning for manager Ron Roenicke. Henderson didn't get to the majors until the ripe old age of 29, but he's working on making up for lost time.
MVP: Eduardo Escobar
Stats: .378 BA, 1 HR, 5 RBI, .541 SLG, .935 OPS
Escobar doesn't get everyday playing time, but he has made the most of what he has gotten.
Escobar has doubled his batting average over his career .217 mark heading into this season.
Cy Young: Kevin Correia
Stats: 3-1, 2.23 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 3.7 K/9, .252 BAA
Correia isn't going to dazzle anyone with a blazing fastball, but he has delivered big-time punch for the Twins in April.
Correia has delivered durability as well.
Kevin Correia is 1st #Twins pitcher to go 7 or more innings in 1st 5 appearances of the season since Carlos Silva (10 straight) in ’05.— STATS LLC (@STATS_MLB) April 28, 2013
Eating innings is always a bonus, and Correia hasn't just delivered on that front but with quality.
MVP: John Buck
Stats: .241 BA, 9 HR, 25 RBI, .575 SLG, .844 OPS
The New York Mets added catcher John Buck in the deal that sent R.A. Dickey to the Toronto Blue Jays. Buck has always hit for some power, so the Mets were likely hoping to catch some lightning in a bottle.
They got a whole lot more than that—they got a record setter.
Buck's 25 RBI for the month also fell just one short of the franchise record for the month of April held by Jeff Kent.
Cy Young: Matt Harvey
Stats: 4-0, 1.56 ERA, 0.82 WHIP, 10.3 K/9, .153 BAA
Harvey was simply brilliant throughout the entire month. The Miami Marlins worked him for a high pitch count on Monday night, yet he still gave up just one run on seven hits while striking out seven in the 121-pitch effort.
Harvey is on everyone's radar in terms of Cy Young candidacy right now and rightfully so. Only the high pitch count on Monday prevented Harvey from collecting his sixth quality start for the month.
MVP: Vernon Wells/Travis Hafner
Without question, the Yankees were devastated by injuries to Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson and now Kevin Youkilis. But the two new guys breathed life into the Yankees' offense.
The contributions of both Wells and Hafner were huge in the month of April. While many experts expected a drastic drop-off in power, the Yankees finished the month with 36 home runs, just one behind the Cleveland Indians for the lead in the American League.
Hafner and Wells can both lay claim to the fact that the Yankees should never be underestimated.
Cy Young: Hiroki Kuroda
Stats: 4-1, 2.25 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 7.5 K/9, .206 BAA
He may be 38 years of age, but Kuroda is pitching like he's in his prime.
Kuroda shut down the Houston Astros on just four hits on Tuesday—a night after the Yankees had been shelled for nine runs.
MVP: Josh Donaldson
Stats: .314 BA, 2 HR, 20 RBI, .485 SLG, .878 OPS
Donaldson took hold of the everyday third base job last year, and it's clear he has no intention of giving it back anytime soon.
Donaldson shrugged off a slow start to bounce back with a productive month.
Cy Young: Jerry Blevins
Stats: 1.65 ERA, 0.67 WHIP, 8.9 K/9, .175 BAA
Blevins doesn't get the sexy jobs—he's not the setup man, and he's not called upon to close games.
But when A's manager Bob Melvin has called on him, Blevins has absolutely delivered.
MVP: Chase Utley
Stats: .296 BA, 5 HR, 19 RBI, .531 SLG, .870 OPS
After not playing any baseball in the month of April since 2010, Utley showed how much he missed playing in the early portion of the season.
Completely healthy to start the season for the first time in three years, Utley put up stellar numbers. He added his fifth home run in the Tuesday night loss to the Cleveland Indians.
Cy Young: Kyle Kendrick
Stats: 2-1, 2.41 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 6.4 K/9, .230 BAA
Kendrick solidified the job as No. 4 starter last year and has taken his job behind the big three of Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee very seriously.
Kendrick delivered four straight quality starts that included a brilliant three-hit shutout over the New York Mets last Friday.
MVP: Garrett Jones
Stats: .312 BA, 3 HR, 15 RBI, .519 SLG, .884 OPS
Jones has been one of the most consistent performers on a team who has been up-and-down offensively.
After starting the season at the bottom of the standings, the Pirates have steadily climbed back up toward the middle of the pack. Jones has led that charge with a standout effort while manning both first base and right field without committing an error thus far.
Cy Young: Jason Grilli
Stats: 0.82 ERA, 10 SV, 0.82 WHIP, 13.9 K/9, .132
Move over Craig Kimbrel and Aroldis Chapman—there's another closer in town threatening elite status.
The job turned in by Grilli in his first month as a closer has been nothing less than spectacular. Grilli even set a record in the process.
Grilli has made the Joel Hanrahan trade look like a shrewd move thus far.
MVP: Chris Denorfia
Stats: .305 BA, 1 HR, 8 RBI, .427 SLG, .786 OPS
With the injury to Cameron Maybin, Denorfia—who normally platoons with Wil Venable in right field—has shined in full-time duty.
Cy Young: Luke Gregerson
Stats: 1.46 ERA, 5 HLD, 0.73 WHIP, 5.8 K/9, .122 BAA
Gregerson continues to be one of the top setup men in the National League despite a starting rotation that has largely struggled.
Gregerson's .122 BAA is particularly impressive given the fact his team is 10-16 and not putting him in the best of situations with each appearance.
MVP: Pablo Sandoval
Stats: .333 BA, 4 HR, 22 RBI, .495 SLG, .861 OPS
Sandoval may have some elbow pain, but he's not letting it affect him at the plate.
Here's a little stat tidbit from Andrew Baggerly of CSNBayArea.com:
Pablo Sandoval has 11 hits in his last 17 at-bats. His 35 hits are tied with the Buccos' Marte for most in the NL. #PandaMode— Andrew Baggarly (@CSNBaggs) May 1, 2013
Not too shabby for a guy still battling some weight issues.
Cy Young: Madison Bumgarner
Stats: 3-0, 1.87 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 9.1 K/9, .190 BAA
With both Matt Cain and Ryan Vogelsong struggling in the early going, Bumgarner has stepped it up.
He has already fast become one of the elite southpaws in the National League, and at 23 years of age, he is nowhere near his prime. Bumgarner is absolutely going to be a force for the Giants for years to come.
MVP: Kyle Seager
Stats: .295, 3 HR, 13 RBI, .505 SLG, .857 OPS
Seager leads the league with 10 doubles, and he has been the steadiest contributor for an offense that is third from last in runs scored.
Cy Young: Tom Wilhelmsen
Stats: 0.75 ERA, 8 SV, 0.67 WHIP, 6.8 K/9, .100 BAA
Wilhelmsen has given the Mariners everything they could have possibly asked for in a closer.
He's 8-for-8 in save opportunities, and his ability to hold batters to a .100 average has been a blessing for a team struggling in fourth place in the AL West.
There are several areas of concern on this Mariners team, but the closer position is not one of them.
MVP: Matt Adams
Stats: .542 BA, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 1.042 SLG, 1.634 OPS
Yes, he only played in eight games for the month, but the numbers put up by Adams were simply sick.
Getting playing time only when Allen Craig moved to the outfield, Adams was a hitting machine despite the uneven playing time.
Cy Young: Adam Wainwright
Stats: 4-2, 2.03 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 8.7 K/9, .248 BAA
This could have gone to any of three starters—Shelby Miller, Jake Westbrook or Wainwright.
But Wainwright gets the nod for a more consistent month start-by-start and the fact he has yet to yield a home run yet this season.
MVP: James Loney
Stats: .373 BA, 1 HR, 11 RBI, .537 SLG, .970 OPS
Raise your hand if you thought James Loney would be the offensive star for the Rays at any point this season.
Didn't think so.
I'm not sure if Loney's selection is a reflection of his efforts or the fact that the Rays are really struggling offensively.
MVP: Matt Moore
Stats: 5-0, 1.13 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 10.7 K/9, .121 BAA
Moore wasn't just the best Rays pitcher—he was the best in the majors overall.
Moore went through his struggles last year in his first full season, but he's clearly displaying the dominance many expected when he burst onto the scene in 2011.
Moore stills struggles with walks and overall plate command but not nearly enough to dissuade him from getting the job done in April.
MVP: Lance Berkman
Stats: .319 BA, 2 HR, 15 RBI, .449 OBP, .936 OPS
Berkman appears to have shaken off the knee issues that held him to just 34 games played last year.
His .449 OBP is third in the American League, and his 17 walks place him third as well.
Cy Young: Yu Darvish
Stats: 5-1, 2.33 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 13.5 K/9, .170 BAA
Aside from Darvish's near-perfect performance in his second start, he's otherwise been pretty darn good.
Darvish has assumed the mantel of ace on a Rangers rotation that lost the services of Matt Harrison and has two other starters (Nick Tepesch, Justin Grimm) who were considered fringe-rotation candidates entering the season.
MVP: Jose Reyes
Stats: .395 BA, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 5 SB, .991 OPS
It's pretty telling that a player who is currently injured and played in only 11 games is the Blue Jays MVP for the month of April.
Reyes shined in the first 11 games before severely spraining his ankle. At 10-17 for the month of April, the Jays absolutely need to find a way to keep their heads above water until Reyes returns in June at the earliest.
Cy Young: Casey Janssen
Stats: 1.00 ERA, 7 SV, 0.33 WHIP, 11.0 K/9, .100 BAA
The numbers simply don't get much better for a closer than what Janssen delivered in the month of April.
Janssen saved all seven of his chances during the month and held hitters at bay, giving up just three hits in nine innings.
MVP: Bryce Harper
Stats: .344 BA, 9 HR, 18 RBI, .720 SLG, 1.150 OPS
It's pretty clear now that 20-year-phenom Harper is clearly ready to show he is worthy of being mentioned among the superstars in baseball.
Harper's value offensively is even more pronounced with the struggles of Adam LaRoche and the injury to third baseman Ryan Zimmerman. The Nationals will continue to rely heavily on Harper as they try to keep up with the Atlanta Braves in the NL East.
Cy Young: Jordan Zimmermann
Stats: 4-1, 2.00 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 4.8 K/9, .186 BAA
Zimmermann has put winning above personal goals, and the results have reflected that.
His one-hit shutout on 91 pitches on Friday against the Cincinnati Reds was a prime example: Zimmermann struck out just four hitters—instead working on keeping the ball down in the zone and getting into the late innings to help keep his bullpen fresh.
Zimmermann's plan of attack was revealed to James Wagner of the Washington Post:
“I’m just throwing strikes and trying to get ahead of guys and not trying to get deep in the counts and letting them put the ball in play,” he said. “I don’t care about strikeouts. I don’t want to walk anyone.”
That mindset has worked pretty well thus far.
Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle.
Feel free to talk baseball with Doug anytime on Twitter.