Do MLB's Top April Home Run Sluggers Finish the Season on Top?
As great as April was for Justin Upton, what's in store for the rest of his 2013 season?
The Braves outfielder polished off an amazing first month by leading the National League—and the majors—with 12 home runs, three more than any other hitter in the game.
Over in the American League, Chris Davis of the Orioles and Edwin Encarnacion of the Blue Jays came out of April sharing the lead with nine whoppers apiece.
But how do first-month homer leaders perform in that category over the rest of the season? Let's find out, shall we?
Over the past 10 years, dating back to 2003, here are the long-ball leaders through April* in both the AL and NL:
Couple quick takeaways?
First, looking at 2012's leaders serves as a stark reminder of how one season doesn't necessarily carry over to the next, as Josh Hamilton (.204 average, two homers) and Matt Kemp (.260, one) are nowhere near where they were a year ago at this time.
Second, as ridiculous as Alex Rodriguez was in 2007 and Albert Pujols was in 2006, when they each hit 14 out, here's betting you could've had 100 guesses and not come up with any of Kelly Johnson (nine homers in 2010) or Joe Crede (seven in '08) or Jonny Gomes (11 in '06) as a league home run leader through the past 10 Aprils.
Point being, while this list is made up primarily of big-name and big-time sluggers, there are a few random blokes littered throughout, too.
Anyway, back to the numbers.
Here's a chart of how the home run leaders heading into May finished in that category for the entire season:
*Carlos Beltran was traded from the Royals to the Astros during 2004, so his home run rank is where he would have placed in the AL; his 38 homers would have ranked 12 in MLB.
Now let's get inside those numbers in the table.
Where will Justin Upton finish among National League home run leaders at season's end?
Home run leaders through April from 2003-12 averaged 35.7 four-baggers over the course of the entire season. Incidentally, the NL average was 35.6. Pretty neat, huh?
The AL homer leaders through April, though, beat their NL counterparts in three key aspects when it came to end-of-season results in the category:
- League top 10 finishes: 10 to eight
- League top five finishes: 10 to five
- League leaders: Five to zero
That last point is rather remarkable.
In other words, while five players who were leading the American League in home runs entering the month of May since 2003 have gone on to lead the Junior Circuit for the season, not a single player in the National League has pulled off this feat.
So while Justin Upton finished April three long balls ahead of the Nationals' Bryce Harper and the Mets' John Buck for the NL lead, he's got his work cut out for him if he's going to finish the season the way he started it—on top.
*Through April includes totals from both March and April.
All statistics come from FanGraphs.
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