What I love about the first month of the season is that we get to watch players we least expect to succeed dominate the box scores. Even though there is only one All-Star game a year and only year end awards, it is still fun to choose the best players from month to month and watch out for hot streaks.
An all-April team doesn't provide any insight into the future, but it is fun to relive the past month and showcase the players that stood out through the first 25+ games of the year. I don't expect all of the players on this list to finish as their positions top player at the end of 2011 so I'll provide my expectation for that as well. Here is my fantasy baseball all-April team:
Catcher: Russell Martin- After a measly 2010 in which he hit just 5 home runs and batted .248 Martin signed with the Yankees expecting to be a part time player, but he has taken off in his first season in the Bronx. Martin is hitting .293 with 6 long balls and 19 RBIs and is the top catcher in fantasy baseball. With Joe Mauer and Victor Martinez out with injuries, expect Martin to keep his top spot for a while.
-I expect Buster Posey to fill this slot by year's end.
First Base: Prince Fielder- Fielder is another slugger who is coming off a down year. Well, he isn't letting 2010 deter him from being one of the best hitters in baseball in 2011. He is batting .330 with 6 HRs, 26 RBIs and 17 runs scored. If the Brewers can find some pitching stability they will have no choice but to keep Fielder through the end of the season and hope he continues into the playoffs.
-I expect Fielder to remain the top first baseman all season long.
Second Base: Brandon Phillips- He is hitting .351 with 4 homers and 14 RBIs while scoring 22 runs. Phillips had a very bad season in 2010, but so far in 2011 he has his sights set on the top second baseman spot. He is a 30-30 threat in a good lineup and as long as his average stays close to .300 he will continue to produce at an elite clip.
-I expect Robinson Cano will end up as the top 2B.
Shortstop: Starlin Castro- This youngster is a not so obvious choice. With Troy Tulowitzki and Jose Reyes right behind him, Castro is having a great start to 2011. He is batting .336 with 1 home run, 12 RBIs and 4 steals. His statistics aren't as spectacular as his counterparts, but it is surprising at how quickly he has caught on to major league pitching.
-I expect Troy Tulowitzki will end up as our top SS in 2011.
Third base: Jose Bautista- Who knew this guy was for real? Bautista decided to follow up 2010's 54 homer masterpiece with an unexpected boost in average. His average sits at an astonishing .357 and he has 9 homers already. Whoever took a gamble on him is looking like a genius because it appears he is picking up right where he left.
-I expect David Wright will take over as the top player at the hot corner.
Ryan Braun- A no-brainer here as Braun has been one of the best players in baseball for a while, but after a down 2010 he is wasting no time in re-establishing himself. In the month of April Braun hit .358 with 9 home runs, 22 RBIs and 3 steals and is currently the top player in the ESPN universe.
Matt Kemp- Another player who had an awful 2010 compared to their standards, Kemp is resurrecting his young fantasy career. ESPN's No. 2 player hit .362 with 6 home runs, 19 RBIs and 7 steals. He stole just 19 bases in all of 201 and hit .249. If he keeps this pace up he will no doubt finish 2011 with a historic batting line.
Lance Berkman- it has been a while since we've seen Berkman roaming the outfield, but apparently the location and position change from Houston and first base has done him well. With 8 homers and a .388 average in April Berkamn showed us he still has a lot left in his tank after he fizzled out in 2010.
-I expect Braun, Kemp, and Matt Holliday to finish as our top outfielders.
Jered Weaver- Weaver's April was undoubtedly the best start out of any pitcher in baseball this year. He won all five of his starts and posted a miniscule 1.14 ERA with 43 K's in 39.1 innings of work. He held opposing batters to a .171 average and walked only 8. If he isn't the top AL Cy Young candidate then I don't know who is.
Josh Johson- Johnson has been one of baseball's most talented starters for some time now, but he has stepped into dominance after an April that was, well, dominant. He finished April with an ERA of 0.88, 3 wins and 39 K's in 41 innings. He allowed a league best 4 earned runs in April and led the MLB in WHIP and ERA.
-I expect Weaver and Roy Halladay will finish up 2011 as the best starting pitchers.
Relief Pitcher: Huston Street- No surprise here as Street is the closer on one of baseball's best teams so far. He ended April with a perfect save record at 10 for 10 and a 2.20 ERA with 17 K's in 16.1 innings. He is tied for first in baseball with 10 saves and is injury free which is a great sign for Street owners.
-I expect Brian Wilson to close out 2011 as our top closer.