The 2021 MLB season got off to a crazy start. Here are my selections for the best position player, pitcher, rookie, and reliever for April in the American and National League. Some choices were tough, while others did not have any competition. After seeing what the best of the best can do in April, it will be exciting to see what they can do as the MLB season continues.
American League Position Player of the Month (Byron Buxton, Minnesota Twins)
It was a close race for position player of the month between Mike Trout and Byron Buxton. I decided to give the edge to Buxton. In April, Buxton slashed .426/.466/.897/.1.363 across 18 games and 68 at-bats. Buxton had 29 hits, eight doubles, eight home runs, 15 runs,14 RBIs, and four stolen bases. He only walked three times. Buxton when healthy is an all-star caliber centerfielder.
He is fast, has an elite glove, and has power. Buxton is showcasing unprecedented power numbers. In April alone, he was able to hit eight home runs, his career-high was 16 home runs back in 2017 when he played 140 games. If the 27-year-old can stay healthy we could potentially see an MVP campaign for Buxton.
American League Pitcher of the Month (Gerrit Cole, New York Yankees)
Gerrit Cole is undoubtedly the best pitcher in the American League, he is the second-best pitcher in the majors behind Jacob deGrom. He did what he is being paid to do: get batters out and prevent runs. He had a stellar April. Cole posted an ERA of 1.43 across 37.2 innings in six games. Cole struck out 62 batters, a WHIP of 0.72, and a FIP of 0.48.
He was absolutely dominant for the Yankees. While the Yankees were struggling Cole was one of the few guys on the Yankees to get the job done. Every team, but the Mets would have Cole leading their squad. He is extraordinary.
American League Rookie of the Month (Yermin Mercedes, Chicago White Sox)
The race for the best rookie in April for the American League was not close. Yermin Mercedes had an unbelievable start to his season and it came out of nowhere. In April, Mercedes slashed .415/455/.659/.1.114 across 82 at-bats in 22 games. He hit five home runs, had 16 RBIs, 34 hits, six BBs, one IBB, and 10 runs.
Mercedes made his debut in 2020 where he played in one game and only had one at-bat so he kept his rookie status for 2021. The 28-year-old was able to find his way onto the White Sox opening day roster and had an immediate impact.
American League Reliever of the Month (Aroldis Chapman, New York Yankees)
Due to the number of relievers, it is hard to choose just one to give the title as the best reliever of the month. I decided to go with Aroldis Chapman. In April, Chapman appeared in eight games and pitched eight innings. He was 4/4 in save opportunities and did not allow a run. He allowed only two hits and three walks.
The reason I chose him is that he struck out 20 batters in eight innings of work. That is pure dominance. Along with not allowing a run across 8 innings. Chapman still has stuff left in the tank and we will all get the joy of watching him continue his stellar career.
National League Position Player of the Month (Ronald Acuna Jr., Atlanta Braves)
There was not really any debate as to who the best position player in the NL for April was. Acuna easily was my pick for April. Ronald Acuna Jr. is the definition of a superstar. He is one of the faces of not just the Braves, but the MLB. His April slash line was .341/.443/.705/.1.148 in 88 at-bats in 24 games.
He hit 8 home runs, recorded 30 hits, 25 runs, 18 RBIs, 3 stolen bases, and 15 walks. This was an incredible start to Acuna’s 2021 season, he has already begun his MVP campaign.
National League Pitcher of the Month (Jacob deGrom, New York Mets)
An award that is given to a pitcher? Yep, it makes sense that deGrom is getting it. What more is there to say about Jacob deGrom? He had an unbelievable month in April. In any other month, the numbers Corbin Burnes produced would have won him the award for the pitcher of the month, unfortunately for him, Jacob deGrom exists.
In April, DeGrom pitched in five games, had an ERA of 0.51, went 35 innings, struck out 59 batters, had a bWAR of 2, and only allowed two runs. He also pitched a complete game shutout, led the NL in strikeouts, led the league in ERA+, hits per nine innings, and strikeouts per nine innings.
DeGrom had an unbelievable month, he pitched three games in a row with at least 14 or more strikeouts (14,14,15). There is only one man in baseball better than deGrom, Mike Trout. deGrom’s abilities have placed him as to what I believe to be the best player in the National League and second-best in the entire MLB.
National League Rookie of the Month (Trevor Rogers, Miami Marlins)
The young left-hander makes quite the impression to start the year for Miami. Trevor Rogers had a very strong April, making five starts, an ERA of 1.29, 28 IP, 4 ER, and 38 SO. This was not expected as Rogers struggled in 2020.
However, he was able to get the job done in April. Rogers has stepped up with the absence of Sixto Sanchez. As of now, it looks like Rogers has a bright future with the Marlins, and Miami has found a gem. It will be exciting to see what Rogers can do going forward.
National League Reliever of the Month (Alex Reyes, St. Louis Cardinals)
Alex Reyes is the clear choice for NL reliever of the month for April. He did not give up a single run in April in 12.1 innings across 12 games. He allowed six hits, 10 BBs, recorded six saves, and struck out 14. Reyes was absolutely dominant for the Cardinals in April.
Pitching across the entire league has been stellar so far in this early 2021 season. It will be exciting to see what these star-caliber pitchers can do.