Here is the All-Star team for April
The Major League Baseball regular season is six months long, which allows us to break the season into six convenient chunks. Each of these chunks counts the same, even if it doesn’t seem that way at the time. It always feels, in the moment, that the first and last months count more.
But throughout the season, we will be putting together an All-Star team for each month. As we wrap up this thrilling April, here’s an All-Star pick from each league, at each position. These are the stars of the season, so far.
(All stats are entering Friday’s action.)
NL: J.T. Realmuto, PHI (116 OPS+, 3 SB)
AL: Jonah Heim, TEX (.333/.444/.600)
There are no obvious NL, so we’ll go ahead and just take Realmuto, who has been his usual steady self on a team that is not always so steady.
But the real story is Heim. The “Buffalo Bomber” -- his actual nickname, he’s from Tonawanda, N.Y. -- has been the best hitter on the Rangers, thanks in part to a grand slam he hit off Shohei Ohtani on April 14. He’s a 26-year-old catching rookie from Buffalo. How do you not root for Jonah Heim?
NL: C.J. Cron, COL (7 HR, 18 RBIs)
AL: Anthony Rizzo, NYY (8 HR, 19 RBIs)
It’s like the old days again: The best sluggers are first basemen once more. Cron and Rizzo, both 32 years old, both finding their peaks in the dawn of a new season, lead their respective leagues in homers. Cron is picking up where he left off -- he was the first baseman on our September 2021 All-Star team, too -- and could be on pace to make the first actual All-Star team of his nine-year career. His homer barrage is enough to stave off Eric Hosmer, who is hitting .415.
Rizzo has already made the Midsummer Classic three times, all with the Cubs, and he sure is silencing all those doubters who wanted the Yankees to reach higher to fill their first base hole. That short right field porch and Rizzo have become best friends.
NL: Jazz Chisholm Jr., MIA (.308/.356/.673, 9 XBH)
AL: Owen Miller, CLE (.409/.460/.727, 8 2B)
Miller has technically played more games at first base than he has at second, but we’re putting him at second just so we can get him on this list. The start to his season has been remarkable, to say the least; he leads the majors in doubles and is hitting .409. Pretty terrific for a guy with just 60 non-descript games on his resume heading into this year.
Chisholm had an up-and-down 2021 but so far this year he’s looking like the future star many people expected. His nine extra-base hits give him the narrow edge over the Cardinals’ Tommy Edman, who otherwise has matched him step for step.
NL: Francisco Lindor, NYM (4 HR, 3 SB)
AL: Xander Bogaerts, BOS (29 H, .392 BA)
Bogaerts leads an incredible list of contenders in the AL, as Seattle’s J.P. Crawford (slugging .567) and Tampa Bay’s Wander Franco (four homers, general Wander-ness) have been excellent so far. But Bogaerts is leading the AL in hits and is batting nearly .400. Turns out bringing in Trevor Story hasn’t been much of an issue at all.
Lindor is a pretty easy pick in the NL, because he’s been terrific but also because he has become, in many ways, the avatar of this Mets team. He’s joyous, he’s electric and he -- like the franchise so far -- appears to have put any negative feels in the past. This is what this was supposed to look like.
NL: Nolan Arenado, STL (.382/.455/.691)
AL: José Ramírez, CLE (.708 SLG, 25 RBIs)
Two of the best players in the sport who have never won an MVP, Ramírez and Arenado are both off to blistering starts. You won’t be hearing any, “Well, he only hit in Coors,” talk about Arenado for a while, as he’s leading the NL in OPS, while playing his usual sterling defense. He has never finished higher than third in the voting but he’s probably your NL clubhouse leader right now. (Apologies to Manny Machado, who would be the pick in almost any other month.)
Ramírez is celebrating his contract extension by launching the ball with his usual regularity. He’s currently on pace for more than 160 RBIs, and hey, wouldn’t that be fun?
NL: Joc Pederson, SF (.745 SLG); Seiya Suzuki, CHC (1.024 OPS); Nick Castellanos, PHI (.319/.398/.514)
AL: Mike Trout, LAA (.352/.478/.778); Aaron Judge, NYY (5 HR); Byron Buxton, MIN (6 HR, .778 SLG)
You can’t call anything in the AL fluky. This looks pretty much exactly like your preseason starting All-Star outfield projection. Of course, the question with all three of those players, as always, is health. But you can see what they are capable of when they’re at 100 percent: They basically have broken the game.
The National League, fair to say, is a little less clear, at least after the first two. Suzuki has been a revelation in Chicago, and hey, it turns out Pederson did not need the pearls to thrive.
AL: Yordan Alvarez, HOU (4 HR)
NL: Daniel Vogelbach, PIT (.365 OBP, .509 SLG)
Hey, for the first time: A National League designated hitter! Teams generally switch around their DHs, so we cut this off with a “50% of their games played at DH” parameter. It’s usually Alvarez or Ohtani in the AL. Alvarez has the most homers so far at the position despite missing time.
Vogelbach is more than a cartoon cult hero. He’s a fantastic hitter so far, and he’s even leading off most of the time.
NL: Pablo López, MIA (3-0, 0.39 ERA)
Carlos Rodón, SF; Kyle Wright, ATL; Corbin Burnes, MIL; Max Scherzer, NYM
AL: Justin Verlander, HOU (1.73 ERA, 0.69 WHIP)
Alek Manoah, TOR; Joe Ryan, MIN; Logan Gilbert, SEA; Patrick Sandoval, LAA
There have been some truly incredible pitching performances in the early going. There are five more names in each league who could be on this list.
Even with some of the surprises, we had to go with Verlander to start for the AL. To be doing this at age 39, after barely pitching for two years, is jaw-dropping stuff.
NL: Josh Hader, MIL (9 1/3 IP, 0 ER); David Bednar, PIT (9 IP, 0 ER)
AL: Aroldis Chapman, NYY (7 1/3 IP, 0 ER); Garrett Whitlock, BOS (16 2/3 IP, 1 ER)
Some familiar names here, but you have to shout out what Bednar, and the entire Pirates bullpen, is doing right now. Bednar has been the standout, but Wil Crowe and Dillon Peters also have combined to allow one earned run over 24 2/3 relief innings.