TCB Hitter of the Month: April

Otto Greule Jr

Since April will be leaving us in short order, this week's awards installment will revolve around not the best of the week, but of the past month.

Again, as I have done in past weeks, these are completely subjective. As required by my BBWAA membership, I've also included a healthy dose of grit and clutch into the rankings, so they're not based just off one or two stats.

That being said, here are your monthy superlatives for the hitters.

Honorable mentions

Jose Altuve

Count this as a pleasant surprise. Altuve's offense has stabilized above how he finished 2013 and close to the levels he was at in 2012. That doesn't indicate a star in the traditional sense, as his power continues to be non-existing and his walk rate non-elite. But, take his modest offensive profile with his adaption to the shift and his leadership role, and Altuve should be a solid league-average starter moving forward.

Jonathan Villar

Another qualified surprise, Villar has been an improved offensive player, even if his batting average doesn't show it. The shortstop is hitting for plenty of power, leading the team in isolated power average. He was also second on the team in wRC+ and one of four starters with positive base running numbers. In short, it looks like Villar will be a capable starter at short this season, shoring up a position that has been a revolving door since Miguel Tejada left.

Hitter of the Month

Jason Castro

Consider Castro also the leader in the clubhouse for Houston's
lone All-Star representative this season. His batting average may be down, but the backstop is getting on base at a good clip and showing the same power he did last year.

His wRC+ of 111 is tops on the team for April, while he also is tied for the team lead with four home runs, tops the weighted On-Base Average list and is second to Jonathan Villar in isolated power average.

His batting average on balls in play is a little low right now, which is explained by a line drive rate about seven percent below what he's posted in the past two full seasons. Once that rebounds, expect Castro's average to perk back up and for his OBP to get close to .350.

Not that it matters for this award, but it's also encouraging that Castro's defense has perked up. Though very early for defensive rates, Castro appears to be slightly above average there. Basically, Castro is nearly the prototypical catcher, with only lingering injury concerns preventing him from becoming a franchise player there for the next eight years.

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