Yesterday, we looked at how each player's stock was doing to that point, but today we're going to give out some belated monthly awards to the best hitter, pitcher and fielder from April.
Hitter of the Month: Brett Wallace - Gaudy batting average, good power numbers and solid wOBA and on-base percentages give Wallace the edge here. Though he and Hunter Pence tied for most WAR on the team in April, Wallace was discounted for his fielding, so he had more ground to make up with his bat. A move up in the batting order is inevitable and I can only imagine what Wallace will do hitting either before Pence in the two-hole or batting cleanup behind him.
Pitcher of the Month: Bud Norris - The first month of the 2011 season has shown the pitcher we hoped Bud Norris would be when he debuted two years ago. He's got a lower walk rate. He's a pure power pitcher, able to blow a fastball by hitters when he needs to and he throws ungodly breaking stuff. He has also pitched at least 6 innings in every start but his first of the season, striking out at least six every time out. His walk rate has dropped a full point from his first two seasons in the big leagues, and his LOB percentage has only ticked up a little from last year. Oh, and his batting average on balls in play shows this isn't just a product of luck. Bud Norris, at least for April, is for real.
Fielder of the Month: Hunter Pence - This was pretty hard, picking between Hunter and Carlos Lee. Ultimately, I gave it to Pence for a few reasons. First, his and Lee's UZR numbers are close enough to be considered a wash. Pence is at 2.0 and Lee is at 2.3. While Lee does have a slight edge, it wasn't enough to sway me. Second, Pence has played more defensive innings than Lee, and it's not a close race there. Pence has nearly 60 more defensive innings to account for. He's made a higher percentage of plays on balls hit into his zone and made more plays on balls out of his zone than Lee. But, for some reason, his DRS factor for Plays Made is four less than Lee, which is a big reason why Lee is at +4 DRS and Pence is at -1. Only Michael Bourn has made a higher percentage of plays on balls hit into his zone. For those reasons, I gave Pence the nod here. Plus, I wanted to recognize him somewhere, since he's been the best all-around player on the team this season.