Matt Harvey

April leaders: MLB’s best after one month

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Focusing only on the positive, here are a handful of April top 10s for your perusal.

Players by OPS

1. Carlos Santana (Indians): 1.198
2. Chris Davis (Orioles): 1.171
3. Bryce Harper (Nationals): 1.150
4. Justin Upton (Braves): 1.136
5. Travis Hafner (Yankees): 1.104
6. Dexter Fowler (Rockies): 1.032
7. Carlos Gomez (Brewers): 1.031
8. Shin-Soo Choo (Reds): 1.031
9. Wilin Rosario (Rockies): 1.023
10. Mark Reynolds (Indians): 1.019

– Hafner is actually one plate appearance short of being a “qualified” leader, but I’m tossing him on here anyway. Prince Fielder, at 1.009, is the only other player in the 1.000 OPS club at the moment.

Players by rWAR (Baseball-Reference)

1. Matt Harvey (Mets): 2.1
2. Carlos Gomez (Brewers): 2.0
3. Clay Buchholz (Red Sox): 2.0
4. Justin Upton (Braves): 1.9
5. Justin Verlander (Tigers): 1.9
6. Ian Kinsler (Rangers): 1.9
7. Dexter Fowler (Rockies): 1.9
8. Anibal Sanchez (Tigers): 1.9
9. Starling Marte (Pirates): 1.8
10. Jean Segura (Brewers): 1.8

– On a tear of late, Gomez rates as the NL’s seventh most valuable hitter and second most valuable fielder, according to rWAR. Still, that doesn’t overcome Harvey’s league-best 0.818 WHIP and 4.7 H/9 IP.

Players by fWAR (Fangraphs)

1. Adam Wainwright (Cardinals): 2.1
2. Dexter Fowler (Rockies): 1.9
3. Justin Upton (Braves): 1.9
4. Yu Darvish (Rangers): 1.8
5. Carlos Gomez (Brewers): 1.7
6. Anibal Sanchez (Tigers): 1.7
7. Justin Verlander (Tigers): 1.6
8. Chris Davis (Orioles): 1.6
9. Shin-Soo Choo (Reds): 1.5
10. Jean Segura (Brewers): 1.5

– fWAR, on the other hand, isn’t so fond of Harvey’s unsustainable hit rate. It places him seventh among SPs so far. The Tigers claim three of the top five spots on their pitching list, with Max Scherzer trailing Sanchez and Verlander.

Pitchers by ERA

1. Jake Westbrook (Cardinals): 0.98
2. Matt Moore (Rays): 1.13
3. Clay Buchholz (Red Sox): 1.19
4. Anibal Sanchez (Tigers): 1.34
5. Madison Bumgarner (Giants): 1.55
6. Matt Harvey (Mets): 1.56
7. Hisashi Iwakuma (Mariners): 1.67
8. Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers): 1.73
9. Mat Latos (Reds): 1.83
9. Justin Verlander (Tigers): 1.83

– With just as many walks as strikeouts this year, Westbrook is merely fWAR’s 65th ranked pitcher, despite the sub-1.00 ERA. He’s also hurt by the fact that he made only four starts in April, throwing 27 2/3 innings. Everyone in the top 50 made five or six starts.

Teams by winning percentage

1. Red Sox: .692 (18-8)
2. Braves: .654 (17-9)
2. Rangers: .654 (17-9)
4. Yankees: .615 (16-10)
5. Tigers: .600 (15-10)
6. Orioles: .593 (16-11)
6. Rockies: .593 (16-11)
8. Royals: .583 (14-10)
9. Cardinals: .577 (15-11)
10. Athletics: .571 (16-12)

– There are seven AL teams in the top 10, but those are the only seven AL teams over .480 for the season. NL teams take all of the spots from No. 11-17 here.

Teams by run differential

1. Red Sox: +38 (18-8)
2. Rangers: +32 (17-9)
3. Braves: +31 (17-9)
4. Tigers: +27 (15-10)
5. Orioles: +26 (16-11)
6. Rockies: +25 (16-11)
7. Cardinals: +24 (15-11)
8. Reds: +24 (15-13)
9. Athletics: +21 (16-12)
10. Diamondbacks: +16 (15-12)

– In a major surprise, the A’s lead the majors with 158 runs scored, 17 more than the Rockies and 20 more than the Orioles. They’re 27th in runs allowed, however. The Red Sox are fourth in runs scored with 135 and fifth in runs allowed with 97. The Braves have allowed the fewest runs (83).

Max Scherzer still can’t throw fastballs

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 13: Max Scherzer #31 of the Washington Nationals works against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the fifth inning during game five of the National League Division Series at Nationals Park on October 13, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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The Nationals will be many people’s favorites in the NL East this season. Not everything is looking great, however. For example, their ace — defending NL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer — can’t even throw fastballs right now.

The reason: the stress fracture he suffered last August is still causing him problems and Scherzer is unable to use his fastball grip without feeling pain in his right ring finger. He will throw a bullpen session tomorrow, but will only use his secondary stuff.

Scherzer has not been ruled out for Opening Day — the fact that he is throwing some means that his timetable isn’t totally on hold — but you have to figure, at some point, not being able to air things out and use his heater will lead to some problems in his spring training routine.

The Dodgers asked the Tigers about Justin Verlander this offseason

DETROIT, MI - MAY 18: Justin Verlander #35 of the Detroit Tigers pitches during the first inning of the game against the Minnesota Twins on May 18, 2016 at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
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File this under “man, that would’ve been cool.” Or, if you’re a Tigers fan, file it under “man, that would’ve signaled several years of misery.” However you fall on the matter, however, know that, according to Jon Heyman, the Dodgers inquired about trading for Justin Verlander over the winter.

It never went anywhere, but it’s not like it was silliness for the Dodgers to ask. As you may recall, the Tigers were reported to be willing to listen to offers on any and all players back in November, as GM Al Avila contemplated a tear-down. That never came to pass — the Tigers had a quiet offseason and are keeping the team together to make another run at the playoffs with the Verlander/Miguel Cabrera core — but it couldn’t hurt to ask.

Verlander, who is coming off a resurgent season which saw him return to form as one of baseball’s best pitchers, has 10-5 rights, allowing him to veto any trade. He’s married to an actress/model, however, owns a home in L.A., and the Dodgers are a clear contender, so there’s a good chance he would’ve allowed such a trade to happen. Heck, dude even loves pitchers batting, so a chance to do it all the time would be right up his alley.

The bigger issue likely would’ve been Verlander’s $28 million salary. The Dodgers already pay the luxury tax so taking on that commitment would cost them more than the sticker price. And, of course, if the Tigers are going to ever give up one of the best players in franchise history, it would take the motherlode of prospects to do it.

So, no, a Verlander-to-L.A. trade wasn’t ever a strong possibility. But even the slight possibility seems exciting in hindsight. It was a boring as hell offseason.