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).

Report: Jose Ramirez close to four-year extension with Indians

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Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan reports that third baseman Jose Ramirez is finalizing a four-year extension with the Indians. The deal is said to be worth north of $30 million, and may crest $50 million if all options are exercised. While the extension won’t take effect until the 2018 season, it guarantees Ramirez a $26 million sum with two options worth $11 and $13 million and will give the Indians control of the infielder through the 2023 season.

Ramirez, 24, is entering his fifth season in the Indians’ organization. He posted career-high numbers during his first full season in the majors, slashing .312/.363/.461 with 11 home runs, 22 stolen bases and 4.8 fWAR in 2016. He’s projected to have a strong follow-up season at the plate and will likely see some time at second base as Jason Kipnis works his way back from a shoulder injury.

Although 2016 only showcased the beginning of Ramirez’s success with the club, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman says it’s a standard move for Cleveland to “sign their stars early,” and indicates that Ramirez was rumored to want the deal. Jeff Todd of MLB Trade Rumors adds that the extension will keep Ramirez under club control through three arbitration-eligible years and one year of potential free agency.

Diamondbacks return Rule 5 pick Tyler Jones to Yankees

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Diamondbacks’ right-hander Tyler Jones is headed back to the Yankees, the teams announced on Friday. The Diamondbacks had previously selected Jones in the Rule 5 draft last December, but elected to leave the 27-year-old off of their 40-man roster heading into the 2017 season. Rule 5 draft rules stipulate that when a player is not kept on the receiving team’s roster, the player must be offered back to his original team.

Jones signed a minor league contract with the Yankees prior to the 2016 season. He pitched to an impressive 2.17 ERA, 2.2 BB/9 and 13.2 SO/9 over 45 2/3 innings with Double-A Trenton, but was unable to make the leap to Triple-A or beyond during his stay with the organization.

Jones’ outlook with the Diamondbacks appeared slightly more promising. GM Mike Hazen described the righty as a power arm with a “good fastball and power curveball” after selecting him in the Rule 5 draft, and early reports indicated that Jones would be in the mix for a bullpen spot. A rough spring performance — underscored by his lack of experience at the Triple-A and major league levels — undid most of that confidence, however, and the Diamondbacks weren’t willing to keep him on the active roster throughout the entire 2017 season in order to acquire his control rights.

Jones is set to open the season with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, per a report from the Yankees.