Hardball High Week 4: The all-stars of April

Hardball High

Hardball High

Well, class, April is officially in the books. And some players did better than others. Much, much better. At this point, success in your league could be contributed to a lot of things. Maybe you’ve been diligently streaming your pitchers, picking up clutch categories in Wins and K’s. Maybe you put together a nice dossier of trades, fleshing out your team into something truly fearsome. But the most likely scenario is that you’ve been riding the success of a few key individuals thus far into the season. As we take a look back at April, let’s highlight the best of the best from the first full month of baseball, as well as their future draft value:

Fantasy Baseball

Charlie Blackmon has been the steal of the season so far.

1. Charlie Blackmon, COL OF: If you called that by the end of the first month of baseball, Charlie Blackmon would be the best player on the ESPN player rater, you should have bet on it because the odds would have to be at least 50,000 to one. And while his .400-plus batting average was clearly unsustainable, regressing to something like .330 is entirely possible, based on his (half-season) career stats. The real surprise here is the power hitting; if Blackmon can continue to put up huge numbers in Runs, RBIs, and HRs, he could have some real value coming into next season. Next year’s draft position: As early as round two.

2. Adrian Gonzalez, LAD 1B: As Adrian’s power stroke has returned, Fantasy owners have been reaping the rewards. Gonzalez was a solid first baseman last year but looks to exceed those numbers, as A-Gone currently boasts an outstanding 1.043 average to go along with 9 homers and a .321 average. His average is likely to go down closer to his career numbers of around .300, and although he is on pace for 50 home runs (highly, highly unlikely), somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 is quite doable. The only thing holding him back? His age, as he’ll be 33 in 2015. Next year’s draft position: Somewhere in the third round.

3. Jose Abreu, CWS 1B: If you follow baseball, doubtless you know about the torrid start that White Sox rookie Jose Abreu has been on, setting the all-time rookie record for HRs and RBIs in a month in his first month in the big leagues, with 10 and 32 respectively. Those who took a flier on this highly touted Cuban-league star have been reaping the rewards. The crazy thing is that we’ve only seen a month of Abreu in the big leagues. As pitchers start to figure him out, he’ll start to figure them out as well. Abreu could very well continue to put up, if not identical numbers, then very similar ones for the rest of the season. Next year’s draft position: As early as the second round.

Fantasy Baseball

Troy Tulowitzki is producing as advertised: healthy and raking.

4. Troy Tulowitzki, COL SS: The perennially injured Tulowitzki has stayed healthy so far this season, and in the process has put up some bananas numbers. The best offensive SS in baseball currently leads the major leagues with a towering 1.207 OPS. Little needs to be said that hasn’t been said before; Tulo is, at 29, entering the prime of his career, and if he can stay well rested and healthy, he’ll be a prominent player in the league for years to come. Next year’s draft position: Solidly first round.

5. Adam Wainwright, STL SP: The only pitcher in the top five on the player rater, Wainwright has had (as of writing this) given up six runs in six starts, with a sub-one WHIP. While we’re still all waiting for the inevitable bad game from Wainwright, there’s no reason why Wainwright shouldn’t put up numbers similar, if not a little better, than his 2013 Cy Young runner-up season. Next year’s draft position: Late second to early third round.

If you missed last week’s Hardball High, click here to catch up.

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