MLB, Cleveland Indians news: The Best of April

Jason Miller

The season's first month, a look at the best of MLB and franchise history

This is a day late, but I thought it'd be interesting to take a look back at the Tribe's April and how certain facets compare with previous Aprils throughout franchise and MLB history.

The Indians wrapped up the month at 11-13, putting them in 4th place, but only 3.5 games back. The Indians' best ever record through the end of April came in 1948, when they were 6-0. If you're looking for seasons in which they played more games this early, for 10+ games they went 10-1 in 1966, for 15+ games they went 12-3 in 1941, and for 20+ games they went 16-6 in 1988 and 1999. On the opposite end of things, the Indians' worst ever record for the through the end of April came in 1969, when they went just 2-15 in 1969. They also finished April at 2-7 in 1945, 3-9 in 1914, and 7-20 in 2003.

Indians' March/April record for seasons in which they made the postseason:

Year

Record through 4/30

Standings

2007

14-8

1st place, 1.5 up

2001

14-9

3rd place, 3.5 back

1999

16-6

1st place, 4 up

1998

14-12

1st place, 2.5 up

1997

12-13

2nd place, 1 back

1996

16-8

1st place, 1.5 up

1995

2-2*

2nd place, 1 back

1954

6-6

4th place, 2 back

1948

6-0

1st place, 1.5 up

1920

8-3

3rd place, 1.5 back

Other Tribe statistics/AL ranks for April:

Starting Rotation:

5.09 ERA (11th), .247 BA (6th), .272 BABIP (1st), 7.24 K/9 (8th), 3.89 BB/9 (13th), 1.54 HR/9 (15th)

Bullpen:

2.82 ERA (4th), .206 BA (2nd), .256 BABIP (2nd), 9.63 K/9 (4th), 3.40 BB/9 (7th), 1.06 HR/9 (10th)

The bullpen looks good, the rotation, not so much (but you already knew that). It's worth noting that such low BABIP figures are not sustainable, so if the pitching is to maintain its current mediocre production (much less improve), it's going to need some gains in other areas (keeping the ball in the park would be a good start).

Justin Masterson led the Indians with a 3.12 ERA (Zach McAllister was not far behind, at 3.30) and 39 strikeouts for the month. The following chart lists the top five Aprils in MLB for ERA (minimum 30 IP) and strikeouts (all stats date to 1916):

MLB April ERA

MLB April Strikeouts

Fernando Valenzuela (1981) - 0.20

Curt Schilling (1998) - 65

Fernando Valenzuela (1985) - 0.21

Randy Johnson (2000) - 64

Ray Sadecki (1968) - 0.25

Randy Johnson (1999) - 63

Roger Clemens (1991) - 0.28

Randy Johnson (2001) - 61

Jesse Petty (1926) - 0.47

Randy Johnson (2002) - 61

Curt Schilling (2002) - 61

And for just the Indians:

Indians April ERA

Indians April Strikeouts

Ed Klepfer (1916) - 0.73

Gaylord Perry (1975) - 44

Cliff Lee (2008) - 0.96

Chuck Finley (2000) - 42

Clint Brown (1933) - 1.03

Sam McDowell (1970) - 40

Stan Coveleski (1923) - 1.27

Bartolo Colon (2001) - 40

Bob Feller (1946) - 1.46

Bob Feller (1946) - 39

Sam McDowell (1967) - 39

Justin Masterson (2013) - 39

Hitting:

.265 BA (4th), .333 OBP (4th), .465 SLG (1st), 122 OPS+ (1st), 36 HR (t-1st)

The Tribe offense has also been incredibly hit or miss/feast or famine. They scored 8 or more runs seven times in April already second most in the American League, but they also scored 2 or fewer runs ten times, also second-most in the league. Over 162 games, that'd work out to 8 or more runs 47 times and 2 or fewer runs 68 times. Since 1916, 34 AL teams have scored 8 or more runs at least 47 times and 47 AL teams have scored 2 or fewer at least 68 times. No team has ever done both. If you adjust for a shorter schedule from before 1961 and lower the thresholds, you still don't find any team that meets both criteria.

If you couldn't follow all that, the short of it is no American League team has ever had so many games on both extremes of the scoring spectrum.

The Indians hit 36 home runs, their second-highest total for April in team history (the '97 Indians hit 49 home runs in April!).

Carlos Santana and Mark Reynolds led the way for the Indians offense in April. Santana especially had a fantastic month, with a strong case for AL Player of the Month. Here are the MLB and Indian leaders for April in a variety of offensive categories (minimum of 75 PA for all rate stats):

Batting Average

MLB Leaders

Indians Leaders

Barry Bonds (2004) - .472

Ronnie Belliard (2004) - .417

Pete Rose (1976) - .466

Buddy Bell (1978) - .408

Goose Goslin (1926) - .463

Julio Franco (1985) - .403

Larry Walker (1997) - .456

Pete O'Brien (1989) - .400

Tony Perez (1970) - .

Victor Martinez (2006) - .398

Ronnie Belliard? Ronnie Belliard.

April stats are going to be skewed towards the more recent years in baseball history, because until the late 1960s the season didn't begin until mid to late April, giving players fewer games to compile counting stats or qualify for rate stats. In 1959, Hank Aaron hit .508 in April, in 64 PA, if you drop the threshold to 50+ PA, the leader is Bob Fothergill in 1927, who hit .542 that April. The Tribe leader at the 50+ PA cutoff is Charlie Jamieson, who hit .477 in April of 1929.

On-Base Percentage

MLB Leaders

Indians Leaders

Barry Bonds (2004) - .696

David Justice (1997) - .509

Barry Bonds (2002) - .600

Jim Thome (1997) - .505

Tony Perez (1970) - .558

Ronnie Belliard (2004) - .500

Jason Giambi (2006) - .554

Andre Thornton (1983) - .494

Barry Bonds (1993) - .553

Jim Thome (1996) - .484

Dropping the cutoff to 50 PA does nothing to push Bonds' 2004 season down this list, because holy shit, a .696 OBP! (Sorry about the profanity, but I don't know how else to respond to that kind of figure)

Slugging Percentage

MLB Leaders

Indians Leaders

Barry Bonds (2004) - 1.132

Sandy Alomar (1997) - .787

Albert Pujols (2006) - .914

Juan Gonzalez (2001) - .753

Larry Walker (1997) - .911

David Justice (1997) - .747

Matt Kemp (2012) - .893

Carlos Santana (2013) - .722

Ron Cey (1977) - .890

Albert Belle (1996) - .703

The Indians were really hitting the ball in April of 1997, weren't they? Also, I did not expect to see Ron Cey's name come up.

OPS

MLB Leaders

Indians Leaders

Barry Bonds (2004) - 1.828

David Justice (1997) - 1.256

Larry Walker (1997) - 1.449

Sandy Alomar (1997) - 1.212

Barry Bonds (1993) - 1.442

Carlos Santana (2013) - 1.198

Ron Cey (1977) - 1.433

Toby Harrah (1982) - 1.172

Tony Perez (1970) - 1.428

Juan Gonzalez (2001) - 1.169

I don't care if Barry Bonds was shooting the essence of baby rhinoceroses into his bloodstream before every game, the numbers he put up at dawn of this century are staggering. His BA would have been a great OBP, his OBP would have been a great SLG%, his SLG% would have been a great OPS, and his OPS doesn't look like an actual baseball figure (unless it's Ubaldo's WHIP).

And there's Carlos, with one of the greatest April's in Indians history.

I'll drop some of the all-time MLB and Tribe leaders for some counting stats into the comments as the day goes along.

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