MLB's first month offered up some exciting, surprising statistical gems

With one month in the books, we thought we’d take a look at some of our favorite numbers — good and bad — from the first month of the season.

Anthony Rendon put an impressive cap on what was a pretty wild first month of the season, going 6-for-6 with three homers and 10 RBIs on April 30 in the Nationals’ 23-5 victory over the Mets. Not bad, especially when considering Rendon had zero homers and only five RBIs in his first 22 games of the 2017 season.

Baseball numbers are just the best, aren’t they?

With one month in the books, we thought we’d take a look at some of our favorite numbers — good and bad — from the first month of the season.

— It hardly seems possible that a guy hitting .420 with a 1.385 OPS, 11 homers and 29 RBIs could be overlooked, but Ryan Zimmerman has been overlooked through the first month of the season. Zimmerman isn’t the only Nationals player producing at an All-Star level (hi, Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy and Max Scherzer!), which means he kind of gets lost in the shuffle. That’s a shame, because his bounce-back story is impressive. His past three seasons have been a washout of injuries and struggles — he averaged only 90 games a year and produced a minus-1.1 WAR in 2016 — and it wasn’t crazy to wonder whether, at 32 years old, his time with the franchise was nearing an end. Um, nope.

— And we have to mention Jason Heyward here, too. He was awful at the plate in 2016, his first after signing a deal for $184 million with the Cubs. Heyward isn’t closer to matching Zimmerman, but he’s hitting .279 with a .747 OPS and has 16 RBIs in 23 games. That’s much better than the .230/.306/.325 slash line he put up last season (and that doesn’t count batting .104 in 16 postseason games). Will he keep it up? We’ll find out.

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— Greg Bird was a world-beater this spring, blasting eight home runs and hitting .451 in 23 games for the Yankees. That hasn’t translated into the regular season. Bird is batting .107 with only four extra-base hits (one homer) in 18 games. Yikes.

— Bird is not the only New Yorker who has forgotten how to hit. Over in Queens, Curtis Granderson ended the month with a .128 batting average and .395 OPS, with 21 strikeouts and only five walks. Teammate Jose Reyes hasn’t been much better, managing just a .174 average.

— Rockies lefty Tyler Anderson has MLB’s worst ERA (among qualified pitchers), with an ugly 7.71 mark after he posted a 3.54 ERA in 19 starts last year as a rookie. And it’s not just a Coors Field thing, either; four of his six starts have been on the road and seven of the nine homers he’s allowed have been away from Denver. Only Jered Weaver has given up more home runs (10).

— Twins veteran Ervin Santana leads the bigs with a 0.77 ERA, thanks in large part to opponents batting just .129 on balls in play (that is, by far, the lowest for any qualified starter in baseball). His strikeout-to-walk ratio of 2.60 is right at his career average (2.56).

— The worst opponent’s BABIP? That belongs to unfortunate Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright; opponents are hitting .439 against Waino when they put the ball in play. His ERA is 6.12, which obviously is much worse than Santana’s, but check this out: Santana’s FIP (fielding-independent pitching) is 3.14, just a shade better than Wainwright’s 3.34. Expect both extremes to normalize as the season rolls on.

This. Mike Trout is really good.

— Ivan Nova leads MLB in strikeout-to-walk ratio (22.0). You probably knew that. On the other end of the spectrum, though, is Rays lefty Blake Snell, who has 18 strikeouts and 18 walks.

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— You know Eric Thames is popping homers almost every night. He does more than that, though. These are all very small sample sizes, of course, because we’re only a month in, but Thames is batting .400 with runners on base, .429 with two outs and runners in scoring position and .435 when he comes to the plate in a tie game. He’s hitting .323 vs. right-handed pitchers and .421 against lefties. He’s batting .452 on the road, with six of his 11 homers away from Milwaukee.

— A total of 17 qualified starters are averaging at least 10 strikeouts per nine innings, a list topped by Cleveland’s Danny Salazar, at 13.0 per nine. The most surprising name on the list has to be Baltimore’s Wade Miley. In nearly 1,000 career MLB innings heading into this season, the lefty averaged 7.1 strikeouts per nine; through five starts this year he’s at 11.0. Go figure.

— Chris Owings leads all qualified hitters with a .524 average with runners in scoring position; he has 15 RBIs in 23 such plate appearances. Owings is batting .231 with the bases empty.

— Of the 105 starters who have thrown enough innings to qualify for the ERA title at the moment, only three have yet to allow a home run — Mike Leake (1.35 ERA), James Paxton (1.39) and Noah Syndergaard (3.29).

— There are 41 relievers who finished April with a 0.00 ERA, including seven who have thrown at last 10 innings. That group includes a couple of familiar names — Andrew Miller and Wade Davis — but no one has thrown more scoreless innings than White Sox right-hander Anthony Swarzak, the 31-year-old who has struck out 14 and allowed only four base-runners (three hits, one walk) in 12 1/3 innings.

— Is this finally Avisail Garcia’s breakthrough season? White Sox fans have been hoping to see the talented youngster tap into his potential for a while now, but he hadn’t been able to find much in the way of consistency — he had a .250/.308/.380 slash line from 2014-16. Garcia was outstanding in April, though, leading the AL with a .368 average while driving in 20 and producing a 1.029 OPS.

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