Thursday, May 2, 2013

AB4AR "Best Of The Month" Awards: April 2013

There's no other way to describe the Yankees' opening month of the 2013 season than to call it a rousing success.  Despite missing almost the entirety of the middle of their batting order and their Hall of Fame starting shortstop, they finished with a 16-10 record and found themselves 2nd in what was supposed to be a very competitive AL East.  There were a bounty of big moments and great performances in April, but it wasn't all that hard to pick out the biggest and the best.  After the jump, check out the award winners for the April 2013 AB4AR "Best of the Month" awards.

Player of the Month- Robinson Cano

New guys Wells and Hafner both had great months, but this group was always going to go as far as Robbie Cano carried them and he carried that load just fine in April.  Cano played every inning of every game last month, and led the team in hits (35), runs (18), doubles (8), home runs (7), RBI (17), batting average (.327),  and fWAR (1.3).  He was second in OBP (.379), SLG (.598), wOBA (.413), and wRC+ (159) behind Hafner, but the fact that he did it playing the field and playing error-less defense in the field makes Cano the runaway winner of the first Player of the Month for 2013.

Pitcher of the Month- Hiroki Kuroda

It was a close race between CC Sabathia and Kuroda, but Hirok edges the big fella out based on a better tripleslash and comparable K/BB rates.  While CC did pitch 7 more innings than Kuroda in his 6 starts, part of that is due to Kuroda leaving his first start of the season after just 1.1 innings.  Since that game, Kuroda has been lights out, allowing just 7 ER in 34.2 IP (1.82 ERA) over his last 5 starts with 29 K/10 BB.  He was really good at limiting damage (83.3% strand rate) and keeping the ball down, and there's reason to expect that Kuroda still hasn't peaked based on his BB rate.  A 2.25/3.16/3.71 line when you had finger problems and weren't pitching your best is more than worthy of the first award IMO.

Play of the Month- 4-6-5-6-5-3-4 Triple Play vs.Baltimore- 4/12

(Courtesy of Gold And Or Smith)

Triple plays are always one of the coolest plays in baseball no matter how they happen, and the way this one went down made it even better.  Just a ton of heads up plays by all parties involved, starting with Jayson Nix throwing behind the runner heading to third after making the first out and ending with a great exchange from Kevin Youkilis to Lyle Overbay to Robinson Cano to get the final out.  In between was a perfectly-executed rundown by Youkilis and Nix to get the second out, and everybody deserves credit for staying with the play and being in the right spots to capitalize on the Orioles' horrible baserunning.  The fact that this play happened to end the 8th inning after the first 2 batters of the inning got on base makes it even better.

Game of the Month (Individual)- Robbie Cano Goes 3-4 w/ 1 2B, 2 HR, 4 R, 2 RBI, 1 BB vs. Cleveland- 4/8

After the team's and his own slow start to the season, Robbie finally broke out against the Indians on April 8th and he broke out in a big way with this game.  I commented on how quickly Cano seemed to go from ice cold to scorching hot in this game, and he did it in a matter of a few at-bats.  This was one of those games where you just sit back and marvel at how good Cano is at baseball, and there was nothing that the opposing Indian pitchers could do except tip their cap to him on this day.  He hit everything hard, he hit the ball to all fields, and he didn't chase the pitches he didn't like.  A pure master's course in hitting.

Game of the Month (Team)- 14-1 Victory on the road over Cleveland- 4/9

If Robbie's big game the day before was his breakout and the start of a great month, the next day's game was that same breakout for the team.  The Yankee absolutely pounded the Indians into submission on that day offensively and Andy Pettitte supplemented it with a stellar 1-run outing.  14 runs on 18 hits, 6 of them doubles and 5 of them HR.  Brett Gardner and Robbie Cano combined for 8 hits, 5 R, and 7 RBI at the top of the order, Overbay and Francisco Cervelli combined for 5 hits and 5 R at the bottom, and almost everybody contributed something.  It was the most complete game the Yanks have played to date and it really kickstarted the 16-6 run they're still in.

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