American League Players of the Month: April 2024

The Just Baseball staff awards gold, silver, and bronze medals to the best performers from around the AL over the first month of the season.

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - APRIL 25: Jose Altuve #27 of the Houston Astros runs the bases after a single by Alex Bregman #2 (not pictured) against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning at Wrigley Field on April 25, 2024 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

We’re a month into the 2024 season and baseball has been full of surprises so far, especially in the American League. The AL East is the most competitive division in the league, the Royals are … good? and the Astros, annual World Series contenders, can’t get out of their own way and are last in the AL West.

While very little can be “won” in the first month of the season, plenty can be lost. Teams off to slow starts can have serious troubles clawing their way back into contention and players battling through a painful 0-fer may never see their stat lines properly bounce-back.

Last year, Shohei Ohtani, the eventual AL MVP, came out of the gates firing on all cylinders and never had to worry about bouncing back as the year went on. In 28 games, he had hit seven home runs with 18 RBI, a .897 OPS and 144 OPS+. He was a clear MVP favorite and stayed that way throughout the year. Now that he’s on the Dodgers, it’s time for somebody new to claim the throne.

Here at Just Baseball, our editorial staff selected AL pitchers and position players who stood out above the rest throughout the first month of the new campaign. It remains to be seen if this well above-average level of play will continue for them as the year goes on, but they deserve credit for standout performances out of the gate.

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Let’s get into it.

AL Hitters of the Month

Gold Medal Hitter of the Month: Jose Altuve, HOU

March/April stats: 133 PA, 7 HR, 9 RBI, 22 R, .345/.414/.597, 4 SB, 1.8 fWAR

It feels like Jose Altuve, who’s still only 33-years old, has been around forever. He’s 14 years into what should easily be a Hall of Fame career and somehow he’s only getting better at the plate.

Altuve, an eight-time All-Star, is tied with Juan Soto for the AL lead with a 190 OPS+ and while his RBI count is a bit low, he’s been an immensely productive player. He’s on pace to set career-highs in multiple offensive categories and should be a huge part of the Astros’ turnaround if they ever kick it into gear.

Silver Medal Hitter of the Month: Juan Soto, NYY

March/April stats: 144 PA, 8 HR, 25 RBI, 22 R, .325/.438/.581, 2 SB, 2.1 fWAR

Juan Soto is in what could be his only season as a member of the Yankees, but he’s started it off on the right foot. He leads the majors in walks, leads the AL in OBP and has appeared in every game so far. Frankly, it was extremely difficult to pick between him and Altuve for top spot.

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Soto, 25, is a pending free agent and is well on his way to one of the largest free agent contracts in MLB history. It’s no surprise that he’s performing well in New York, but he’s on pace for the best season of his already historic career. Him and Altuve are neck and neck for the early MVP favorites.

Bronze Medal Hitter of the Month: Gunnar Henderson, BAL

March/April stats: 132 PA, 10 HR, 24 RBI, 25 R, .291/.356/.624, 6 SB, 2.2 fWAR

Gunnar Henderson is out to prove that sophomore slumps aren’t real. He leads the majors with 10 home runs and currently tops the AL in runs scored and total bases. He easily won the Rookie of the Year Award last year but is looking to add to his trophy case already with an MVP-caliber showing so far.

Henderson is part of the one of the most dangerous lineups in the game. The 22-year-old is constantly in run-producing situations and has been exceptional on defense, too. I mean, just look at these Savant percentiles.

Just Missed the Podium: Tyler O’Neill, BOS

March/April stats: 90 PA, 9 HR, 12 RBI, 20 R, .320/.433/.693, 1 SB, 1.2 fWAR

Another player traded over this past offseason, Tyler O’Neill has taken to his new team nicely. As a matter of fact, he enters the day with the best SLG in baseball and the AL’s best OPS. He’s lacking the games and plate appearances that others do on this list, but we’re looking at an All-Star candidate here if he keeps this production up.

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Just Missed the Podium: Colton Cowser, BAL

March/April stats: 86 PA, 6 HR, 18 RBI, 12 R, .303/.372/.632, 3 SB, 1.4 fWAR

Colton Cowser gives the Orioles yet another star-in-the-making under 25-years of age. Cowser, like O’Neill, doesn’t quite have the sample size of others on the list, but he’s close. The year over year improvement from Cowser is ridiculous, too, as he’s now made around the exact same amount of appearances this year that he did last year. Just look at the difference:

AL Pitchers of the Month

Gold Medal Pitcher of the Month: Tanner Houck, BOS

March/April stats: 3-2 (6 GS), 1.60 ERA, 39.1 IP, 47 K, 9 BB, 1.4 fWAR

Tanner Houck, 27, has been in the league for parts of five years but hasn’t settled into a full-time starter role until this year. He made 21 starts last season but finished with a 92 ERA+ and wasn’t quite the pitcher the Red Sox knew he could be.

This year, he has come out of the gates stronger than ever, posting quality starts in five of his six appearances. The right-hander also has the best FIP in baseball (2.02) and has the AL’s second-best SIERA (2.66) behind Jack Flaherty. Not to mention the fact that Houck has dramatically cut back on hits, home runs and free passes compared to years past, which has led to quite the turnaround from last year to this one.

Silver Medal Pitcher of the Month: Tarik Skubal, DET

March/April stats: 4-0 (6 GS), 1.72 ERA, 36.2 IP, 41 K, 6 BB, 1.2 fWAR

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Tarik Skubal is intimately familiar with what it is to be successful in the big leagues. Dating back to 2022, his ERA is 2.99 and FIP 2.51 with a 137 ERA+. The 27-year-old has the best WHIP in the AL (0.736) and wOBA (.198) and has excelled at limiting hard contact to open the year.

Skubal, 27, leans heavily on his four-seam fastball that currently sits in the 99th percentile in Run Value. He’s got a total of five pitches he primarily uses and all five of them have a .200 or lower opponent batting average. Skubal has been filthy and has been a major part of the Tigers 16-12 start.

Bronze Medal Pitcher of the Month: Jose Berrios, TOR

March/April stats: 4-2 (7 GS), 1.44 ERA, 43.2 IP, 31 K, 13 BB, 0.6 fWAR

Jose Berrios and his miniscule ERA earned him a spot on the podium. The nine-year veteran has money through his first seven starts this year, currently second in the AL and fourth in baseball with that 1.44 ERA. He anchors a Blue Jays pitching staff that desperately needs to remain healthy, but his place on the podium may not be a permanent one.

A look at Berrios’s Savant page suggests that he’s been much more lucky than good. He plays with one of the best defensive units in baseball behind him, so virtually nothing gets past his outfielders.

It’s good that they’re there, though, as Berrios sits in the 5th percentile in Hard Hit % and 8th in Avg Exit Velocity. Opponents seem to be squaring him up well, but he’s still keeping the ball in the ballpark, which is just enough for Daulton Varsho, George Springer and Kevin Kiermaier to reel it in.

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Just Missed the Podium: Kutter Crawford, BOS

March/April stats: 1-1 (6 GS), 1.35 ERA, 33.1 IP, 34 K, 11 BB, 1.4 fWAR

In over 33 innings of work this year, Kutter Crawford still has not allowed a single home run. The right-hander, along with Houck, has seriously turned things around this season and is red-hot.

Crawford, 28, is fourth in the AL in FIP and FIP- while ranking in the 82nd percentile or higher in xERA, xBA, Avg Exit Velo and Hard Hit %. If he keeps his current run up, it’ll be him sneaking onto the podium with that bronze medal in no time.

Just Missed the Podium: Ronel Blanco, HOU

March/April stats: 3-0 (5 GS), 1.65 ERA, 32.2 IP, 30 K, 14 BB, 0.6 fWAR

If nothing else, Ronel Blanco has emerged as one of the top feel-good stories in the game this year. At 30-years old, he utterly dominated the Blue Jays, throwing the league’s first no-hitter of the year back on the 1st of April.

All five of Blanco’s starts so far have been quality ones, and he’s done an excellent job of proving the naysayers wrong. That no-no doesn’t feel like a fluke anymore, as he’s still maintained that mid 1.00s ERA and has found himself ranking amongst the best in the league in Run Value on his offspeed pitches, Barrel % and Hard Hit %.

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