National League Players of the Month: April 2024

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

J.T. Realmuto #10 of the Philadelphia Phillies and Ranger Suarez #55 embrace after the game against the Colorado Rockies at Citizens Bank Park on April 16, 2024 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Phillies defeated the Rockies 5-0.
PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - APRIL 16: J.T. Realmuto #10 of the Philadelphia Phillies and Ranger Suarez #55 embrace after the game against the Colorado Rockies at Citizens Bank Park on April 16, 2024 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Phillies defeated the Rockies 5-0. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

One month into the 2023 season, Ronald Acuña Jr. was slashing .352/.440/.546. He led the National League in stolen bases, runs scored, and multi-hit games. He ranked second in batting average, on-base percentage, wRC+, and FanGraphs WAR. To the surprise of no one, he was named NL Player of the Month for April.

Acuña would win two more Player of the Month Awards that season. He was the NL’s leading vote-getter at the All-Star Game. In November, he was unanimously chosen as the NL MVP.

Sometimes, the first month of the season tells you everything you need to know.

Other times? Well, just ask Matt Chapman. The third baseman was hands-down the best player in baseball over the first month of the 2023 season, slashing .384/.465/.687 en route to AL Player of the Month honors. He hit just .205 with a .659 OPS and 84 wRC+ over the rest of the year.

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Without further delay, here are the Just Baseball editorial staff’s picks for the NL players and pitchers of the month in April. Whether these players maintain their hot starts like Acuña or fall off the pace like Chapman, they deserve recognition for their dominant performances over the first month of the 2024 MLB season.

NL Hitters of the Month

Gold Medal Hitter of the Month: Mookie Betts, LAD

March/April stats: 151 PA, 6 HR, 29 R, 23 RBI, .368/.477/.624, 8 SB, 2.8 fWAR

Mookie Betts hit the first home run of the 2024 season, and he hasn’t slowed down for even a minute. He currently leads the major leagues in batting average, on-base percentage, wRC+, and FanGraphs WAR.

Betts is also 8-for-8 in stolen base attempts, and he is holding his own in his first season as a primary shortstop. The seven-time All-Star is the true definition of a five-tool talent, and there was simply no other choice for the NL Gold Medal Player of the Month.

Silver Medal Hitter of the Month: Marcell Ozuna, ATL

March/April stats: 120 PA, 9 HR, 20 R, 31 RBI, .327/.400/.636, 0 SB, 1.3 fWAR

Marcell Ozuna leads the Senior Circuit in home runs, RBI, and slugging percentage, while ranking third in OPS and wRC+. His 18.3% strikeout rate is the lowest it has been in years, and his .474 xwOBA (second in the NL) is a career-high.

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At 33 years old, Ozuna looks like the version of himself that led the NL in home runs and RBI in 2020 en route to a sixth-place finish for NL MVP. As a slow-moving DH, he’ll have to keep slugging if he wants to stay in the MVP conversation this season, but there is no denying he has been one of the best playing in the league so far.

Bronze Medal Hitter of the Month: Alec Bohm, PHI

March/April stats: 128 PA, 4 HR, 15 R, 30 RBI, .366/.438/.598, 1 SB, 1.9 fWAR

Alec Bohm has been the most electric player in baseball over the past three weeks. The Phillies third baseman hit his first home run of the season on April 11, and since that day, he has led Major League Baseball in all three triple-slash categories and FanGraphs WAR.

On the month, Bohm ranks second in the NL in batting average, on-base percentage, RBI, and fWAR. He might not be able to maintain these numbers all season, but his contact skills are truly elite and his new-and-improved plate discipline (11.7% walk rate) is a promising development.

If he can hold onto his newfound power stroke (.232 ISO), Bohm will be a good candidate to make his first All-Star team this summer.

Just Missed the Podium: Elly De La Cruz, CIN

March/April stats: 122 PA, 8 HR, 27 R, 19 RBI, .279/.385/.577, 18 SB, 1.7 fWAR

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Just Baseball’s former No. 1 prospect is officially breaking out after an up-and-down rookie season.

Elly De La Cruz still strikes out a ton, but he’s making it work with more walks and elite power. He ranks tenth in the NL in walk rate (13.9%) and third in isolated power (.298) to go along with an MLB-leading 18 stolen bases in 21 attempts.

Oh, and have you seen his cannon at shortstop?

NL Pitchers of the Month

Gold Medal Pitcher of the Month: Ranger Suárez, PHI

March/April stats: 5-0 (6 GS), 1.32 ERA, 41.0 IP, 40 K, 5 BB, 1.3 fWAR

Where did this version of Ranger Suárez come from? The 28-year-old blossomed into a solid mid-rotation starter for the Phillies from 2021-23, but he has reached a whole new level in 2024. The southpaw leads the NL with a 1.32 ERA, and the underlying numbers back it up; he also leads the league in xERA, xFIP, and SIERA.

While his 8.78 K/9 is pedestrian, Suarez is walking just 1.10 batters per nine innings, the lowest rate among qualified NL starters. He is also inducing groundballs at the second-highest rate in the league. His last five outings have been quality starts, including a shutout against the Rockies on April 16.

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Silver Medal Pitcher of the Month: Zack Wheeler, PHI

March/April stats: 2-3 (6 GS), 1.93 ERA, 37.1 IP, 46 K, 11 BB, 1.4 fWAR

While the other two pitchers on the podium have been pleasant surprises this season, it’s no surprise to see Zack Wheeler on this list. The Just Baseball editorial staff ranked Wheeler as the second-best starter in baseball entering the 2024 season, and the veteran right-hander is certainly living up to that billing.

The Phillies ace sits atop the fWAR leaderboard thanks to a league-leading 2.44 FIP over 37.1 IP. He has gone at least six innings in five of his six starts, and his 46 strikeouts rank second in the National League. Although his velocity is down, Wheeler looks as dominant as ever; his 31.1% strikeout rate is a career-high.

Bronze Medal Pitcher of the Month: Shota Imanaga, CHC

March/April stats: 4-0 (5 GS), 0.98 ERA, 27.2 IP, 28 K, 3 BB, 0.9 fWAR

Shota Imanaga has only thrown 27.2 innings this season, not quite enough to qualify for the ERA title, but what he has done in those innings has been nothing short of phenomenal. The two-time NPB All-Star didn’t give up an earned run until his fourth MLB start, and his 0.98 ERA would rank first in baseball if he had the necessary 30 IP to qualify.

Perhaps most impressive of all, Imanaga has only issued three walks all season, and two of them came in the same start. One month into the season, he is the clear frontrunner for NL Rookie of the Year, and he’s making a case to become the second player to ever win ROY and the Cy Young in the same season.

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Just Missed the Podium: Jordan Hicks, SFG

March/April stats: 2-0 (6 GS), 1.59 ERA, 34.0 IP, 27 K, 10 BB, 0.7 fWAR

Jordan Hicks ranks fourth in the National League with a 1.59 ERA. However, his underlying numbers aren’t quite as dominant (3.10 FIP, 3.76 xFIP), and he is no doubt benefitting from an unsustainably low BABIP (.225) and HR/FB (4.0%).

Still, Hicks has done nothing but impress as he transitions from full-time reliever to full-time starting pitcher. He is averaging 5.2 IP per start and has yet to give up more than two earned runs in a game. The big question is whether or not he can keep this up over a full season, but so far, so good.