A month that may have started with a thud certainly ended with a bang. After dropping two of the first three against the White Sox, the Indians rattled off an 18-6 record to start off the season.
Equally impressive were the bullpen and closer Chris Perez. The ability to safely hand the ball to Perez and the bullpen in the later innings proved to be pivotal in the Indians’ catapult to the top of the standings.
Asdrubal Cabrera was a key cog in the lineup, starting every game and establishing himself as a power threat. Travis Hafner started to look more like what we’ve remembered in years past. Grady Sizemore returned to the lineup and instantly provided a boost, and Jack Hannahan proved a great stopgap at third base while improving his performance at the dish.
The Indians were hitting on all cylinders, and everything was falling into place for a club that hadn’t had much of that in recent years. Things felt great in April and it was an even better time to be an Indians fan. While the pitching put up zeros, the offense put up runs, and for a while things began to resemble the golden years of the 90’s. Tom Hamilton described it brilliantly: “the magic is back at Progressive Field.”
Offensive MVP: Travis Hafner. April’s MVP was very tough to determine, given the performance of a lot of guys up and down the Indians lineup. Hafner gets the nod over Asdrubal Cabrera due to the fact that, in April, Hafner looked more like the Pronk that struck fear in pitchers across the league. It could be argued that Hafner’s most productive month was April over July, and soon after his torrid start he was limited to just 22 games from May 3 to June 29. He would regain his regular spot in the lineup in July, but his power numbers would not be the same as they were in April.
Lowest ERA: Justin Masterson— 2.18
Most Wins Recorded: Justin Masterson – Five wins in five games started.
Best FIP: Justin Masterson—3.26
Pitching: The Indians pitching staff picked up where they left off at the end of the 2010 season, and Justin Masterson solidified himself as the staff ace early on. Masterson was dazzling in April and proved that, given some run support, he can be as formidable as anyone in the league. The fact that he didn’t record a win until July after a stellar start was often not because of his work on the hill. Young arms Carlos Carrasco and Josh Tomlin showed glimpses of what they could do and the bright futures they could hold in the Indians rotation. Alex White also proved his worth in a spot start in April, demonstrating the team’s commitment to stocking young, promising arms in the organization.