Did Matt Kemp Post the Best March/April since 2003?

As the first month of the season comes to a close their have been some great stories throughout baseball. The biggest one is none other than Los Angeles Dodger Matt Kemp, and his prolific start to the season. I decided to dig a little deeper, and see where it ranks among the last 10 seasons. The results, and my rankings are after the break.

In order to get the data I needed I used the custom leaderboard feature over at Fangraphs. I based my rankings on a couple factors including the amount of games they played in March/April, and wRC+. I also used some other statistics, and included them in the spreadsheets so that you can make your own conclusions.

T10) Justin Morneau

 Year        Player  Games  BABIP   BB%     K%   ISO  wRC+
2010  Justin Morneau 21 0.375 21.90% 14.60% 0.293 206

Justin Morneau was on his way to another MVP season, posting 206 wRC+, and did it in 21 games. He had 21 non-intentional walks, and only 2 intentional walks. That success continued throughout the season, until he sustained a devastating concussion in the summer. Morneau has struggled to be the same ever since.

T10) Robinson Cano

 Year        Player  Games  BABIP    BB%     K%   ISO  wRC+
2010  Robinson Cano 22 0.377 6.40% 10.60% 0.365 214

Robinson Cano didn’t have as many walks as Morneau, but he struck out less than he did. He also showed a little more power than Morneau did. Cano maintained the hot bat all year, and finished with a 6.5 WAR.

9) Evan Longoria

 Year       Player  Games  BABIP    BB%    K%    ISO  wRC+
2009   Evan Longoria 21 0.403 8.60% 18.30% 0.345 198

After having an incredible 2008 rookie year, Evan Longoria posted some excellent numbers in the first month of his first full season. He showed that the power was real, and that he had an above average eye at the plate. There isn’t much else to say, he’s a stud.

8) Alex Rodriguez

 Year        Player  Games  BABIP    BB%     K%   ISO  wRC+
2003  Alex Rodriguez 27 0.439 9.70% 25.80% 0.318 189

Alex Rodriguez would be up higher, but he did it in 27 games. The K% was a little high, but it eventually regressed. Rodriguez preceded to finish 2003 with one of the best seasons of his career.

7) Chase Utley

 Year        Player  Games  BABIP    BB%     K%    ISO  wRC+
2008   Chase Utley 28 0.333 8.60% 11.70% 0.405 204

Like Rodriguez, Chase Utley is also lower because he played in 28 games during March/April. He didn’t disappoint though, managing an excellent strikeout and walk rate, while showing his power potential.

6) Alex Rodriguez

 Year        Player  Games  BABIP    BB%     K%    ISO  wRC+
2007  Alex Rodriguez 23 0.328 8.50% 21.70% 0.527 229

While Alex Rodriguez’s 2003 start was good, his 2007 start was even better. He showed mammoth power, posting an ISO of .527. The strikeouts also weren’t as concerning as in 2003. A typical Alex Rodriguez start.

5) Brian Roberts

 Year        Player  Games  BABIP   BB%     K%   ISO  wRC+
2005   Brian Roberts 23 0.394 12.70% 14.50% 0.347 226

In 2005 Baltimore Oriole’s second baseman, Brian Roberts, had a career year. His power in the first month of the season was a fluke, as was his power throughout the whole season. In the end he had 6.7 WAR.

4) Albert Pujols

 Year       Player  Games  BABIP    BB%    K%   ISO  wRC+
2006   Albert Pujols 25 0.23 25.50% 6.40% 0.568 243

Just a typical Albert Pujols start, he showed a ton of power, while hardly striking out at all. There isn’t much else to say.

3) Jose Bautista

 Year       Player  Games  BABIP    BB%    K%   ISO  wRC+
2011   Jose Bautista 24 0.368 25.20% 14.40% 0.415 255

It’s funny how fast people forget things. Just last season Jose Bautista was the hottest player in baseball. In 24 games hehad a 255 wRC+, and showed off incredible power. He ended the season as one of the best players in baseball.

2) Barry Bonds

 Year        Player  Games  BABIP    BB%     K%   ISO  wRC+
2004    Barry Bonds 23 0.405 42.40% 6.50% 0.66 326

This could arguably be the best April ever, Fangraphs writer Dave Cameron certainly thinks so. Bonds had an uncanny ISO, and got walked 45% of the time, 18 of his walks were intentional. It might not get any better then that.

1) Matt Kemp

 Year       Player  Games  BABIP    BB%     K%   ISO  wRC+
2012    Matt Kemp 23 0.442 13.30% 21.40% 0.476 275

With all of that said, I think Matt Kemp has had the best start in the past 10 seasons. Bonds showed much more power, and Kemp came second in wRC+ only to him, but once you reach 200 in terms of wRC+, things become less clear.

There’s no clear cut answer, all of these guys had incredible starts to the season. Some of the players had better starts were better than others, but in the end they all were dominant.


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