The calendar has rolled over to May, and with it comes a myriad of April recaps. This one is unique, however, in that the focus is on Pitch Level Value, or PLV, Pitcher List’s newest metric. If you are still unfamiliar with PLV, check out Nick Pollack’s “What is PLV?” primer. You won’t regret it.
We assembled an All-Star team based on the players with the highest PLVs in April. To qualify, the pitchers and hitters had to meet a playing time threshold of ~300 pitches seen for batters, ~400 pitches for starters, and ~200 for relievers. The season is still young, but below are our PLV All-Stars for the month of April.
Starting Pitcher: Jacob deGrom
Jacob deGrom went on the IL with right elbow inflammation a few days ago. Baseball fans should hope his stay is short, because this guy is a generational talent. The only thing holding him back in recent years is health, and April was no exception. However, despite a rough Opening Day start, deGrom has again put up stellar numbers so far this year:
DeGrom’s four-seamer and slider, which he throws 89% of the time, are close to the best in the league, and his 1.72 PLA is the lowest among pitchers who’ve thrown more than 400 pitches by nearly half a run (Joe Ryan ranks second at 2.16.) So get better soon, Jacob; we love to watch you pitch!
Reliever: Emmanuel Clase
Clase was one of the top closers in the league the last two seasons, and he’s back at it in 2023 as a “Class A” reliever (pun intended.) His April numbers are stellar except for his K%, which is shockingly low and is dragging down his CSW%:
Clase throws a cutter and a slider. He’s struggled with his slider thus far in 2023. His PLV on the pitch is 5.20 PLV, well below the 5.87 he achieved in 2022. However, his cutter, which ranks in the 94th percentile, is so dominant that it doesn’t matter. It’s scary to think that Clase doesn’t appear to have hit his stride yet this season and is still the highest-ranked reliever on our app.
Catcher: Sean Murphy
Sean Murphy has been all the Braves could hope for when they traded for him in the offseason. Not only is Murphy one of the best defensive catchers in baseball, but he’s been one of the best hitters at his position as well:
Murph’s Power has been off the charts thus far in 2023:
Even with some regression, Sean Murphy is cementing his place among the elite catchers in MLB.
First Base: Max Muncy
Muncy hasn’t actually played first base this year. However, it’s probably his best position, and as our goal was to build the best possible lineup, we slotted him here. After a rough 2022, Muncy has opened 2023 on fire, leading the league in homers through April:
Muncy’s power continues to rise. Before missing three games on paternity leave last week, he was on fire, slugging five homers in seven games:
Muncy’s hot start has been an enormous boon for the Dodgers, who badly need him to be productive.
Second Base: Luis Arraez
Arraez is almost the polar opposite of Murphy and Muncy, offering little power but a batting average over 50 points higher than anyone else:
Arraez is as steady as they come at putting the ball in play, and his season average is nearly off-the-charts:
We may never see another .400 hitter, but if anyone can get close in this day and age, it’s this guy.
Shortstop: Jorge Mateo
Many assumed that highly acclaimed rookie Gunnar Henderson would relegate Mateo to a bench role this season. However, the slick fielder has been a beast at the plate thus far, and it appears Henderson will remain at third base for the foreseeable future:
Mateo has done it all for the Orioles this season and has been one of the best overall hitters in baseball, as evidenced by his YTD Hitter Performance profile:
Some regression will likely come for Mateo, who has cut his K% in half from last year and doubled his ISO. Even so, the Orioles may have one of the best overall shortstops in the league on their hands.
Third Base: Matt Chapman
Max Muncy is at first base because Matt Chapman has the highest PLV among qualified hitters this season. Chapman is off to a tremendous start, and is on track to have his best season since 2019, at the very least:
Chapman hit only five homers in April but added 15 doubles, tops in baseball. His Power rank of 80 is matched by only Muncy among qualified hitters:
Left Field: Brent Rooker
PLV ranks Rooker high on every metric except Contact, resulting in one of the best HPs in April:
If Rooker sustains a high level of production all season, it will be one silver lining on what is shaping up to be a miserable season for A’s fans.
Center Field: Brandon Marsh
Brandon Marsh has been crushing it for the Phillies this season, although a .453 BABIP and 28.6% K% suggest it may not last long:
Marsh doesn’t stick out in any particular category, which has led to a Hitter Performance ranking near the top of the charts:
The Phillies struggled out of the gate but have the talent to turn things around in a big way, especially if Marsh can keep producing All-Star-worthy numbers.
Right Field: Kyle Tucker
Kyle Tucker does a bit of everything as a hitter. He’s slugged 30 homers two years in a row, drives in runs at a high rate, gets on base, and contributes with his legs. In April, Tucker continued the trend of the past two seasons:
Tucker is good at everything, and though he has cooled lately, he remains one of the premier hitters in the eyes of PLV:
Designated Hitter: Brandon Lowe
Adding a DH to our lineup allowed us to get one more deserving player onto the team. No April list would be complete without a Tampa Bay Ray, and Lowe’s power has been impressive in 2023:
Lowe did substantial damage early in the season when he hit five home runs and drove in 12 from April 8th to 13th against Oakland and Boston. His power has been trending down since, but his month remained strong enough to get him into our lineup:
The nature of Lowe’s game will lead to hot and cold streaks, but no team is better at putting their players in a position to succeed than the Rays.
Feature image by Michael Packard (@CollectingPack on Twitter) / Photography by Leslie Plaza Johnson, Julian Avram & Jeff Robinson / Icon Sportswire