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April Wrap-Up: The Best And Worst, So Far

Since we're all very interested in tracking our preseason predictions, at the end of each month here on Baseball Insider we will update the cumulative leaders for the major individual awards, as well as the best and worst teams in baseball as of that moment.

Believe me, I'm not doing this to draw attention to my own picks (how's Brandon Webb looking these days, anyway?), but to provide a sort of monthly update for all the individual races. Of course, the following picks are merely my own views -- so feel free, in the Comments section, to tell me where I have erred. Because you know you want to.

NL MVP
1. Chase Utley, Phillies
2. Albert Pujols, Cardinals
3. Adrian Gonzalez, Padres
Utley is actually getting out-OPS'd by teammate Raul Ibanez, but gets the nod because of his defense and his three additional RBI. Pujols is on his way to another monster year for the first-place Cards. Gonzalez leads the league in homers and is third in OPS for the surprisingly competitive Padres.

NL Cy Young
1. Dan Haren, Diamondbacks
2. Johan Santana, Mets
3. Yovani Gallardo. Brewers
Forget wins and losses. Haren is allowing a lower batting average (.171), on-base percentage (.203) and slugging percentage (.238) than Santana, has a better strikeout-to-walk rate (7.2), and is 5-for-5 in quality starts (Santana is 4-for-5). Gallardo is on the rise: 2-0 with a 0.78 ERA and 25 Ks against three walks in his past three starts.

NL Rookie
1. Brian Barden, Cardinals
2. Dexter Fowler, Rockies
3. Jordan Zimmermann, Nationals
Barden's pedigree suggests he will fade, but for now he's on fire -- leading all NL rookies in homers (3) and slugging (.641) despite having only 39 at-bats and not playing every day. Fowler gets a slight nod over fellow center fielder Jordan Schafer (Braves) because of his spectacular defense. Zimmermann's numbers (2-0, 2.38 ERA) speak for themselves.

NL Manager
1. Tony La Russa, Cardinals
2. Fredi Gonzalez, Marlins
3. Bud Black, Padres
Yeah, it's silly to pick managers of the year a month into the season, but we've never let that stop us before. La Russa has the Cardinals playing the league's best ball in a division where everyone was picking the Cubs. Gonzalez and Black (along with Pittsburgh's John Russell) are guiding overachieving teams that may or may not stick around.

AL MVP
1. Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox
2. Jason Bay, Red Sox
3. Torii Hunter, Angels
Youkilis and Bay are both putting up Bonds-esque numbers, with OBPs over .500 and slugging percentages over .650. Hunter (league-leading .740 slugging) is carrying the injury- and tragedy-stricken Angels.

AL Cy Young
1. Zack Greinke, Royals
2. Felix Hernandez, Mariners
3. Tim Wakefield, Red Sox
Greinke (5-0, 0.50) is the easiest call in any category. Hernandez has allowed only one homer all season, while notching four quality starts in five trips to the mound. Wakefield has the lowest opponents' batting average (.154) and OPS (.469) of any pitcher in the league.

AL Rookie
1. Ricky Romero, Blue Jays
2. Travis Snider, Blue Jays
3. Andrew Bailey, Athletics
Romero (2-0, 1.71) had strung together three straight quality starts before sidelined with an oblique strain, while teammate Snider is posting a healthy .828 OPS. Meantime, have you seen Bailey's numbers? Only eight baserunners allowed in 13 2/3 innings (spanning 10 relief appearances), with an opponents' batting average of .068 and OPS of .300.

AL Manager
1. Cito Gaston, Blue Jays
2. Don Wakamatsu, Mariners
3. Mike Scioscia, Angels
The Blue Jays were supposed to be playing for fourth place in the stacked AL East; instead, Gaston somehow has them possessing the game's best record. Wakamatsu has the surprising Mariners in first place in the West, while Scioscia gets some love for keeping the Angels from dissolving in the wake of ample tragedy and injury.

Five Best Teams (all MLB)
1. Red Sox
2. Blue Jays
3. Dodgers
4. Cardinals
5. Mariners
We know what the standings say about the AL East, but the Blue Jays have yet to play a single game within the division (the bulk of their 15 wins has come against the softer AL Central), while the Red Sox are 8-2 against division foes. The Dodgers come in slightly ahead of the Cardinals because of their pitching, while the Mariners' 7-2 intradivisional record trails only the Red Sox's.

Five Worst Teams (All MLB)
1. Nationals
2. Diamondbacks
3. Indians
4. Astros
5. Orioles
The Nationals, while terrible, are also the only team in the majors that has yet to see an opponent outside their own division (though that changes tonight). Meantime, the Orioles have a game up on the Rays in the AL East, but are actually three games back in Pythagorean standings, due to a pitching staff that ranks last in the majors.

By Dave Sheinin  |  April 30, 2009; 11:30 AM ET
 
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