With 43 days standing between today and the end of the MLB regular season, we have officially entered the stretch run. And while my main focus this time of the year is and has always been positioning my squads to contend for a league title, I also tend to do some reflecting. What makes fantasy baseball different from other fantasy sports is the length of the season, particularly the number of games. Although every roster decision might seem like a big deal at the time, it represents only a tiny fraction of the number of roster decisions that will need to be made over the course of the entire season. The season is so long that by late-June, let alone late-August, most owners will have a tough time remembering their opening day starting lineup. Most owners will also have a tough time naming the April statistical leaders, even though April is the month when owners make the highest number of ill-advised decisions based on a small sample size.
This article is all about remembering April. More specifically, this article is about remembering some of the top April performers in the five standard rotisserie categories (using Hits instead of AVG), and you might be surprised. I was surprised.
Josh Harrison: 30 Hits (Led Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts)
Harrison enjoyed a breakout campaign in 2014 but wasn't nearly as productive last year. After batting .333 with 15 RBI in April, Harrison seemed well on his way towards proving that 2015 was the fluke. But he's collected only 33 RBI since while seeing his batting average drop by 60 points. Harrison is a useful fantasy contributor, but I don't envision the 2014 All-Star making a return trip to the Midsummer Classic anytime soon.
Colby Rasmus: 7 HR (Led Mark Trumbo, David Ortiz, Kris Bryant, Nelson Cruz)
Rasmus exceeded expectations last year, launching a single-season high 25 homers. This year? Not so much. Even before landing on the DL earlier this month, the vast majority of his fantasy owners likely benched him or dropped him, as he's managed only five homers while batting .195 since the beginning of May. Well, it was fun while it lasted. The impending free agent will probably have to settle for another one-year deal this winter.
Neil Walker: 19 RBI (Led Edwin Encarnacion, Jay Bruce, Miguel Cabrera, Mike Napoli, Nelson Cruz, Kris Bryant)
Walker did his best Daniel Murphy 2015 postseason impersonation in April. Four months later, the Mets are surely wishing they still had Murphy manning second base. But that's only because Murphy is a legitimate MVP candidate. Walker's production has declined since his red-hot April, but he has still put together a fine season, one that will almost certainly end with a new single-season high in home runs.
Curtis Granderson: 17 Runs (Led Wil Myers, Corey Seager, Paul Goldschmidt, Jean Segura)
There was a time when I actually felt good about my $15 Tout Wars investment. There was a time when Granderson was actually on pace to exceed last season's 98 runs scored. But a significantly lower OBP combined with an inconsistent Mets lineup has resulted in only 56 runs for Grandy through 113 games. The 20 homers are nice, but that's about it.
Billy Burns: 7 Stolen Bases (Led Billy Hamilton, Jonathan Villar, Jean Segura)
Burns was supposed to be a quality source of batting average and a reliable source of speed this season. And the former A's outfielder did bat .278 to go along with the seven swipes in April. That was a long, long time ago. After being shipped to Kansas City at the trade deadline, the struggling outfielder has appeared in only a handful of games for his new club, going 1-for-8.
At this point, next April cannot come soon enough for Billy Burns.