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Oakland A’s Players of the Month: April 2023

We’re giving out awards to the A’s best hitter, starting pitcher, reliever, defender, and rookie of April, as well as the team MVP.

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Oakland Athletics v Los Angeles Angels Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

The first month of the 2023 MLB season is in the books and boy was it a.. bad one. Or maybe horrendous would be a better word to describe it. Historically awful? Whatever superlative you want to give it, there were not a lot of highlights to choose from or performances that stood out. But of the few that did, we’ve gathered them here and rewarded them with the the season’s first Athletics Nation Player of the Month Awards.

Feel free to debate and disagree, but these picks are official and 100% correct. Let us begin!

Best Hitter

Our first award goes to a guy who’s spent a lot of time destroying minor league pitching and is finally showing he can translate his talent to the major leagues. That man is... Carlos Perez! Just kidding. Perez has been an absolute sparkplug whenever he’s been up to bat, but there’s only one correct answer here and it’s the reigning AL Player of the Week, Brent Rooker.

Not only has he been the A’s best hitter this month, he’s been the best hitter in all of baseball. Among players with at least 80 PAs in April, Rooker led the majors in wRC+ at 238 (second is Matt Chapman at 220). For comparison, Aaron Judge had a measly 207 wRC+ last season when he broke the AL home run record. All rise for the Rooker! Impressively, he’s also walked nearly as much as he’s struck out, resulting in a .353/.465/.779 line with 9 homeruns. That translates to 66 homers over a 162-game season. Rooker has been one of the only good reasons to watch the A’s and he’s by far our best hitter.

Winner: Brent Rooker

Honorable Mentions: Ryan Noda, Jesus Aguilar, Carlos Perez

Best Starting Pitcher

This one’s a doozy. First, we gotta narrow it down: who’s still in the starting rotation? Nearly half of the Opening Day rotation is either in the bullpen or in AAA. I’d love to give it to Mason Miller after his seven hitless innings the other night but that was in May and his two April starts weren’t overpowering enough to surpass the candidates who pitched the full month, albeit poorly. That narrows it down to the Waldichuk-Muller-Sears trio who, despite their early season warts and 6+ ERAs, have worked hard to keep the A’s in games.

Surprisingly, I’m going with the least hyped member of that group, JP Sears. In his first three starts of the season, the southpaw still held a strong 3.00 ERA. While that doubled to 6.00 in his fourth start, that was arguably the best of his young career. After a 4-run 1st inning, Sears settled in and pitched 5 shutout innings while striking out 11 Rangers batters. It’s great progress for someone who was seen as the third-best piece of the Montas trade and probably would’ve spent the month as a swingman if Blackburn or Rucinski were healthy. Congratulations to 2023 Oakland A’s ace, JP Sears.

Winner: JP Sears

Honorable Mentions: Kyle Muller, Ken Waldichuk, Mason Miller

Best Reliever

This, unfortunately, is just a two-man race as the rest of the relief crew have been absolutely terrible. Jayson Stark said this in The Athletic this week about the A’s bullpen: “[T]heir bullpen has basically transformed the entire league into 2008 Albert Pujols (.354/.464/.569 against the A’s just in save situations, .357/.462/.653 by Albert).” However, Jackson and Moll haven’t let the bad vibes get to them as they’ve put up pretty similar, if not better, numbers than last year. Despite ongoing command issues, Jackson is my pick. He has a sparkling 2.13 ERA, with a 2.73 ERA to back that up, and is striking out 11.37 batters per nine. At some point, they’re gonna have to give him some save situations (if the A’s ever see any again).

Winner: Zach Jackson

Honorable Mentions: Sam Moll, nobody else

Best Defender

Not a lot of elite options here either. Cristian Pache or Nick Allen could’ve won this award handily but the A’s front office wants to keep pretending Connor Capel and Aledmys Diaz are gonna win us ballgames, all 5 of them.

None of the A’s players have rated positively by really any defensive metrics. Everyone’s either right around average or worse. Kemp has been solid as always and Ruiz has shown flashes but is still raw and learning in CF. So, despite missing 11 April games, Ramon Laureano is our choice for the A’s top defender. Already, he’s delivered a couple of signature Laser throws from RF, one against the Orioles on April 13 and another last week against the Reds in his first game back from injury. I think he purposely squeezed it in right before the end of the month just to be considered for this award.

Winner: Ramon Laureano

Honorable Mentions: Tony Kemp, Esteury Ruiz, Jace Peterson

Best Rookie

Remove Brent Rooker from this team and we’re probably giving the Best Hitter award to Ryan Noda. Esteury Ruiz definitely deserves a mention here with the energy, elite baserunning, and clutch at-bats he’s provided. But as of right now, Noda is more of a full package, providing nearly everything we were promised out of the Rule 5 draft. He’s got major-league power, plays a solid 1st base, and walks a ton. Among major league hitters with at least 80 April PAs, Noda ranked 3rd with a whopping 21.2% BB rate, right behind his peers, Max Muncy and Juan Soto. Right now, they’re still only playing him against righties so he can’t run away with this award just yet, but with still plenty of room to grow and more power to tap into, Noda’s future with the A’s is looking bright. Also bonus points for hitting one out to the #FisherOut RF bleachers.

Winner: Ryan Noda

Honorable Mentions: Esteury Ruiz, Kyle Muller, Ken Waldichuk


This one was a bit too easy to choose, both because the team is so devoid of “valuable” players and because he’s been such an absolute monster this first month. Your 2023 Oakland A’s April MVP is... Brent Rooker! There’s not much more to say beyond what I wrote in the Best Hitter section, but I’ll leave you with this mammoth second-decker down the LF foul line. My god.

Winner: Brent Rooker

Honorable Mentions: Ryan Noda, JP Sears, Esteury Ruiz