Indulge me with five minutes of your time, and we will review the month in MLB together.
Which team led MLB with 46 homers? Full marks if you said the Milwaukee Brewers, just ahead of the Los Angeles Angels with 41. It was a great month in Anaheim, although it is unclear whether Nick’s visit was the cause or the result. Mike Trout and Jared Walsh combined for 16 home runs, which was more than either the San Diego Padres or Oakland Athletics managed in May.
However, neither the Padres nor Athletics were the lowest scorers; that accolade belongs to the Detroit Tigers with just 74 runs, exactly 100 fewer runs than the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Despite 174 runs and 20 wins for the Dodgers, the Houston Astros, with 21 wins, were the team of the month. The two teams with the best overall record in MLB this season, the Yankees and the Mets, both won 19 games.
Two non-baseball stories featured prominently in media coverage. One more humorous than the other, so we will start with the less tasteful one. Former MVP Josh Donaldson believed that calling White Sox shortstop “Jackie” was an inside joke, albeit one intended to provoke a reaction. Anderson took offence. Battlelines in the ever-spiralling culture wars were drawn. Trevor Bauer supporters now had a new battle to fight. Donaldson received an undisclosed fine and a one-game suspension.
“He made a racist comment, and that’s all I’m gonna say.”Tony La Russa on Josh Donaldson
Donaldson, to his credit, issued a full and sincere apology.
We will leave the last word to Aussie closer, Liam Hendriks
The second non-baseball story to hit the headlines was more like a scene from a second-rate TV script that was rejected for complete unbelievability. Tommy Pham walked to the outfield during batting practice and slapped Joc Pederson in the head. An action for which the Reds outfielder received a three-game suspension.
And the reason for Pham’s aggression? Apparently, it related to an issue in their high-stakes fantasy football league where Pederson manipulated the rules to keep healthy players on the injured-reserve list. Pham was aggrieved at Pederson, “F***ing with my money.”
And then, in the most bizarre of twists, the greatest player on the planet was brought into the feud. Pham levelled accusations at Mike Trout, who is the commissioner of the fantasy league, for failing to take control of the issue. “The worst commissioner in fantasy sports” was how Pham described him.
And this is the trouble with baseball’s unwritten rules. Who knew that cheating in your fantasy football league would clear the benches?
Back to the real stuff…
To coincide with the release of the new Tom Cruise Top Gun movie, the Cubs were feeling the need for speed with 30 stolen bases, which was more than the Red Sox, Twins, Rockies, and Blue Jays combined.
Cedric Mullins led all speedsters with eight stolen bases, which is pretty damn impressive considering his sub-.300 OBP in May.
As the only player to reach 30 runs in May, Mookie Betts was the runs leader with 31. If you had given me ten guesses, I wouldn’t have picked Tommy Edman as the second-highest run-scorer with 26.
Like you, I’m old enough to remember Red Sox fans calling Trevor Story a bust. The second baseman finished the month with 32 RBI. A total that sandwiched him in second place between Paul Goldschmidt (33) and Pete Alonso (30).
Dodgers’ first baseman, Freddie Freeman, hit just one home run in May but led the league with 15 doubles to compliment his .306 batting average.
Talking of batting average, how about this? Goldschmidt hit an incredible .404 AVG on the month, but that was still lower than J.D. Martinez’s .406 AVG achieved over near-identical playing time.
I can probably just copy and paste the walk paragraph for every monthly review. Nationals’ superstar, Juan Soto, led the league in walks. Seeing Mike Yastrzemski in second place was surprising, but perhaps not as surprising as the thousands of worthless words written about a possible Soto trade.
We lost the legend that is Roger Angell at the age of 101. Lindsey Adler’s article is worth a few minutes of your time
I doubt Russell will devote any analysis to Albert Pujols’ pitching debut. The 49-year-old gave up two homers (four earned runs) with one walk in a single inning of work. And yes, I know he is not officially 49 years old.
And finally, Robinson Cano was jettisoned by the Mets and picked up by the Padres. Matt Carpenter signed with the Yankees. Adley Rutschman, Alek Thomas, Nolan Gorman, George Kirby, and Royce Lewis all debuted.
And finally, finally, Tri-City Valley Cats signed pitching sensation Kumar Rocker. You know the one, the guy who the Mets screwed over.
MAY HALL OF FAME
Alejandro Kirk (catcher)
Three home runs, 16 runs, and 11 RBI while walking more than he struck out. The Blue Jays catcher posted a May slash line of .347/.415/.569 with stellar defensive work.
Paul Goldschmidt (first base)
It would appear that the much-publicised decline of the veteran due to his reduced walk-rate, slowing bat speed, and increased eagerness to chase bad pitches was premature. The 34-year-old slashed .404/.471.817 in May. His staggering .538 wOBA, including 10 home runs, 20 runs, and 33 RBI.
Jose Altuve (second base)
With 21 runs, including nine home runs, the Astros talismanic second baseman enjoyed yet another exceptional month with 199 wRC+ helped by .320 AVG. I would like to point out that one of my preseason boldish predictions was that Altuve and Jeremy Pena would form an excellent middle infield duo, both hitting over .300. Last month, Pena hit 13 points higher than Altuve. Just saying.
Tim Anderson (shortstop)
The White Sox shortstop ignored the Donaldson controversy to post .433 OBP in May. He also scored 13 runs with two home runs, 12 RBI and five stolen bases.
Rafael Devers (third base)
With 1.133 OPS, May was the best month of the third basemen’s career. The Red Sox superstar hit .381 AVG with eight home runs.
Mookie Betts (right field)
Soon-to-be free agent Aaron Judge had a monster of a month with 12 home runs, 25 runs, 25 RBI and a triple-slash line of .311/.378/.699 for 203 wRC+. Mookie Betts was better in every single element, except home runs, where Judge and Betts tied with 12.
Mike Trout (centre field)
Failings as a fantasy football commissioner aside, Trout is simply the greatest player that most of us have ever seen. He scored 23 runs with eight home runs and 18 RBI with a .972 OPS. And this is a centre fielder!
David Peralta (left field)
After a slow start to the season in which he hit .206 in April, the Diamondbacks veteran thrived in May with .923 OPS, including six home runs.
Zack Wheeler (starting pitcher)
The Phillies’ right-hander looked back to his almost-CY Young-Award-winning self with five starts in May of at least seven strikeouts. The pick of the bunch was a scoreless, nine-strikeout outing against the Padres. Wheeler went 2-0 in the month with 1.65 ERA (1.64 FIP).
Martin Perez (starting pitcher)
What on earth is happening here? The guy with a career 4.71 ERA allowed just three earned runs over five starts in May – that’s a 0.64 ERA for the month. Perez isn’t a strikeout artist, but who needs strikeouts when you can throw nine scoreless innings against the Astros?
Kevin Gausman (starting pitcher)
According to the advanced metrics, the Blue Jays starter’s 2.72 ERA in May should have been even better. Concerns about the 31-year-old moving from the pitcher-friendly environment of San Francisco to the homer-happy confines of Toronto have proved unfounded.
Nick Pivetta (starting pitcher)
Hands up if you expected Pivetta and Perez to be among the best starting pitchers this season. Six starts for 2.11 ERA is definitely the month that Boston needed. Like Perez, Pivetta’s highlight was also a nine-inning demolition of Houston. And remember, the Astros were the best team in May.
Frankie Montas (starting pitcher)
Poor old Frankie. All of his buddies were traded away from Oakland, and he is left with the dregs/next era of A’s superstars (delete as appropriate). Montas made six starts in May, striking out at a rate of 10.29 SO/9 with a 2.31 ERA. Unfortunately for the 29-year-old, he finished the month 0-3 as the Athletics offered a total of six runs of support over his six starts.
Clay Holmes (relief pitcher)
In the first game of the season, Alex Verdugo’s single scored Xander Bogaerts. This remains the only run allowed by Clay Holmes in 2022. The Yankees’ right-hander made 12 appearances in May without conceding a run or issuing a walk and with over a strikeout per inning.
Liam Hendriks (relief pitcher)
Despite blowing two saves in May, Hendriks was the only closer to register double-digit saves. The Australian is on target to exceed his MLB-leading 38 saves from last year.
Josh Hader (relief pitcher)
The Brewers closer only made eight appearances, pitching just 7⅓ innings, but recorded eight saves without giving up a run. The right-hander leads MLB with 18 saves.
MAY HALL OF SHAME
- Eugenio Suarez and Patrick Wisdom tied with 40 strikeouts each in May
- Matt Harvey received a 60-game suspension for drug distribution
- Trevor Bauer’s appeal of his 324-game suspension started
- Aaron Loup blew three saves without successfully converting one
- In just 19 ⅔ innings, Jordan Hicks hit five batters and fired two wild pitches
- Bruce Zimmermann was taken deep, a league-leading 12 times
- With a 100% failure rate on the basepaths, Adam Frazier was caught stealing three times in three attempts
- On nine occasions, Maikel Franco grounded into a double play
- Joey Bart hit just .093 (4-for-43)
Featured image of Tommy Pham by Justin Berl/Getty Images
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