The month of May is in the books, and it was quite the month. We saw one of the biggest stars in the game get suspended for using performance enhancing drugs, a couple of managers get the axe, some teams making surprising runs to the top and some great individual performances.
Here are the top 10 things we learned in May….
10. Joe D’s 56 game hitting streak is going to be really hard to break. One of the great early stories of May was Ryan Zimmerman’s pursuit of Joe DiMaggio’s 56 game hitting streak record. Zimmerman made it to 30 games before having his streak stopped in San Francisco. Everyone got wrapped up in Zimmerman’s attempt, but what is amazing is that he still would have had to get a hit per game for another full month if he wanted to break the record.
Joe DiMaggio is safe for now. Speaking of Yankee players….
9. Mark Teixeira and CC Sabathia earned their money.After a dreadful month of April, high-priced Yankee free agents Mark Teixeira and CC Sabathia really turned it on in May. Teixeira hit .330 with 13 HR’s and 34 RBI at the plate, while CC Sabathia went 4-1 with a 2.56 ERA on the mound.
While Sabathia is in pinstripes, his former team is doing just fine without him…
8. The Brewers can win without Sabathia and Sheets. Many people thought that after the Brewers lost both CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets in the offseason, they would regress this year. Not so fast. The Brewers are in first place and doing it with pitching.
The Brewers are fifth in the NL with a 3.98 staff ERA and their bullpen, led by Trevor Hoffman is second in the NL with a 3.22 ERA.
Staying in the central time zone….
7. Joe Mauer might be the best player in the game. Mauer came off the DL and just started tearing the cover off the baseball. In the month of May, Mauer hit a ridiculous .414 with 11 HR’s, 32 RBI, 27 runs scored and a .500 OBP. All that while playing maybe the hardest position in sports. That being a catcher.
Back in March, I wrote a post “Five players to start a franchise with.” Joe Mauer might be #1 after this season is over. Despite his great month of May, the Twins are trying to catch the Detroit Tigers.
That is because….
6. Edwin Jackson for Matt Joyce was a steal for the Tigers. Edwin Jackson for Matt Joyce was one of the more under-the-radar trades in the offseason. That trade is under-the-radar no longer. Jackson has been a stud for the Tigers and is one of the main reasons the Tigers are in first place at the end of May.
Jackson is 5-3 with a 2.30 ERA. What has been one of the keys to Jackson’s success? Throwing strike one.
Here is a free pitching lesson kids. Your best pitch isn’t a fastball or a curveball or a changeup. It’s strike one. Throw strike one and your career as a pitcher will be much better off.
When the count is 0-1, hitters are batting .182 against Jackson. When the count is 1-0, hitters are batting .275. That is almost a 100 point difference.
While Jackson has the Tigers in first place in the AL Central….
5. The Rangers are for real in the AL West. After about 25 years, the Rangers have finally realized that pitching and defense wins. The Rangers are in first place in the AL West by 4.5 games and are doing it with improved pitching and defense.
The Rangers are fifth in AL in defense with a .986 fielding percentage and are sixth in the AL with a 4.34 team ERA. Their defense has been solidified by one of the leading Rookie of the Year candidates, Elvis Andrus.
On the subject of rookies…
4. There is a lot of young talent in baseball. In the month of May we saw an influx of young talent come to the majors. Top prospects David Price, Matt LaPorta, Fernando Martinez, Daniel Bard, Mat Gamel, Gerardo Parra and of course Matt Wieters all made their season and in most cases, major league debut in May.
That is a pretty impressive group and we still might see Clay Buchholz (Red Sox), Andrew McCutchen (Pirates), Gordon Beckham (White Sox) and Tommy Hanson (Braves) in June. Right now Gerardo Parra is off to the best start for the Diamondbacks, hitting .319 with 1 HR and 16 RBI in 16 games.
While Parra has been a bright spot for the Diamondbacks, the rest of the team struggled….
3. It was a bad month for managers in the NL West. Both Bob Melvin of the Diamondbacks and Clint Hurdle of the Rockies got the axe in May. I agreed with the Melvin firing because something clearly needed to be done. However, hiring the VP of Player Development, AJ Hinch didn’t make sense to me.
On the other hand, I was torn about the Clint Hurdle firing. I saw reasons for keeping him and I saw reasons for firing him. The Rockies fired Hurdle and replaced him with bench coach, Jim Tracy. Again, a move I didn’t agree with.
Staying in the NL West…
2. Jake Peavy really likes San Diego. The biggest hot stove story in May was the potential trade of Jake Peavy to the Chicago White Sox. In the end, Peavy exercised his no-trade clause and rejected the trade to Chicago. Peavy clearly wants to stay in the NL and in a pitcher’s ballpark and Chicago is neither.
I still think Peavy will eventually be traded, but he is making it awfully tough for Padres GM, Kevin Towers.
Again staying in the NL West, the #1 thing we learned in May was….
1. Manny will always be Manny. Manny Ramirez, one of the biggest stars in the game was suspended for 50 games for testing positive for performance enhancing drugs. Ramirez blamed medication that a doctor prescribed to him for a personal issue. You know, that ole chestnut.
After quitting on the Red Sox last year, Manny got exactly what he deserved. Manny is eligible to return to the Dodgers the first week of July.
That’s a wrap for the month of May. It was a great month and things should only get better in June. One last fact about the month of May. Since 1995, 64 percent of the teams in first place at the end of May made the playoffs.
That means out of the Yankees, Tigers, Rangers, Phillies, Brewers, and Dodgers two of those teams are most likely to miss the playoffs. Which teams will it be? Time will only tell.