Best of May: Jays, Giants, Masahiro Tanaka and George Springer
AL team: Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays were absolutely on fire in May, winning the most games of any team after posting a 21-9 record. They ended the month winning 15 of their last 19 games, which included a nine-game win streak. They led baseball in runs scored by a wide margin with 165 in May. The next closest team was Oakland at 142. They also led all of baseball in average, hitting at a .277 clip, and home runs with 48. The pitching held up just enough with a 3.74 ERA in May. Jose Bautista hit .324 in May with six home runs, 22 RBIs and a .417 OBP. Edwin Encarnacion backed him up with 16 home runs and 33 RBIs, while Jose Reyes got it done at the top of the lineup scoring 23 runs and stealing 11 bases. Mark Buehrle continued his 2014 success, winning five games in May with a 2.48 ERA. Casey Janssen was money in May with eight saves while not allowing a run in 10 innings.
NL team: San Francisco Giants
The Giants also only lost nine games during May, while winning an NL-high 19, which puts them 7.5 games ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West, giving them the biggest division lead in all of baseball after two months. The Giants finished third in the NL in runs scored for in May with 123, but it was pitching that carried them. The Giants staff had an MLB-best 2.91 ERA in May, and an NL-best .231 batting average against. Ryan Vogelsong (2.29), Madison Bumgarner (2.08), Tim Lincecum (2.86) and Tim Hudson (1.46) all had ERAs under three in May. Vogelsong and Lincecum each won three games and struck out 34 batters, with Vogelsong tossing 39.1 innings and Lincecum 34.2. After a slow start to the season, Pablo Sandoval picked up the slack on offense in May hitting .318 with six home runs. Hunter Pence was solid as well scoring 24 times, while getting on base at .373 clip.
AL pitcher: Masahiro Tanaka
Where would the Yankees be without Tanaka? The guy has been great, and he just keeps getting better. In May, he won five of his six starts while posting a 1.88 ERA and 0.98 WHIP, and he had 42 strikeouts in 43 innings. Tanaka is 8-1, striking out 88 in 78.2 innings with a 2.06 ERA and 0.95 WHIP. Those numbers are top five among AL pitchers, making him an early favorite for the AL Cy Young Award.
NL pitcher: Madison Bumgarner
The Giants’ recent run of success over the past few years is the result of great starting pitching, typically led by Lincecum or Matt Cain, but Bumgarner is proving to be the new ace atop the rotation this year. In May, he won five of six starts, threw 39 innings, struck out 48 batters and posted a 2.08 ERA and a 0.85 WHIP. The strikeout and win totals put him first among NL pitchers for the month of May. Bumgarner had a difficult start to the season with a 4.25 ERA in April, so it was nice to see him bouncenback to his normal self. On the season, he now has seven wins to go along with a 2.85 ERA and 1.25 WHIP. He’s struck out 85 batters in 72.2 innings.
AL player: Miguel Cabrera
You knew the king couldn’t stay down for long. After a subpar April, Cabrera exploded in May hitting .380, getting on base 42 percent of the time. He also hit eight home runs and drove in 34 while registering 11 doubles among his 41 May hits. Had Cabrera been flipped with Victor Martinez in the lineup, Martinez may have been the player of the month because Cabrera stole many of his RBI. Martinez had 42 hits in May for a .372 average and .432 OBP, as well as nine home runs and 21 RBIs. We know Cabrera is going to hit, but if Martinez can keep up this pace, the Tigers are going to be humbling some pitching staffs this season. On the season, Cabrera is hitting .325 with a .370 OBP to go along with 10 home runs and 49 RBIs.
NL player: Yasiel Puig
It pains me to say it, but Puig was amazing in May. He led the National League in hits with 43, RBI with 25, batting average at .398, OPB at .492 and he was tied with Giancarlo Stanton for the home run lead in May with eight. You could easily make an argument that he was the best player in all of baseball during May. Unfortunately for the Dodgers, Puig’s torrid May didn’t lead to much success as they finished the month with a 15-15 record. On the season, Puig is hitting .347 with a .437 OBP to go along with 11 home runs and 40 RBIs.
Rookie of the month: George Springer
It took George Springer all of a month to adjust at the big-league level. The 24-year-old outfielder tore it up in May, knocking 10 balls out of the park and driving in 25. He also hit .294 and got on base 36 percent of the time. It’s going to be a tough race in the American League for Rookie of the Year with Jose Abreu and Masahiro Tanaka, but George Springer definitely made a statement in May that he belongs in that class.