Month in Review, American League Edition: May
We’re a week into the month of June and the biggest news of the week thus far continues to be the ongoing MLB Draft (of which I’ll have some thoughts on later in the week). However, it seems as good an opportunity as any to take a look back at the month that’s just passed. We’ll leadoff with the American League this time around.
Best Team: Boston Red Sox
After getting off to a 2-10 start, many were wondering what was wrong with the Red Sox considering the team entered the season very much in the discussions of who the best team in the AL would be in the 2011 season. Yet, despite the dismal beginning to the season, there was still hope in Boston that the team was just too good to continue underperforming. May proved that hope was justified as the team stormed to a 19-10 record for the month, tops in the AL by 2 games.
Of course, the team still sits in the midst of a race within a strong AL Eastern division. The Yankees hold the top spot while Tampa Bay and Toronto should not be considered out of it just yet.
April Best Team selection, Cleveland, slipped to 14-12 in the month of May. They still hold the lead in the AL Central, but that margin has reduced a good deal with the strong month had by the Detroit Tigers.
Best Starting Pitcher: Gio Gonzalez
There were a number of stellar performances here worthy of consideration: C.C. Sabathia (4-2, 3.63 ERA, 31 K, 44.2 IP), Justin Verlander (3-0, 2.62 ERA, 33 K, 44.2 IP), David Price (3-1, 3.06 ERA, 38 K, 35.1 IP). Ultimately, however, the nod here will go to Gonzalez, who’s not even the top lefty in Oakland’s rotation. The month saw the well-traveled pitcher go 3-0 in 5 starts (32.1 innings) with a 1.67 ERA, 35 K, and a 1.14 WHIP.
Best Relief Pitcher: David Pauley
Credit must be given to Pauley’s month of May. The swingman proved to be invaluable to the Mariners during the month, pitching 16.0 innings over 10 appearances of 0.56 ERA while tying for the league lead with 4 wins (versus 0 losses). Pauley also struck out 11 batters while walking none and allowing just a singular run the entire month.
Best Hitter: Jose Bautista
At this point it should come as no surprise that Bautista is the overall choice here, but this was no runaway selection by any means. The month of May saw Bautista once again lead the AL in HRs (11) while finishing in the Top 10 in RBI (23), walks (18), and OPS (1.267). He’s the lone player in either league to reach the 20 HR mark thus far in 2011.
Tampa Bay’s Matt Joyce and Boston’s Adrian Gonzalez also deserve some discussion here. Joyce led qualified batters with a .414 average during May. His current .348 average leads the AL through the games of June 6th. Gonzalez has shown no affect from moving to the AL from the NL this past offseason as he’s continued his hitting ways in Boston. He drove in a league leading 31 runs in May to go along with 9 HRs and a .341/.371/.618 line. He’s the lone player in either league to drive in 50 runs on the season.
Disappointing Team: Minnesota Twins
The Twins went 9-18 in March and April. May couldn’t have been any worse, but the team continued to be plagued by debilitating injuries and managed just 8 wins (19 losses) and currently hold the worst record in all of Major League Baseball. After two dismal months, what’s in store for the perennial AL Central contenders?
Top Rookie Hitter: Eric Hosmer
We all knew that sometime before the All Star Break we’d be seeing Hosmer’s name penciled into the lineup for the Kansas City Royals. We all likely knew, or at least assumed, that he’d make an impact once he actually did arrive. We just didn’t think we’d be seeing the team’s top offensive prospect so soon. Yet, Hosmer arrived early enough in the month of May to outperform all other AL rookies at the plate. He led the league in RBI (17, tied with Toronto’s J.P. Arencibia) and doubles (6, again tied with Arencibia). He hit .283/.321/.515 with 6 HRs.
Mark Trumbo of the Angels also had a strong May after being the top rookie at the plate in the month of April. He posted a .272/.343/.511 line with 7 HRs and 15 RBI. Trumbo also received some added job security once the team learned that Kendrys Morales would not return until the 2012 season.
Top Rookie Pitcher: Jeremy Hellickson
Early on the big name expected to impress on the mound and compete for AL Rookie of the Year honors was Hellickson, Tampa Bay’s young righty. May didn’t disappoint as the rookie went 4-1 in 5 starts (33.0 innings) with a 1.36 ERA, 23 strikeouts, 15 walks, and a 1.03 WHIP.
To look back at past Months in Review you can look at the following links: