Month in Review, National League Edition: May
Earlier we took a look at the month of May from an American League standpoint. Let’s move on to the National League.
Best Team: Arizona Diamondbacks
The team from the desert brought the heat with them through the month of May, finishing with an NL best 19-10 record and putting the team within reach of the division lead. New General Manager Kevin Towers’ offseason work has already started to pay dividends as the team has cut back on the offensive strikeouts, shown an improved bullpen and starting rotation. The team is young and largely inexperienced, however, so they may feel the need to pursue a veteran presence or two at the trade deadline in order to stay in the hunt.
Best Starting Pitcher: Jair Jurrjens
Jurrjens is often overlooked when discussing the strengths of the Braves’ starting rotation, but the month of May continued to what has been a fantastic start for the under-the-radar righty. In 6 starts (43.2 innings) he posted a 5-1 record with a 1.65 ERA and 1.01 WHIP. While he has never been much of a strikeout pitcher (just 24 Ks in May) he currently holds the second best ERA amongst all qualified pitchers in the entire Major Leagues.
Yovani Gallardo of the Brewers (5-1, 2.25 ERA, 41 K, 40.0 IP) and Daniel Hudson of the D’backs (5-1, 3.02 ERA, 32 K, 41.2 IP) also deserve some credit for strong months.
Best Relief Pitcher: Brian Wilson
The Giants feared closer got off to a slow start after missing the first few weeks of the season. But May was good to the right hander as he went 4-0 with 6 saves in 13 appearances (13.2 innings). He allowed just one run in those appearances, pitching to a 0.66 ERA and 1.32 WHIP with 13 strikeouts.
Best Hitter: Jose Reyes
Many have been watching the shortstop closely as Reyes is set to become a free agent at the end of the 2011 season and has continued to be discussed as a potential trade target in July. Reyes has continued to set himself up well as he’s been one of the best offensive threats in the NL. In May he batted .364/.421/.555 with 9 doubles, 6 triples, and 11 stolen bases. Reyes has never been a big power threat but he’s making up for it in other ways.
Cincinnati’s Jay Bruce also deserves a mention. He posted a .342/.402/.739 line in May with a league leading 12 HR and 33 RBI.
Disappointing Team: Colorado Rockies
The Rockies got off to a fast start with a 17-9 March/April record and sat in first place at the start of May. Yet, things quickly turned for the worse as May progressed. The team finished a mere 8-21 in the month, dropping to the middle of a competitive NL West. Nagging injuries and poor performances have troubled the team since the end of the season’s first month, resulting in a number of personnel changes and lineup changes. The team should be better than 8-21 so look for this to prove to be an aberration and not the norm.
Top Rookie Hitter: Justin Turner
Injuries continued to hamper the Mets but Turner proved to be a source of hope when he took over third base duties after David Wright went down. The longtime minor league veteran hit .325/.378/.458 with just 10 strikeouts in 83 at bats. He also led all rookies with 20 RBI.
Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman (.312/..371/.430, 2 HR, 9 RBI), Chicago’s Darwin Barney (.296/.316/.343, 11 RBI), and Arizona’s Juan Miranda (.262/.377/.538, 4 HR, 12 RBI) also had strong months.
Top Rookie Pitcher: Dillon Gee
Arizona starter Josh Collmenter had a strong May, going 2-1 with a 1.38 ERA in 6 appearances (4 starts) but was overall outperformed by the Mets’ Gee. In 7 appearances (5 starts) the righty has gone 3-0 with a 3.48 ERA and 1.13 WHIP. He started the season in the minor leagues but has since won over a spot in the injury riddled Mets rotation and it doesn’t appear that he’ll be moving once some of the injured starters return.
Previous Months in Review can be found through the following links: