May 2016 – Striking Out Like No Other

It’s been a great month of baseball since we last did a recap. The Orioles are still playing better than anyone ever anticipated, the Astros are still below .500, and the Red Sox may have one of the most consistent hitting teams in history.

On May 26, the Red Sox broke news because Jackie Bradley Jr. did not get a hit. That was the first time in 30 games that he hadn’t gotten a hit.

Jackie Bradley Jr.

That would be even bigger news if it were the only player with a hitting streak of that kind. However, Boston’s shortstop still has a streak going that has already reached 25 games.

Both players had a streak of more than 20 games before Bradley had a hitless night.

The last time two teammates had a 20+ game hitting streak at the same time was in 2011. It happened to be the Atlanta Braves.

In other news, there were a number of big name debuts last month. Julio Urias came up on May 27.

He’s probably going to be the youngest player to make his debut this year. Sadly, his age showed, and Urias got rocked pretty hard. He gave up 3 ER, 4 BB and 5 hits in only 2.2 innings.

A few first round picks that debuted in May include Chris Stratton, Colin Moran , and Matt Bush (at age 30!).

The majors have seen a lot of young talent take off already this year. Michael Fulmer and Nomar Mazara made their debuts in April, but have earned a spot in constant conversation.

In May, Fulmer went 3-1 in 5 starts. He finished with a 4.03 ERA and 32 strikeouts in 29 innings.

Nomar Mazara

Nomar Mazara has, on the other hand, improved his power while lowering his average. In May, Mazara finished with a .283 average and 7 HR. He had 17 RBI and 12 Runs scored to boot.

At the moment, these two young players are the clear favorites for the AL Rookie of the Year.

The National League has a few great young stars as well. Most of you know all about Trevor Story who started off on a record pace.

Story maintained his batting average, but fell off in run production. He “only” had 4 HR with 16 RBI in May.

Those are a significant drop off from what Story started the season with, but are still ROY worthy. Story is the cream of the crop when it comes to young talent in the National League.

Aledmys Diaz and Kenta Maeda were both phenomenal in their first month in the majors but have cooled off significantly.

Maeda’s May included a 5.04 ERA with 1.20 WHIP. Both of those numbers are significant increases over April’s numbers. Diaz continued his run production, but dropped his average significantly.

While hitting 3 HR, scoring 18 runs, and driving in another 13, Diaz only had a .267 average for the month. The National League is going to have an interesting race for the ROY.

Pitching has been inspired in the Majors this year. Clayton Kershaw may have had the best month of his career. Kershaw went 5-0 with a .91 ERA and 65 strikeouts.

He became the 4th pitcher to reach all of those stats while setting the record for strikeouts in a month where he had 5 or fewer walks.

For the record, he Kershaw only walked 2 batters, and has allowed 5 walks on the season.

Jake Arrieta wasn’t too bad as he posted a 2.08 ERA and 4-0 record. Arrieta now has the 3rd longest consecutive wins streak in MLB history.

Arrieta has won his last 20 decisions. Most (healthy) starting pitchers have at least 11 starts at this point.

There are now 3 starters who have 9 wins in 11 starts- Strasburg (9-0), Arrieta (9-0), and Sale (9-1). There are also currently 7 starters with an ERA at 2.25 or lower.

We’ll take a look at hitting across the league, but we should just start with the Red Sox line up (again). Mookie Betts finished May with a .298 average, 8 HR and 23 RBI.

Ortiz finished at .347 with 9 HR and 28 RBI. Not to be outdone, Jackie Bradley (and his hit streak) finished with a .381 average, 8 HR, and 24 RBI.

That’s right, the best hitters for the Red Sox combined for 25 HR, and 75 RBI in May! Speaking of Ortiz, he’s besting most of his career numbers.

The last time he had this many HR at the end of may was in 2006.

Aside from the Red Sox, there are actually other hitters who are doing well. After  somewhat average start to the season, Trout has picked it up in every category.

Trout had 7 HR, 27 RBI, and 5 SB in May. He also improved his average to the tune of .340 with a .445 OBP for the month.

Ben Zobrist

Ben Zobrist has shown himself to be one of the best pick-ups by any team in the majors. In May, Zobrist had a .406 average while hitting 6 HR. He scored 25 runs and had 25 RBI.

Zobrist may end up being the cream of the crop in MLB’s 2015 off season acquisition period.

An interesting player to watch is Bryce Harper. In May, Harper hit a saddening .200 which would seem absolutely terrible if he didn’t have 4 HR and a .422 OBP.

Harper had 31 walks in May, with the Cubs offering almost half of those.

But, Harper isn’t getting payed to only take walks, so it’ll be interesting to see how he adjusts as time passes.

Sadly, there are a number of injuries that are affecting baseball teams right now.

One of the most devastating plays of the season may have taken place when Mike Moustakas and Alex Gordon were trying to field a pop up in foul territory on May 22.

The Royals were hoping to get away unscathed, but found that Moustakas tore his ACL and Gordon broke his wrist.

Yovani Gallardo

The Orioles had a lot of hope that Yovani Gallardo would help them push towards the playoffs this season. Sadly, he had a 7.00 ERA before going on the DL with shoulder issues.

He seems to be rehabbing well. Glen Perkins is trying are to work his way back from a shoulder strain.

Adding a closer to the Twins’ roster isn’t going to put them in the playoffs, but it’s good news for a franchise that’s already short on talent

There was a scare with Henderson Alvarez’s recovery, but he’s back to playing catch and should be able to push forward.

Alvarez looked great, but he won’t be pitching for at least a couple of months. Brock Holt was originally placed on a 7 day concussion protocol DL.

Holt has been transferred to the 15 day DL, not that Boston’s offense is struggling.

There are a few other big names fighting injuries. Hunter Pence attempted to beat out an infield single and it landed him on the DL.

With a severe strain to his hamstring, Pence is likely out for a month or more. The Giants will miss his skillset, but should be okay without him.

Sonny Gray, on the other hand, needs to find himself while he’s on the disabled list. Gray has looked bad all season.

The A’s claim that he has a strained trapezius, but there may be more of an issue than that. After competing for the Cy Young last year, Gray has a 6.19 ERA and 1.65 WHIP.

Gray is hoping to make it back on June 10. Felix Hernandez was having a good season until struggling against the Twins.

Hernandez gave up 6 earned runs, and found himself on the disabled list.

If you’re interested in records, May had a few of those too. The Orioles set a record for most strikeouts (as a team) in 3 games.

They started the series off by striking out 19 times. Fans assumed that things could only get better.

The Orioles “only” struck out 18 times in game 2 and 15 times in game 3. That was enough to set a record at 52 times in 3 games.

The Orioles did their part to set a league-wide record. The league set a record for strikeouts in a calendar month with an eye-popping 6,726.

The previous record was 6,591 set in September of 2015. Strikeouts are trending, and I’m not a huge fan.

MLB just handed down a season-long suspension for Marlon Byrd. It’s his second time testing positive for PED’s. Byrd is the second Indians’ outfielder this season to be caught using PED’s.

Given his age (38), this suspension could be a career ending decision. He may never play another game in the majors.

It seems somewhat fitting for a guy who had 82 Homeruns from 2002-2012 and 77 HR in his 4 seasons since turning 35.

At the opposite end of the spectrum is Jose Reyes. Reyes has missed the start of the season with a suspension resulting from domestic violence issues.

Reyes has “served his time” in the eyes of MLB.

As such, he’s coming back unencumbered and getting to play in one of the best offensive parks in the league.

He’ll get to rejoin his teammates and enjoy Coors Field where he averages more than 1 run per game.

The question is – where does he fit in? Reyes may have to learn a new position if he wants to have a chance at playing regularly.

May was a great time to watch the game – whether you like dominating offenses, elite pitching, or even base stealing, you could find a solid amount of all of the above. What was your favorite part of the month?