May is gone and we're into June.
Before we get into the third month of the season, let's take a look back at May and hand out some awards. There were plenty of great performances in the past month when taking a look back. Several teams made bold moves to the top in the past month and are looking to continue their strong play in June.
AL Pitcher of the Month: Justin Verlander, SP, Detroit Tigers
Verlander pushed a bad April out of his mind and dominated just about everyone he faced in May. He blew away hitters and posted 56 strikeouts in May in just 41.1 innings. Verlander had five wins in six May starts and had an ERA of 1.52 and WHIP of .90. He held hitters to a .178 batting average in May.
He brought his ERA from 6.75 at the beginning of the month down to 3.63 and allowed just one homer in the month of May. More importantly, his play—along with the play of some of the other Tiger starters—helped secure a first place spot for the Tigers as they entered June.
Honorable mention: Zack Greinke (Royals), Rick Porcello (Tigers), Edwin Jackson (Tigers), CC Sabathia (Yankees), and Roy Halladay (Blue Jays)
NL Pitcher of the Month: Trevor Hoffman, RP, Milwaukee Brewers
The Brewers closer was perfect in closing games in May, going 11-for-11 and helping shut the door in Brewer wins. Even though Hoffman is no kid anymore, the closer is one of the most prolific closers in history and that continues with the Brewers. He didn't give up a run in May and Brewers fans didn't cringe either when he walked onto the field to the familiar tune of "Hells Bells" by AC/DC.
Honorable mention: Francisco Rodriguez (Mets), Jake Peavy (Padres), Chris Carpenter (Cardinals), John Maine (Mets), and Josh Johnson (Marlins)
AL Player of the Month: Mark Teixeira, 1B, New York Yankees
After a very rocky beginning in pinstripes, Teixeira turned it way up in May, clubbing 13 homers and knocking in 34 batters. He batted .342 and also totalled 24 runs and nine doubles. He also led the charge in the field, as the Yankees have gone on a record run in not making any errors in consecutive games.
The return of Alex Rodriguez has definitely helped Teixeira and in turn, the team has bolted up the standings and into first place. With the hot summer months and the hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium, there is no question that he most likely continue the charge as we head into June and July.
Honorable mention: Carl Crawford (Rays), Joe Mauer (Twins), Michael Cuddyer (Twins), Torii Hunter (Angels), and Jason Bay (Red Sox)
NL Player of the Month: Justin Upton, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks
The younger Upton has finally arrived to the big leagues. Upton displayed his all-around potential in May hitting .374 with seven homers, 19 RBI, and five steals. He also had four triples and scored 24 runs.
He scorched pitching and also helped provide protection for some of the other Arizona bats including Mark Reynolds and the youngster, Gerardo Parra. Even though the D-backs are not in first place, Upton is leading the charge in getting within reach of the Dodgers.
Honorable mention: Prince Fielder (Brewers), Raul Ibanez (Phillies), Brandon Phillips (Reds), David Wright (Mets), and Ryan Howard (Phillies)
AL Rookie of the Month: Andrew Bailey, RP, Oakland Athletics
Bailey actually had a better month in April, but May wasn't terrible either. Bailey picked up two wins in relief for the A's in May and also closed out two games. He struck out 20 in 16.2 innings and sported an ERA of 3.24. The A's seem to have faith in Bailey as he already has appeared in 23 games this season and pitched 32.1 innings (all in relief).
The A's sport a lot of young arms and Bailey may the best among them.
Honorable mention: Trevor Cahill (Athletics), Elvis Andrus (Rangers), Koji Uehara (Orioles), Nolan Reimold (Orioles), and Ryan Perry (Tigers)
NL Rookie of the Month: Gerardo Parra, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks
Parra was called up in May after injuries and lack of production riddled the Diamondbacks. Along with Upton, Parra has been a bright spot near the top of the line-up. In just 16 games, Parra has 16 RBI to go along with his .319 batting average. He has three triples and three doubles and has scored 10 times in May.
His surge, to go along with Upton, Byrnes, and Chris Young in the outfield has to have Diamondbacks officials excited for the future.
Honorable mention: Luke Gregerson (Padres), Kenshin Kawakami (Braves), Colby Rasmus (Cardinals), Bobby Scales (Cubs), and Jordan Zimmermann
Biggest Surprise: Texas Rangers
The team that usually has no pitching has received solid pitching to open the season as the Rangers sit atop the AL West. The team has also posted a 12-11 record on the road. The team posted 20 wins in May. Kevin Millwood, Brandon McCarthy, and Scott Feldman are amongst the leaders when it comes to the starting pitching.
Closer Frank Francisco can't be left out of the discussion either as he holds a minuscule 0.82 ERA with 11 saves.
Even though Chris Davis and his strikeout rate has been a hot topic, the Rangers are still mashing as Michael Young, Ian Kinsler, Nelson Cruz, and Hank Blalock have all been big in the first two months of the season. If Josh Hamilton ever gets it going and the pitching hangs on, this could be a dangerous team as the summer continues.
Team of the Month: Milwaukee Brewers
In the National League, the Brewers are perhaps another surprise as they sit up top in the NL Central. With 18 wins in May, the Brewers bolted up and past the Cardinals and into first place. Even as second baseman Rickie Weeks, who was having his best season, went down with a season-ending injury, the Brewers continued their hot play. Prince Fielder had 31 RBI's in May and Ryan Braun and Mike Cameron have continued to produce from their outfield spots.
Even though starters Jeff Suppan and Manny Parra have ERAs over 5.00, the bullpen has been a bright spot. Hoffman saved 11 games in May and the team has six relievers who have ERAs under 4.00. Yovani Gallardo has also been injury-free to start the season and has five wins and a 3.18 ERA. This team could be a buyer in the coming months as they look to get into the postseason once again.
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