Some things to take out of this second month of baseball including the rises of both the Diamondbacks and Red Sox, the continued early success of the Indians, and the continued struggles of the Minnesota Twins. It’s still far too early to truly predict anything, as any team could still end up anywhere, but the end of May usually sets up
The Arizona Diamondbacks had the biggest rise this month, going up 19 spots from 24th to 5th. The Colorado Rockies had the hardest fall; their May-worst 8-21 record shoots them down 20 spots from 3rd to 23rd.
Records are as of the games played on May 31st.
SLR = team’s record Since Last Rankings | Prev = Previous Ranking from April
1) Philadelphia Phillies (34-21 | 16-13 SLR | Prev: 1)
Placido Polanco continues to be a pleasant surprise at the plate, leading the team in average. The big four on the mound have been very good aside from a bad start here or there as well.
2) Cleveland Indians (32-20 | 14-12 SLR | Prev: 2)
It helps that the Indians play in what has panned out to be a very weak AL Central, but the Indians have yet to falter in the standings after two months. Having the best home record in the AL really helps thing as well.
3) St. Louis Cardinals (33-23 | 17-12 SLR | Prev: 7)
Don’t look now, but the Cardinals are near the top of the NL standings, all without any major help from Albert Pujols.
4) Florida Marlins (31-22 | 15-13 SLR | Prev: 4)
The continued development of Mike Stanton (who has 11 HR) has helped the Marlins hide the continued struggles of Hanley Ramirez, who is batting around .210 thus far. Josh Johnson returning to the DL is also depressing news to darken what has been an otherwise successful start to the season.
5) Arizona Diamondbacks (30-25 | 19-10 SLR | Prev: 24)
The Diamondbacks are baseball hottest team to end May, having won 15 of 17 games at one point during this month. The pitching has gone from the league’s worst up to around the middle of the pack, which does wonders for a team that has a pretty decent offense to back it up.
6) Boston Red Sox (30-25 | 19-10 SLR | Prev: 23)
The Red Sox completely went on fire this month. At different points, Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and David Ortiz all hit for staggering numbers, while the pitching of Clay Buchholz has stabilized considerably.
7) Milwaukee Brewers (30-25 | 17-12 SLR | Prev: 12)
The Brewers have the best home record in the majors, but the worst road record in the NL. This is displayed by the team losing seven in a row in early May, all on a road trip, then winning six in a row later on, all on a home stand.
8) New York Yankees (30-23 | 15-14 SLR | Prev: 5)
The Yankees played rather poorly for a stretch in early May, going only 3-10 in that stretch, but they’ve been better as of late. Oh, did something happen with Jorge Posada?
9) San Francisco Giants (29-25 | 16-12 SLR | Prev: 14)
The Giants ended the month on a bad note (losing six of their last eight), but the starting pitching, most notably Tim Lincecum, is getting itself back on track.
10) Tampa Bay Rays (29-25 | 14-13 SLR | Prev: 9)
Scott Shields, to the surprise of few, is pitching very well for the upstart Rays. Kyle Farnsworth, to the surprise of many, has been a mostly effective closer. Evan Longoria has continued to play alright following his return from injury but he’s not at his best yet.
11) Atlanta Braves (30-26 | 17-11 SLR | Prev: 18)
Brian McCann and Martin Prado are a good one-two punch for Atlanta’s offense, but Dan Uggla wasn’t brought in to hit .178 no matter what his power numbers indicate.
12) Seattle Mariners (28-26 | 15-11 SLR | Prev: 19)
After avoiding two games against Cleveland thanks to rain, the Mariners have gotten hot, going 11-3 since the Cleveland series that wasn’t. The pitching has carried the team well especially considering how awful the offense continues to be.
13) Detroit Tigers (28-26 | 16-11 SLR | Prev: 26)
A run where they went 10-1 was followed up by two rainouts and a five game losing streak. After a three game winning streak turned that around, two more rainouts prompted another three game losing streak before the Tigers ended the month with three more wins. This proves that Detroit’s greatest weakness, besides its inconsistent offense, is simple rain. Way to go.
14) Texas Rangers (29-26 | 13-15 SLR | Prev: 6)
Up until a bad start against the Royals, Colby Lewis had been pitching a very strong May, including a tough-luck loss against the Phillies where he only gave up two runs.
15) Toronto Blue Jays (28-27 | 15-13 SLR | Prev: 15)
I talked about Jose Bautista (who now has 20 HRs after two months) last month, so this month I’ll bring up Ricky Romero, whose pitched better in May has helped him win his last three decisions.
16) Los Angeles Angels (29-28 | 14-16 SLR | Prev: 8)
The Angels have been pretty average offensively, and while Dan Haren has continued to pitch very well, the bullpen issues and Jered Weaver’s return to earth leaves the Angels with an average pitching staff as well.
17) Cincinnati Reds (28-28 | 14-15 SLR | Prev: 10)
Have the Reds hit a wall? They lost six straight earlier in the month and are 3-11 in their last 14 games, granted most of that was on a road trip to Cleveland, Philly and Atlanta.
18) Oakland Athletics (27-29 | 14-15 SLR | Prev: 17)
Gio Gonzalez did not give up more than two runs in any start in May. With Trevor Cahill’s recent struggles, Gio has been Oakland’s best starting pitcher early on.
19) Pittsburgh Pirates (25-28 | 13-13 SLR | Prev: 22)
Quietly, Charlie Morton is having himself a very nice season as a Pirates starter. Neil Walker, with 6 HRs and a .265 average, is one of Pittsburgh’s biggest offensive threats.
20) Los Angeles Dodgers (26-30 | 12-16 SLR | Prev: 13)
Clayton Kershaw has pitched very well in May, getting four wins, 46 strikeouts and a 1.77 ERA in the month.
21) New York Mets (25-29 | 14-13 SLR | Prev: 25)
Jose Reyes is back in form, hitting .335 with 36 runs scored and 19 steals. There are rumors the Mets want to trade Reyes while he’s still doing well. Whether they trade him or not, it’s a big risk either way, as generic as that sounds.
22) Chicago White Sox (26-31 | 16-13 SLR | Prev: 29)
Paul Konerko and Carlos Quentin continue to be strong offensive presences for the White Sox, but for now Adam Dunn has been a big disappointment for the team, hitting .185 with only 5 HRs to show for it.
23) Colorado Rockies (25-29 | 8-21 SLR | Prev: 3)
At this time one year ago, Ubaldo Jimenez was a leading candidate for the Cy Young. After falling off the map to end that season, Jimenez has tried to recover this year, but either he hasn’t been very good, or when he has been good, his team lets him down. In fact, the team was rather terrible in general for all of May.
24) Baltimore Orioles (24-29 | 12-16 SLR | Prev: 16)
Pitching-wise, having young talent like Zach Britton and Jeremy Guthrie do well goes a long way towards a franchise revival. However, when a guy like an aged Vladimir Guerrero leads the team in batting average, the offense could clearly use a few more tweaks.
25) San Diego Padres (24-31 | 14-14 SLR | Prev: 28)
The Padres end the month on a strong note, winning four in a row, but there have been many games where the Padres struggle to score more than two runs.
26) Kansas City Royals (24-30 | 10-17 SLR | Prev: 11)
The Royals have slumped hard this month, so much so that Joakim Soria has played so poorly he’s no longer their closer.
27) Chicago Cubs (23-30 | 11-16 SLR | Prev: 20)
A bad month ends on a bad note as the Cubs waste an 8-inning, one-run gem by Carlos Zambrano by allowing six in the top of the ninth against the Astros to lose.
28) Washington Nationals (23-31 | 11-17 SLR | Prev: 21)
Jason Marquis is the only Nationals starter with a winning record, and his ERA is over 4.00, while the offense hasn’t been much better, currently 29th in the majors in batting average.
29) Houston Astros (21-34 | 11-17 SLR | Prev: 27)
Among positive notes is the strong play of Hunter Pence, who leads the team in many offensive categories. On… less positive notes, the Astros have given up the most runs in the majors.
30) Minnesota Twins (17-36 | 8-19 SLR | Prev: 30)
I seriously can’t believe that the Twins still haven’t gotten it together yet. They are last in runs scored, last in team ERA, and more recently have started to struggle defensively, normally a Minnesota strength. Injuries have been a factor, yes, but even still a team couldn’t be this bad from injuries alone. It’s still early to count out any Minnesota team, but this year, one would have to start wondering.