Friday, June 2, 2023

May 2023 in Review [feat. Yandy Diaz]


Because I was running around the last few days, and I foolishly thought I'd still have time to preprogram posts, it went a little dark around here for a few games. Don't think I missed a great deal. Yanks are bringing back Stanton and Donaldson, Scherzer's complaining again, same ol same ol.

So yeah, May 2023. Fun month of baseball. Lots of interesting developments, and a lot that didn't shock me at all. 

First, let's go back to the predictions I made back at the end of April for this month:

1. The bubble pops for a team that is currently 1st in their division. This could mean the Pirates, Rays, Rangers, Diamondbacks or Twins. Or the Braves though probably not the Braves. This happened to the Pirates. Not the other ones though, though the D-Backs slipped a bit.

2. A player that is currently having a rough go at it comes to life and becomes the absolute center of the conversation. This describes Nathan Eovaldi perfectly.

3. Verlander impresses in his first month as a Met. 2-2, 4.80. So...not really?

4. A 2022 rookie we all counted out bursts back onto the scene in a big way for a team entering the conversation. Not really, honestly.

5. Kimbrel gets his 400th save while keeping the closer job in Philly. Yes. Admittedly, I gave myself an easy one.

So let's talk about 5 things from May 2023 that absolutely no one could predict.

1. Bryce Miller breaking records through his first 5 starts. He's been brought back to size a bit after his Yankees shellacking, but til then he had a 1.15 ERA, 13 hits and 4 runs. A lot of his totals have been adjusted a little after giving up 11 hits and 8 runs, but the Mariners' farm system was still able to bring up another excellent young arm that will hopefully continue to help them out going forward.

2. The Cubs completely fall apart. Not that they were doing too well before, but I saw them as a fun, middle-of-the-pack potential competitor that had a lot of strengths and a lot of great performances. Then the second half of this month, the Cubs had this absolutely torrid run where not only did they lose Justin Steele and Cody Bellinger, but they had 5 games where they gave up 9 or more runs, and leveled themselves out to 24-31, giving them a last place record in a division that also has a struggling Cardinals team and those pesky Reds. Even with Hoerner, Swanson, Stroman and the now-hurt Steele doing well, they're outmatched in a lot of places and have been looking very rough. Hopefully they pick up in June.

3. Yennier Cano takes 22 innings before allowing a run. I...I still can't believe it. Even if he's had 3 ER since, he's still one of the best relievers in the game right now and I hope he's enjoying himself.

4. The Rangers and their run-scoring. They did some of this in April but it didn't become an OMG trend until this month. This team currently has 6 guys with 29 or more RBIs, and 2 guys, Semien and Garcia, with 40 or more. Adolis Garcia is the biggest example of a guy that brings in a lot of runs, as he's got 49 RBIs and it's just now June. The Rangers scored 10 or more runs 7 times this month. Absolutely insane. Even better that the pitching's been strong behind them, despite deGrom not being there.

5. Just how many homers Pete Alonso would get to after 2 months. He's at 20. I heard a lot of gripes after his 2019 that he was just a victim of changes in ball texture and would never reach that homer level again and he's just...kept hitting home runs ever since. He's had 166 since coming up. Incredible. 

Alternatively, here are 5 things from May 2023 that a lot of people could have predicted:

1. Astros catch fire and creep up the division once Altuve returns. Of course they did. Of course they're good again.

2. Judge absolutely catches fire right from the moment he gets off the IL. You all should expect this by now.

3. Fernando Tatis Jr. avoids the cries of 'steroids' and gets right back to what he was doing before 2022. I do think it sucks that there's a small asterisk appearing whenever Tatis does well now, but he's trying his best to recapture the goodwill, and him doing well as the team's still struggling does help.

4. What's this? Chris Sale's feeling forearm tightness again?

5. The divisional evening of schedules continues to affect standings. The AL East is all doing well, and both central divisions are doing poorly, just because they have to play better, non-divisional teams too much. 

Going forward now, here are my picks for the 5 Most Important Players of May 2023:

1. Ronald Acuna Jr., Atlanta Braves
2. Aaron Judge, New York Yankees
3. Freddie Freeman, Los Angeles Dodgers
4. Sonny Gray, Minnesota Twins
5. Yandy Diaz, Tampa Bay Rays [even with the injury break]

And finally, 5 bold predictions for June 2022:

1. There's going to be a big rookie that comes up this month and it's going to piss everybody off that Topps will immediately refer to them as a call-up and not make rookie cards of them until 2024.

2. The Cardinals are gonna do what the Astros did this month, and become good and piss me off.

3. The entities that always do well in June, including Kyle Schwarber and the Toronto Blue Jays, will have nice months.

4. An oft-injured/oft-delayed player [Sixto Sanchez, Andrew Painter, Carlos Rodon, maybe Cole Hamels] finally gets back to the majors and does something big.

5. A Rays reliever says or does something stupid this month. Again, I'm making them easier to get right.

So, that was a decent May, but I bet June's gonna have some cool developments as well.

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