May is coming to a close, and that means another month is under the belt of this year’s MLB season. Last month, teams got off to hot starts, slow starts, and some teams just kind of existed. As another month has gone by, it is important to look at the teams that are on the rise and fall as the season reaches it’s summer stretch.
Surprise: Arizona Diamondbacks (31-19)
In a division constantly dominated by the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants, the Diamondbacks have always seemingly been the third horse in that race. However, this season is shaping out very differently. Along with the scorching hot Colorado Rockies, the Diamondbacks find themselves one game behind the Rockies for the best record in the National League. Paul Goldschmidt and Jake Lamb are leading the charge with their productivity and power at the plate, each with 11 and 14 homeruns respectively. Additionally, the D-Backs rank fifth in batting average (.266), seventh in on-base percentage (.332), third in runs (252), second in homeruns (71) , and second in slugging percentage (.457). This is a team that no one saw coming, and it will be interesting to see if they can maintain this pace of play into and through June.
Disappointment: Philadelphia Phillies (16-30)
For a team that started out pretty strong, the Phillies have done nothing but flounder in the month of May. The Phillies find themselves with the worst record in the National League and all of MLB. I had the opportunity to drop in on the second game of the Phillies’ series against the Colorado Rockies this past week, and it was nothing but ugly. I have never seen a lifelessness quite like the kind displayed by the Phillies that night, and it was almost sad. Citizen’s Bank Park rapidly emptied as the innings went on, and there was a silence that shouldn’t be present in any Philadelphia arena. The Phillies rank eighteenth in batting average (.244), twenty-fifth in on-base percentage (.311), twenty-seventh in runs (192), twenty-fifth in homeruns (48), and twenty-third in slugging percentage (.403), which is nothing short of abysmal. With such a drastic slide in the standings, it is difficult to see the Phillies doing well in the next coming months due to all the momentum lost.
Surprise: San Francisco Giants (20-30)
Now, a losing record is hardly something to hang your hat on, but in the month of May alone, the Giants have been one of MLB’s better teams. What lands them in the surprise column more than anything is the improvement as a team they have displayed this past month. Their pitching staff has gotten better, and the offense has become much more efficient, spearheaded behind Buster Posey. While they are still in the bottom half of the league in regards to offensive rankings, they have climbed. Plus, they’re beginning to find their way back up the standings, as they are only four games out from a wild card spot.
Disappointment: New York Mets (20-26)
The Mets enjoyed two seasons of success the past two seasons, but all signs point to that being a thing solidly in the past. This team seems to be imploding and it shows. No teams takes them as a threat anymore, and between internal issues in the clubhouse and ineffectiveness on the field, they are likely to not see success for a long time. Their offense isn’t terrible, but their defense and pitching is. The Mets rank thirtieth in ERA (5.00), batting average against (.268), and thirtieth in walks plus hits per innings pitched (1.47). It just goes to show that defense wins games, and the Mets are not doing either. It’s safe to say the Mets are on a fast track to not playing in October, but at least New York has the Yankees.
Surprise: Houston Astros (33-16)
Who would’ve thought that the Houston Astros would’ve ended up being the best team in baseball so far this year? They are on an absolute tear, and no team, whatever the caliber, can stop them. The Astros rank fifth in batting average (.266), sixth in on-base percentage (.334), seventh in runs (239), and fourth in homeruns (70). Teams just cannot keep Houston off the bases. Additionally, they have one of the most effective pitching staffs in the league, all of which are lock down pitchers. The Astros have margin for error and space to give in the standings, but the likelihood of that happening is slim to none.
Disappointment: Pittsburgh Pirates (22-27)
For the past several seasons, the Pirates have always either been solidly in the wild card hunt or the leader in the NL Central division. Neither is the case so far this year. They are, as a whole, not effective in any facet of the game in the slightest. They are near the bottom of the league’s offensive, defensive, and pitching rankings. It’ll be odd watching October baseball without the Bucs somewhere in the mix, and while there is time to turn things around, it is difficult to see that hope come to fruition.