Paired with the new Mariners of the month feature, Prospect Insider will be highlighting a couple of outstanding performances by players across the major leagues each month as well. Since the M’s players have a seperate feature, they will not be included in these posts. In case you missed it, Robinson Cano and Felix Hernandez were the Mariners of the month for May. Let’s take a look at a pair of players who’ve stood out amongst their peers over the past 31 days.
Yasiel Puig, OF, LAD — 128 PA, .398/.492/.731, 240 wRC+, 10 2B, 8 HR, 25 RBI
Many have come to love the exploits of the Cuban sensation while others can’t stand his antics, but there’s little doubt that Puig has established himself as one of the top hitters in baseball — especially after his performance in May. Puig led all of baseball in batting average and on base percentage and his 240 wRC+ was 23 points higher than Seth Smith, the next highest hitter, who put up a 217 mark of his own. Although his power numbers weren’t as historic as those of Toronto Blue Jays slugger Edwin Encarnacion — his 16 long balls tied the American League record for home runs in the month of May set by Mickey Mantle in 1956 — he did reach base in every single game he played this past month, and carried a streak of 33 games of reaching base safely into Monday night’s game against the Chicago White Sox.
Puig’s May also included 12 games with two or more hits and there were only two games in which he did not reach base via the hit. For a little bit of context, the 2.4 fWAR he put up in May was more than the total fWAR that Giancarlo Stanton, Yoenis Cespedes, and Prince Fielder finished the 2013 season with. The sky truly is the limit for the 23-year old, and there really is no predicting what exactly he’ll do next.
Edwin Encarnacion, 1B/DH, TOR — 130 PA, .281/.369/.763, 208 wRC+, 5 2B, 16 HR, 33 RBI
Corey Kluber, SP, CLE — 6 GS, 4-0, 43 IP, 2.09 ERA, 1.74 FIP, 1.77 xFIP, 60 K, 8 BB
The Cleveland Indians’ ace is off to a very strong 2014 after establishing himself as a major league starter last year. In six May starts, the right-hander didn’t complete at least seven innings of work on just one occasion — he lasted just six and two-thirds against the Tampa Bay Rays on May 9. He also struck out at least eight batters in all six of those starts, including 12 and 13 strikeout performances. Kluber’s 12.56 strikeouts per nine innings was the highest of any pitcher in May, and he walked just eight batters compared to 60 punch outs.
Only Aaron Harang — yes, that Aaron Harang — had a lower FIP than Kluber did in May, and his xFIP was tops in all of baseball. Perhaps the only real drawback to the 28-year old’s month of May was that he gave up three home runs. Other than that, you’d be hard pressed to find a better pitcher in baseball over the last 31 days.
Masahiro Tanaka, SP, NYY — 6 GS, 5-1, 1.88 ERA, 2.20 FIP, 2.50 xFIP, 42 K, 6 BB