Paid for by RAM
Some say the MLB season doesn't truly begin until Memorial Day, and everything that came before was just a warm-up. That makes a certain amount of sense, given that the weather typically warms up for good after the holiday, but it also makes zero sense, given that every game played before Memorial Day matters just the same as those that come after.
So seeing as all the games count and are part of the narrative for every team, here are five impressive stats that tell the story of MLB in May. (All stats current as of May 31.)
.356/.484/.918: Aaron Judge's triple slash
Those are all real numbers that Judge has put up for the New York Yankees. Over his 73 at-bats in May, Judge got on base about half the time. He hit 12 home runs, tied for the most in MLB in May, and walked 19 times, more than all but six other players. Yes, he took around 40 fewer at-bats than Freddie Freeman, who also had an outstanding month (.396/.457/.730), but more at-bats wouldn't have diminished Judge's total walks or homers. The Yankees' star has been a blast to watch, and his outburst since returning from the injured list powered his team to a 19-9 record in May.
0.84: Michael Wacha's ERA
The San Diego Padres haven't had the dream season they were envisioning, but Wacha was a bright spot in May. He pitched at least six innings in all five of his May starts, including two seven-inning outings. He struck out 26 and walked just five while allowing three runs all month and giving up a single home run. The Padres are struggling, but Wacha has at least provided some stability the team can build on.
18-8: Texas Rangers' record in May
The biggest surprise of the MLB season so far hasn't been the surging Tampa Bay Rays or the unimaginably horrible Oakland Athletics (more on that later). It has been the Rangers, who currently sit atop the American League West. They went 18-8 in May, and their 35-19 overall record would put them at the top of any National League division. Their hitting has been so stupendous that they lead MLB with a .272 batting average and are second in on-base percentage (.340, behind the Rays) and fourth in slugging (.451). They also have the third-best team ERA in baseball, at 3.69. Don't look now, but these Rangers might be the real thing.
6-23: Oakland Athletics' record in May
Being wowed or impressed isn't always a positive thing. In this case, the A's are shaping up to be one of the worst teams of all time. The worst team in MLB history is considered to be the 1899 Cleveland Spiders, who finished the season with a 20-134 record. They also went 7-19 in May 1899, winning one more game than the 2023 A's. Overall, this year's Athletics are 12-45, and they didn't win their 10th game until May 16. All but one of their active starting pitchers has an ERA over six, and the remaining pitcher has a 4.37 ERA, which is good only if you compare it to the other A's starters. Oakland has a .222 team batting average and just cut the team's most expensive hitter, who made all of $3 million.
5 games: The most any NL team is trailing in the wild-card race
While the American League has teams at both ends of the spectrum — the Tampa Bay Rays are amazing, the Athletics are singularly awful — the National League is much more competitive. No team is running away, no team is straggling too far behind, and not a single team is more than five games out of the wild-card picture. That's a sign of parity, and whether intentional or not — the Pittsburgh Pirates' owner certainly didn't expect his team to be competitive this season, considering how little they spent on their payroll — it's making the National League incredibly interesting.