San Francisco Giants—May MVP
As a team, the Giants hitting improved in May compared to the month before. The WRC+ on the month was 83 compared to 66 in April. Granted, that’s still 17 percent below league average, but it still represents a big improvement on the previous month.
Whilst the team struck out slightly more, with their strikeout rate climbing from 23.7 to 24.9 percent, they also drew more walks. After walking at a 6.9 percent clip in April, they upped that to 8.4 percent in May.
The team batting average also climbed 14 points, the on-base percentage rose 20 points, and the slugging percentage increased by 38 points.
The most consistent hitter in May has been second baseman Joe Panik, who managed to slash .299/.386/.338 in 101 plate appearances in a welcome return to form.
In an impressive show of power, Tyler Austin hit five home runs in just 37 plate appearances this month for a whopping .765 slugging percentage.
However, nobody has made more of an impact than the irrepressible Pablo Sandoval, who hit .309/.367/.636 with five home runs in 60 plate appearances in May. For that, he is my MVP of the month.
He has been especially superb when called on to pinch-hit, going 4-for-10 with two home runs when entering the game as a pinch-hitter this month.
Albeit with his best baseball almost certainly in the past, Sandoval has shown it is too early to write him off completely. There has been a redemptive sweetness to his play this year, highlighted by some excellent performances in the month of May.
With declining attendance at Oracle Park, and amid increasing fan unrest at the poor overall performance of the team on the field, Sandoval is proving both an integral clubhouse leader and pure box office gold, as characterized by the ‘Let Pablo Pitch’ campaign.
His performance has more than merited his inclusion in the lineup, and increasingly it appears he will be key to any success the Giants have with the bats this season.