Blog Entry

Players of the Month: Bruce, Verlander/Sanchez

Posted on: June 1, 2011 12:22 pm
Edited on: June 1, 2011 2:14 pm

By Matt Snyder

May mostly belonged to the pitcher. Sure, there were some pretty stellar performances by hitters (including our selection, Jay Bruce), but the month belonged to dominant pitching as a whole.

May's Best
Expert Batter Pitcher
Knobler Bruce Verlander
Miller Bruce Verlander
Brunell Joyce Kershaw
Rosecrans Bruce Putz
Snyder Bruce Sanchez
Fantasy Bruce Sanchez
Just look at some of the names we had to choose from when it came to strong pitching performances in May.

The following pitchers threw at least 20 innings and had an ERA below 2.00: Josh Beckett, Erik Bedard, Jeremy Hellickson, Josh Collmenter, Tim Lincecum, Anibal Sanchez, Jair Jurrjens, Gio Gonzalez, Clayton Kershaw and Ryan Vogelsong. There were eight more at 2.25 or below for the month (again, with at least 20 IP). And this is only starting pitchers, as there have been several dominant relievers, too. Basically, this was a tough choice, and our variety of selections backs that up. In cases like this, there aren't really any wrong answers -- just lots of right answers.

On the offensive end, Jose Bautista continued to silence doubters. In April, he was showing 2010 was no fluke and in May he was showing April sure wasn't either. He hit .360 with 11 home runs, 23 RBI and a 1.267 OPS. We also saw Curtis Granderson and David Ortiz club 10 homers in the month while Matt Joyce hit .414. Adrian Gonzalez drove home 31 runs to go with his nine homers in the month, while Jose Reyes also starred (.364 average, nine doubles, six triples, 11 steals). Still, they all fell slightly short in our eyes to the emergence of Jay Bruce as a star.

The 24-year-old Reds right fielder has shown flashes of brilliance throughout his young career, but staying consistent has been a problem. In May, it wasn't. He led the majors with 12 home runs and 33 RBI, while also hitting .342 with a 1.140 OPS. He also led in total bases and tied for the lead in extra-base hits. Only Gonzalez, Reyes and Hunter Pence collected more total hits and only Granderson scored more runs in the month.

Click here to see last month's selections.

Batter of the Month
Danny Knobler Scott Miller
Jay Bruce Jay Bruce, Reds
When I saw Bruce last week in Philly, he told me he's looking for consistency. If he ever has six consistent months like this one, he'd hit 72 homers with 198 RBI. Bruce also believes he's become a better hitter. So do I. Remember, he just turned 24. When Adrian Gonzalez turned 24, he was in his first season as a big-league regular. Same with Joey Votto. This could well be the start of something big.
Jay Bruce Jay Bruce, Reds
We're watching a hitter mature right before our eyes. To actually put together a better month than Boston's Adrian Gonzalez is a spectacular month, but Bruce has shifted me away from Gonzo with his incredible production. Added bonus: He's scorching lefties, too.
Evan Brunell C. Trent Rosecrans
Matt Joyce Matt Joyce, Rays
Let's get one thing straight -- Joyce is no Jose Bautista, but he still had a fine month, ripping opposing pitchers for a .414 average and tacking on 14 extra-base hits. His emergence has hid the decline of Sam Fuld and been a major reason why the Rays are hanging around the top of the AL East. No other batter cracked the .400 mark in May.
Jay Bruce Jay Bruce, Reds
Not only did Bruce hit .342/.402/.739 this month, he also had 12 homers and 33 RBI. But it's not just the raw numbers. He came through when his team needed him the most (even if Cincy didn't always finish it off) with five hits during the month that tied games or gave the Reds the lead in the sixth inning or later -- the most in baseball in that category.
Matt Snyder Fantasy -- Al Melchior
Jay Bruce Jay Bruce, Reds
He's been good before in his career, but never this consistent or deadly. We knew the 2007 Minor League Player of the Year had the potential, and at age 24 he's showing its at the big-league level. With the Bruce power surge, the Reds now have two MVP-caliber players. 
Jay Bruce Jay Bruce, Reds
After a sluggish April, Bruce went on to lead all hitters in overall production in both Rotisserie and Head-to-Head Fantasy formats for the month of May. Not only did he bang a dozen homers, but Bruce was one of only two players to drive in more than 30 runs for the month.
Pitcher of the Month
Knobler Miller
Justin Verlander Justin Verlander, Tigers
May was a great month for pitchers, and the only way to decide was to think back to who had the most memorable games. Let's see, who threw his second career no-hitter? And who threw 7 2/3 shutout innings against an on-fire Red Sox team? Answer: Justin Verlander. I know, he also allowed six runs to the Rays, which kept his May ERA (2.62) from looking as flashy as Josh Beckett's 1.00. Two blown saves cost Beckett a 4-1 month. But he didn't throw a no-hitter.
Justin Verlander Justin Verlander, Tigers
I like horses. No, not Secretariat. Dominant workhorses. And while Atlanta's Jair Jurrjens had a great month, Verlander threw a no-hitter AND stuck around through 132 pitches the other night in knocking down Boston, one of the toughest lineups in the game. Six starts, 33 Ks and one hellacious WHIP.
Brunell Rosecrans
Clayton Kershaw Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
Kershaw doesn't have the lowest ERA of any starting pitcher in May, but he does check in at 1.77. What he holds over others is strikeouts, plus luck. Kershaw's 46 punchouts in May were big and he hasn't gotten away with as much as others have, evidenced by Kershaw's 2.57 xFIP in May.
J.J. Putz J.J. Putz, Diamondbacks
The Diamondbacks entered May 6 1/2 games out of first place in the NL West and end it a half-game up on the defending World Series champs. One of the biggest reasons for the team's turnaround is the bullpen, led by closer J.J. Putz who had 11 saves and didn't allow an earned run all month.
Snyder Fantasy -- Scott White
Anibal Sanchez Anibal Sanchez, Marlins
Toss up between Jurrjens and Sanchez, but there's no wrong answer this month. I'm going with Sanchez because he stepped up with Josh Johnson down, going 4-0 with a 1.66 ERA, 0.92 WHIP and 44 strikeouts in six starts, averaging more than seven innings per start.
Anibal Sanchez Anibal Sanchez, Marlins
Sanchez's five-start stretch to end May was about as good as you'll ever see. He allowed no earned runs in three of those starts, pitching seven innings or more in all five. His 4-0 record, 1.66 ERA, 0.92 WHIP and strikeout per inning for the month were enough to make him the highest-scoring pitcher in Fantasy, even over Justin Verlander and his no-hitter.

Danny Knobler and Scott Miller are Senior MLB Writers; Evan Brunell, C. Trent Rosecrans and Matt Snyder are Eye on Baseball Bloggers; Al Melchior is a Fantasy Data Analyst; and Scott White is a Fantasy Writer.

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Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 20, 2011 10:23 pm
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Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 18, 2011 4:01 pm
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Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 8, 2011 5:40 am

Players of the Month: Bruce, Verlander/Sanchez

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Since: Aug 28, 2006
Posted on: June 4, 2011 2:32 pm

Players of the Month: Bruce, Verlander/Sanchez

Xskumbadx.  You have got to be kidding me.  The guy has one solid month for the first time in his career... and he is a lock for .300/35/110?  ummmm Ok.  I think you need a big reality check.  Don't get me wrong. I think Jay Bruce is a stand out guy, and has the potential to be a lock. But don't kid yourself after one month bud.  Also being a better prospect means ZERO and has never ment much if it doesnt translate into big league success.  Joey Votto has been a stud for about 2-3 years now.  Bruce??? One month.  They shouldnt even be in the same topic of studness just yet.

Since: Oct 24, 2006
Posted on: June 4, 2011 12:34 pm

Players of the Month: Bruce, Verlander/Sanchez

People commenting on Bruce that he is a result of batting after Votto are kidding themselves. What you may not remember, because no one remembers anything after a few days anyway - is that in the minors, Bruce was the BETTER prospect over Votto. When he hits fifth, he has NOTHING protecting him. They moved him upto 4th to avoid he IBs he has been getting. He is 24, but in his 4th major league season. This guy is a lock .300/35/110 guy for the next 6-8 years. Don't hate on him because you forgot he has ALWAYS been ahead of Votto in the scouts eyes. At 24, he may do what Votto did at 26 - win an MVP

Since: Sep 11, 2006
Posted on: June 3, 2011 9:51 pm

Players of the Month: Bruce, Verlander/Sanchez

Oooh .. aaahh.  Let's all bend over and do the we're not worthy because of a no-hitter.

Jurrgens 5-1 with a 1.65 ERA and 1.00 WHIP was better than Verlander and really better than Sanchez when you consider he beat Philly TWICE and Cincy and Milwaukee (both very good offenses) once each.  His loss was a 2-1 affair in Arizona.  Five wins against solid offensive teams despite having the woeful Braves offense behind him!

I don't care what Verlander did for one game.  He finished the month 3-0 with a 2.62 ERA and a .90 WHIP.  Yeah, the WHIP is slightly better, but the ERA isn't even close.  He also couldn't carry his team to wins in games versus the Yankees and Boston (I won't ding him for the second start against Boston).  

It's almost like the Gold Glove.  If someone can make a flashy play or two but is mediocre otherwise, they tend to win the award over the guys who continually make the solid plays.  So sad.

Since: Jun 3, 2011
Posted on: June 3, 2011 1:30 pm

Players of the Month: Bruce, Verlander/Sanchez

I haven't missed a Reds game all season.  Bruce has been batting clean up for over a week now against right handers while Rolen bats cleanup against left handers.

Since: Apr 12, 2007
Posted on: June 3, 2011 1:11 pm

Players of the Month: Bruce, Verlander/Sanchez

Bruce doesn't (or hasn't been) bat(ting) after Votto.  Bruce has typically batted 5th after Rolen or Phillips.  Votto bats 3rd.

Even so, you are correct: having Votto bat one or two places ahead of you can help.  Though, if Bruce keeps this up, it will be the other way around.) 

Since: Jun 3, 2011
Posted on: June 3, 2011 12:34 pm

Players of the Month: Bruce, Verlander/Sanchez

Doesn't hurt batting after last years MVP!

Since: May 29, 2009
Posted on: June 3, 2011 9:10 am

Players of the Month: Bruce, Verlander/Sanchez

Im not one to question the writers because after all it is their job to provide their opinion.  However Evan Brunell has caught my attention on this one.  Does he actually think the Joyce deserves POM over Bruce, or was he just trying to be different?  I mean not only was Bruce on another planet offensively in May, but he is consistantly one of the better defensive right fielders in the game.

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