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Handing out awards for the very best of May baseball

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As we fall headfirst into June, the baseball season is now a full third of the way done. (Oh my stars and garters, where has the time gone? My looks have withered, my forehead now lined with age -- oooh, did Albert Pujols just hit a double?) But before we leave May to the sands of time, it's time to look back at the greatest and weirdest moments from the month that was. 

Here are your May awards: 

Mr. May: Troy Tulowitzki

Coming into the year, most people probably would have pegged Troy Tulowitzki as the best shortstop in the game. At the end of April, he had lived up to that title with a .364/.477/.727 line. Obviously he wasn't going to keep hitting at that kind of level, right? 

Wrong. Here's May: .341/.429/.614

Tulowitzki has been so good, so unbelievably on fire for the first two months of the season, that Giants announcer Mike Krukow said that he "must be getting signs." To which Tulowitzki responded the way any sane man would: by coming to the plate to the beat of '90s Swedish pop superstars Ace of Base's "The Sign."

As Mike Bertha so astutely pointed out, Tulowitzki is so hot he could be dating Justin Verlander: 

Tulowitzki graph

Most surprising player: Dallas Keuchel

Dallas Keuchel had struggled in his first two big league seasons, posting a 5.20 ERA in 239 innings. 

All of that's changed this year as Keuchel has used his fastball and slider to devastating effect, watching his ERA and walks dip while his strikeouts rise. According to Fangraphs, Keuchel's fastball is the fourth most valuable pitch this season while his slider is fifteenth.

They've lead to plenty of this: 

Slider

Mmmm.

In May, Keuchel put it all together, pitching 46.1 innings with a 2.14 ERA while limiting batters to a .198/.234/.265 line and pitching two complete games. 

Mr. Home Run: Edwin Encarnacion

Edwin Encarnacion is that rare breed of power hitter who can hit 30-plua home runs and strike out fewer than 100 times a year. Over the last two seasons, there have been two players who have done that: two-time reigning AL MVP Miguel Cabrera and Encarnacion. Each did it in both 2012 and '13. 

This past month, though, Encarnacion stepped up his game, cranking out 16 friggin' home runs to tie Mickey Mantle's AL record for the month. That parrot must be getting pretty tired: 

It may just be time to admit that Encarnacion is not human. That he belongs to a different class of individual, sent here to hit home runs and then one day, perhaps, conquer humanity. 

Mr. Home Run, Jr: George Springer

George Springer had a rough start to his Major League career. After making his debut on April 16th, Springer was hitting .180/.254/.213 with five errors to his name at the start of May. It looked like the Astros top prospect may have needed a little more seasoning. 

But over the next few weeks, Springer warmed up, watching his batting average and home runs rise. 

From May 21 - 29, there was no one hotter. During that span, Springer hit .407/.515/1.259 with 7 home runs and 15 RBI, including a stretch of four games in a row with a dinger. 

Springer dinger

The last rookie to hit that many home runs in so few games? That would be Rudy York in 1937

Go ahead and dance, George. You earned it. 

Springer dance

Longest home run: Paul Goldschmidt 

Following up on the 2013 campaign that saw Goldschmidt earn his first All-Star Game appearance and Silver Slugger award, America's First Baseman is having another stellar year, leading the Majors in hits and doubles. 

But Goldschmidt's skills are best on display when he's absolutely clobbering baseballs: 

Goldschmidt

According to Home Run Tracker, this blast off of Padres southpaw Troy Patton went an absurd 470 feet.

I guess Paul Goldschmidt knows how to get people excited:

McCain

Slowest pitch by a pitcher: Yu Darvish

Darvish is known for his hard fastball and approximately 8,000 different pitch types. But on May 22nd, Darvish decided to go against type and toss a 54.7 mph eephus to Torii Hunter:

Darvish eephus

With a 40 mph drop from his fastball, Darvish is lucky that he didn't wind up giving Hunter whiplash. Even though that would make for a really great episode of Judge Joe Brown.

Torii Hunter eephus reaction

Oh, and for those keeping score, Darvish's pitch is officially 0.3 mph slower than Dean Anna's knuckleball making that the slowest pitch this year. 

Fastest pitch by a position player:  Mitch Moreland and Drew Butera (tie)

Position players have taken the mound 12 times this year and the record of 14, set last year, is already in sight. With all those non-pitchers toeing the rubber, it's not surprising that we're seeing some guys with some real talent.

Enter: Mitch Moreland and Drew Butera.

When Moreland first joined the Rangers minor league system, the team had him split time as a pitcher and a catcher, getting him some bullpen work a few times per week. But thanks to Moreland's bat, that experiment soon ended and Moreland became a full-time hitter. 

On May 6th, Moreland got to throw a few heaters again. There was apparently no rust as Moreland retired the Rockies in order, needing only 15 pitches with 10 of them coming for strikes. That included this 94 mph fastball to end the inning.

Moreland pitch

But Moreland wasn't the only position player to light up the radar gun. Eight days later, Drew Butera came on for the Dodgers, again getting a three-up, three-down inning, ending it with this 94 mph fastball to strike out Marcell Ozuna. 

Butera pitch

While Moreland has yet to get another relief appearance, Butera did pitch 2/3 of an inning three days later, though he surrendered two runs in that one. Sadly, the Rangers and Dodgers don't face each other this season, so we'll have to keep dreaming of the Moreland vs. Butera head-to-head matchup for position player pitching supremacy. 

Master of Disguise: Tim Lincecum

Tim Lincecum already has two Cy Young awards and two World Series rings on his mantle, but he can now add a new award to his CV: Master of Disguise

On May 3rd, Lincecum packed on a few pounds and put on some fake glasses to play manager, perhaps giving us a sense of what he will look like when his playing career is done:

Lincecum disguise

Of course, Lincecum also shaved off his blossoming mustache, but I'll assume that was because of some CIA regulation for his next undercover mission. 

Most Prolific Basestealer: Dee Gordon

Since 1901, there have been only eight 100-stolen base seasons, with just four different players accomplishing the feat. (Vince Coleman and Rickey Henderson each did it three times, and Lou Brock and Maury Wills passed the mark once apiece). The last time this was pulled off was 1987. 

While everyone was looking to Reds rookie Billy Hamilton to become the next great 100-swipe champ, Dee Gordon is the one with a league-leading 34 steals on June 1st. In the month of May alone, Gordon stole 21 bases and got caught only twice. 

Gordon steal

With Gordon currently on pace for 97 steals, he'll need to remain healthy, productive (his .338 OBP is a career high) and toss in a few more multi-stolen base games to do it. 

As for the AL Leader, that would be no one but Jose Altuve with 20. Or, to put that in correct terms, 332.287 Altuves. 

Altuve steal

Sneakiest Basestealer: Rajai Davis

While Gordon has been a brazen basestealer, swiping bags with nary a care in the world, Rajai Davis added a little trickery to this theft. 

With the A's not paying any attention, Davis took off on the lob back to the mound with a sly grin on his face. 

Rajai Davis steal

While Davis was all smiles, Brad Ausmus wasn't as pleased, saying his "heart stopped."

Worst First Pitch: 50 Cent

50 Cent has done many things well. Like selling records. Or making video games. Or even acting.

First pitches, though? Not so much

50 Cent first pitch

Don't just take our word for it. The Washington Post ran the numbers and they agree: 50 Cent's was the worst of all-time.

It's okay though, not only could I probably not make a throw to home from the mound with 30,000 people watching, but I can't rap either. 

Best Catch:  Eileen Depasa

While there were plenty of great catches in the month of May, like Giancarlo Stanton getting full extension and Aaron Hicks' homer-robbing grab, as far as I know, none of those saved a baby's life. 

On Memorial Day, Eileen Depasa did just that when she snagged Tyler Flowers' bat out of the air. 

Catch

Hopefully she has now added "Professional Baby Savior and Baseball Bat Owner" to her business cards. 

Your Yasiel Puig Moment: 

Whether he's flipping bats like a "maestro," catching balls he has no business catching or simply posing in front of his TV with a Transformer, Yasiel Puig is the very best. He's the answer to the age old question, "If Optimus Prime played baseball, what would it be like?"

But nothing that Yasiel Puig actually did on the field in the month of May could top the triumvirate of bobbling Dodgers heads on Yasiel Puig bobblehead day:

Yasiel Puig bobblehead

Yasiel Puig bobblehead 2

Your Bartolo Colon Moment: 

And because there is no way to finish a monthly recap post without him, here is your recommended Bartolo Colon serving for May. 

Bartolo running

Just like Bartolo, let's keep on trucking. For June is here and glorious new baseball moments await. 


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