With our calendars having flipped to June, this is the perfect time to recap some of the best and worst performances from the month of May. There should be some nuggets in this article that shape your lineup and streaming decisions as we start June action.
Top offenses (May OPS in brackets)
Blue Jays (.813), Astros (.786), Red Sox (.771): These are your lineups to avoid at the moment. Some observers will say that Blue Jays will flounder when they shift from Dunedin to Buffalo, but I don’t buy it. Take a look at the Toronto lineup and you’ll see what I mean. Marcus Semien is on fire, Bo Bichette and Vladimir Gurrero Jr. are the real deal, and players such as Teoscar Hernandez and Randal Grichuk are dangerous. Meanwhile, the Red Sox have been a lineup to avoid all season. The Astros have quietly become one of the toughest matchups for opposing starters, as they are baseball’s best at limiting strikeouts and are now scoring plenty of runs.
Worst Offense (May OPS in brackets)
Mariners (.624), Pirates (.631), Brewers (.640): The Mariners recorded the worst May OPS, as the arrival of prospect Jarred Kelenic failed to give them a spark. Over in the National League, the Pirates should be an easy target all season, while the Brewers will struggle to score until big names such as Christian Yelich and Keston Hiura get on track. The one problem with streaming too heavily against the Brewers is that their effective starting pitchers limit the win potential for opposing hurlers. The Marlins and Diamondbacks just missed this list but are all solid teams to target with opposing starters. Arizona’s emergence as a streaming target is a stark contrast to their April status, when they were among baseball’s most productive lineups. Also, the Yankees ranked 25th in May OPS (.668). New York will eventually get on track, but it isn't a lineup to avoid for now.
Top Pitching Staffs (ERA in brackets)
Cubs (2.52), Padres (2.69), Rays (2.70), White Sox (2.89): These four clubs separated from the pack, as the next-closest team had an ERA roughly half a run higher. And not surprisingly, all of these teams won at least 19 games in May. Fantasy managers can steer away from the Padres, Rays and White Sox with marginal hitters, especially in daily transaction leagues. Also, these teams are poor streaming options for opposing starters, as they have effective offenses and their strong pitchers limit the opposition’s win potential. I’m not sold of the Cubs to the same degree as the other teams. They lack star power and likely pitched over their heads to some degree in May.
Worst pitching staffs (ERA in brackets)
Orioles (5.89), D-backs (5.46), Twins (4.99), Pirates (4.98): Arizona and Baltimore are coming off miserable months where the pitching fell apart and each team won just five games. They are terrific targets for streaming hitters right now, as they are a mess in the rotation and bullpen. Also, trying to find saves on those two clubs may be a fool’s errand. Streaming your starters against Baltimore and Arizona is also a good idea, as the win potential is very high. Of the two teams, I give the D-backs better odds of improving in June.
Home run leaders (total in brackets)
Adolis Garcia (11), Max Muncy (10), Fernando Tatis Jr. (9), Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (9): All of these players are studs, and I’m not dealing any of them unless the return package is excellent. But I want to mention one of the seven players with eight homers in May — Eugenio Suarez. The Reds slugger is driving fantasy managers crazy with his .160 average, but his power skills are very much still intact. I’m not expecting Suarez to hit for a high average, but he should remain one of the best power hitters in baseball and bat .220 going forward.
Stolen base leaders (totals in brackets)
Fernando Tatis Jr. (8), Niko Goodrum (7), Whit Merrifield (7), Trea Turner (7): Tatis is a remarkable story, coming back from a potentially season-altering April shoulder injury to reclaim his status as a fantasy stud. But the important name here is that of Goodrum. The utility man has been getting regular action at shortstop, and has enough speed to steal 25-30 bases over a full season with heavy usage. That being said, Goodrum has struck out at an absurd 37.3 percent rate this season, which is actually slightly better than his rate in 2020. His frequent whiffs preclude the 29-year-old from producing an acceptable batting average, but he remains valuable for roto managers who need swipes.
Saves leaders (totals in brackets)
Alex Reyes (9), Craig Kimbrel (8), Liam Hendriks (8), Mark Melancon (8): Reyes is the first name on this list and the reliever who I am the most concerned about. The right-hander is playing with fire of late, walking 15 batters across 15.2 innings in May. Reyes used his outstanding strikeout skills (25 May whiffs) to limit the damage, but very few closers have sustained success while putting this many runners on base. Those who wish to speculate on saves and Reyes managers who want to cover themselves should grab Giovanny Gallegos, who leads the team in holds and is having a terrific season.