clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Aaron Judge, Juan Soto and the rest of baseball’s best players in the month of May

MLB’s brightest stars showed up and showed out during the second month of the season, but who shown the brightest?

Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees gestures after hitting one-run home run during the seventh inning against the Seattle Mariners at T-Mobile Park on May 30, 2023 in Seattle, Washington. Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

Somehow, we’re already through two full months of the 2023 MLB season, one that’s been full of memorable rookie debuts, historically hot starts and ridiculous individual performances. Before you know it, we’re going to be picking an actual All-Star team — but until then, here’s our All-Star team for the month of May, featuring hot-shot rookies and breakout stars among some of the very biggest names in the sport.

MLB’s best players in May


AL: Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals (.302/.337/.635, 9 HR, 19 RBI, 24 G)
NL: Francisco Alvarez, New York Mets (.292/.363/.667, 7 HR, 16 RBI, 22 G)

For all the things that have gone sideways so far for the Mets, Alvarez’s torrid May is a huge win. This is exactly the guy that had everyone ranking him at or near the top of their prospect lists over the winter:

The batting average will probably come down a bit, but the power is very, very real, and a 18.8% K rate points to how much his approach at the plate has improved. (We’re focusing on Alvarez here because, really, what else is there to say about Perez? He’s been among the best catchers in the game for years now, despite getting beat up behind the plate. You keep doing you, Salvy.)

First base

AL: Yandy Diaz, Tampa Bay Rays (.320/.421/.613, 5 HR, 11 BB, 13 K, 20 G)
NL: Freddie Freeman, Los Angeles Dodgers (.396/.457/.730, 6 HR, 17 2B, 26 RBI, 27 G)

Diaz has been in and out of the lineup due to injury and personal issues, but that hasn’t slowed down his breakout season. He’s upped his fly ball rate while maintaining his elite plate skills, and the result is one of the best hitters in the game.

It hasn’t quite gotten the buzz it deserves, but Freeman has had one of the hottest months of any player in recent memory: Seriously, 23 extra-base hits and 26 RBI in 27 games! With all due respect to Pete Alonso and his 10-homer barrage, it’s about time we lavish praise on one of the game’s most underrated players — even after he bagged an MVP award.

Second base

AL: Marcus Semien, Texas Rangers (.324/.384/.514, 3 HR, 2 SB, 23 R, 21 RBI, 26 G)
NL: Nolan Gorman, St. Louis Cardinals (.277/.365/.590, 7 HR, 2 SB, 19 RBI, 25 G)

Really, you could’ve just put the entire Rangers lineup on this list, but Semien’s been at the tip of the spear all month long — one of the only players to crack both 20 runs and 20 RBI. In a month that saw a lot of AL upstarts at the keystone, from Detroit’s Zack McKinstry to Kansas City’s Michael Massey, Semien’s metronomic production feels a bit sturdier. He hits for average, he hits for power, he runs, he plays a great second base; what more could you ask?

With St. Louis’ outfield in shambles, Gorman has been asked to play the field much more this month, and he’s held his own will continuing to crush the ball at the plate. The one-time top prospect has a Statcast page bathed in red right now, and he’s been among the biggest reasons for the Cards’ offensive turnaround after a dismal start.


AL: Bo Bichette, Toronto Blue Jays (.345/.382/.543, 5 HR, 2 SB, 20 RBI, 27 G)
NL: Matt McLain, Cincinnati Reds (.357/.429/.554, 2 HR, 1 SB, 8 RBI, 13 R, 13 G)

It’s weird that one of the biggest young stars in baseball for years now is putting together a career season ... and not too many people outside of Canada are talking about it. Bichette’s barreling everything right now, and while you’d expect more speed from such a great athlete, he’s got one of the best pure hit tools (and heads of hair) in the game.

If you’re wondering how McLain gets the nod here despite only playing 13 games this month: 1) the top prospect has been that good in his first taste of the Majors, doing a little bit of everything for the suddenly surging Reds and 2) it was a weird month for NL shortstops, with Xander Bogaerts, Trea Turner and Francisco Lindor all struggling while Thairo Estrada landed on the IL.

Third base

AL: Josh Jung, Texas Rangers (.311/.351/.553, 6 HR, 16 RBI, 21 R, 25 G)
NL: Nolan Arenado, St. Louis Cardinals (.290/.342/.560, 7 HR, 22 RBI, 26 G)

Again, throw a dart at Texas’ lineup and you’ll land on eye-popping counting stats. Jung has rebounded from a cold spell to resume mashing dingers, narrowly edging out Tampa’s Isaac Paredes due to superior power numbers.

Speaking of rebounding from a cold spell: Remember when everyone was worried about Arenado in April? Yeah, us neither — one month later and he’s back playing like an MVP, doing it all at the plate and in the field.


AL: Aaron Judge, New York Yankees (.356/.484/.918, 12 HR, 25 RBI, 20 G); Luis Robert Jr., Chicago White Sox (.316/.381/.663, 8 HR, 17 RBI, 22 R, 26 G); Riley Greene, Detroit Tigers (.365/.435/.573, 3 HR, 4 SB, 11 RBI, 25 G)
NL: Juan Soto, San Diego Padres (.345/.495/.655, 5 HR, 5 SB, 15 RBI, 25 BB, 25 G); Christopher Morel, Chicago Cubs (.286/.324/.714, 9 HR, 15 RBI, 17 R, 18 G); Lane Thomas, Washington Nationals (.316/.366/.605, 8 HR, 2 SB, 16 RBI, 22 R, 28 G)

Some brutal timing here, as Greene makes the list on the very same day he lands on the IL with a stress fracture in his left leg. Still, he deserves some shine for making good on all the hype that surrounded the former top-five pick as a prospect — he looked every bit like the five-tool dynamo he was billed as coming through the Minors. Robert turned his miserable April — one that saw him getting booed by his own fans — into a torrid May, finally tapping into some of that prodigious raw power. As for Judge, really, what can you say about a guy who put up a historically awesome season last year ... and is now on pace to match or exceed it:

Designated hitter

AL: Yordan Alvarez, Houston Astros (.294/.400/.630, 8 HR, 21 RBI, 21 R, 26 G)
NL: Jorge Soler, Miami Marlins (.276/.350/.638, 12 HR, 25 RBI, 20 R, 26 G)

Alvarez continues to chug along as maybe the single most reliable hitter on planet Earth. He hits righties, he hits lefties, he hits for average, he hits for power, he takes walks, he hits on the road, he almost never has a bad month — and May was certainly no exception.

Soler, meanwhile, is maybe the single most confounding hitter on planet Earth. He hit 45 bombs for the Royals a few years ago, then promptly disappeared, then helped carry the Atlanta Braves to a World Series title in 2021, then promptly disappeared again. Just when it seemed like we’d seen the last of him, he’s now regained his power stroke in Miami in a big, big way — and when he’s on, it’s among the greatest shows in the sport.

Starting pitcher

AL: Framber Valdez, Houston Astros (3-1, 2.18 ERA, 0.909 WHIP, 10.9 K/9)
NL: Mitch Keller, Pittsburgh Pirates (3-1, 2.45 ERA, 0.818 WHIP, 12.3 K/9)

We considered going with Jon Gray as the sentimental choice, but the Rangers righty has gotten just a little bit lucky amid his recent hot streak. Valdez feels like a bit of a throwback, a sinkerballing workhorse that you can practically put in pen for six or seven innings every time out, but he’s upped his strikeouts this year in a big way.

We need to take a moment to appreciate Keller, the one-time top prospect who appeared on the verge of washing out of the league entirely before reinventing himself this season. The righty’s kitchen sink approach — he throws six different offerings — has worked like gangbusters, with a mid-90s heater that no one can seem to catch up to.

Relief pitcher

AL: Yennier Cano, Baltimore Orioles (1-0, 1.50 ERA, 2 SV, 6 HLD, 0.944 WHIP, 9.0 K/9)
NL: Alexis Diaz, Cincinnati Reds (0.73 ERA, 9 SV, 1.054 WHIP, 16.1 K/9)

As if the O’s needed another bullpen stud with Felix Bautista already back there, they’ve stumble upon one in Cano, whose revamped changeup has made him practically unhittable this year.

Cano has finally allowed a run, but he still boasts baseball’s highest ground ball rate and its lowest walk rate — a pretty good combination.

We talked about how hot the Reds have been recently, and Diaz has been right at the center of it, becoming virtually automatic when Cincy hands him a lead. His most recent high-wire act: Bailing out the rest of his team’s bullpen after they’d allowed eight runs over two innings against the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday night.