National League Players of the Month: June 2024

The Just Baseball staff awards gold, silver, and bronze medals to the best players from around the NL over the third month of the season.

Bryce Harper of the Philadelphia Phillies in action against the Pittsburgh Pirates during a game at Citizens Bank Park.
PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - APRIL 12: Bryce Harper #3 of the Philadelphia Phillies in action against the Pittsburgh Pirates during a game at Citizens Bank Park on April 12, 2024 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

Three months into the 2024 MLB season, major storylines are starting to solidify. Bryce Harper and Shohei Ohtani, the favorites in the NL MVP race, are our NL Gold and Silver Medal Hitters of the Month for the second time in a row.

On the other side of the ball, southpaw Cristopher Sánchez has risen from the Bronze Medal in May to claim the top spot on this month’s podium. It should come as little surprise, then, that he is also emerging as a legitimate Cy Young candidate in the National League.

That means the Philadelphia Phillies have the Gold Medal Hitter and the Gold Medal Pitcher of the Month in June. And if you’ve been following along, that shouldn’t surprise you either.

The Phillies (55-29) have the best record in baseball over the first three months of the season, and they’re the only team to have had at least one of our top three hitters and top three pitchers in April, May, and June.

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Meanwhile, on the opposite side of Pennsylvania, rookie right-hander Paul Skenes has made our Player of the Month podium for the first time – but certainly not the last. In fact, he might have made it sooner if the Pirates had called him up earlier in the year. Skenes has dominated over his first nine starts, proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that he was and is ready to face big league opposition.

For more on Harper, Ohtani, Sánchez, Skenes, and the rest of the National League’s top performers in June, here are Just Baseball’s picks for the NL hitters and pitchers of the month.

All stats and rankings reflect games through June 30, 2024.

NL Hitters of the Month

Gold Medal Hitter of the Month: Bryce Harper, PHI

June stats: 104 PA, 7 HR, 20 R, 16 RBI, .374/.452/.714, 221 wRC+, 1 SB, 1.9 fWAR

The Philadelphia Phillies‘ de facto captain led the Senior Circuit in FanGraphs WAR for the second straight month. Indeed, Harper was even more valuable in June than he was in May, despite missing the final three days of the month with a hamstring strain.

In addition to leading the league in fWAR, Harper paced qualified NL batters in slugging percentage, wOBA, and wRC+ in June. He also continues to be a surprisingly capable defensive first baseman (5 OAA, .997 Fld% on the season), and he ranks in the 95th percentile among all players in baserunning value, according to Baseball Savant.

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On June 27, Harper was named the starting first baseman for the NL All-Star team as the league’s leading vote-getter after phase one of fan balloting. It is his eighth All-Star selection, and he joins an elite group of superstars who have been selected to start the All-Star Game at three different positions (OF, DH, 1B).

Unfortunately, Harper’s hamstring will keep him out until at least July 9, and possibly longer – putting his chances of playing in the All-Star Game in jeopardy. Due to injuries, slow starts, and global pandemics, the superstar has not actually appeared in an All-Star Game since 2018.

Harper played in six All-Star Games during his seven seasons with the Nationals, but he has yet to play in an All-Star Game during his tenure with the Phillies. Nonetheless, he remains one of the greatest players of his generation.

Silver Medal Hitter of the Month: Shohei Ohtani, LAD

June stats: 122 PA, 12 HR, 26 R, 24 RBI, .293/.413/.697, 202 wRC+, 3 SB, 1.6 fWAR

It’s hard to believe Ohtani is only our silver medalist in June, considering he just had the best month of his season – and arguably one of the best months of his career.

Ohtani scored 26 runs, drove in 24, hit 12 homers, and drew 20 walks over the past month, putting up a 202 wRC+. The only month in his career in which he outperformed all those numbers was June of last year, which was one of the greatest months by any hitter in recent memory.

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The Los Angeles Dodgers DH led NL batters in home runs and runs scored and finished tied for the league lead in RBI in June. He ranked first among qualified batters in isolated power, second in slugging percentage, third in wRC+, and fourth in fWAR.

Although Harper has outperformed Ohtani over the past two months, Ohtani remains the NL MVP favorite thanks to his superior performance in April. He will also have a chance to gain ground in July while Harper is on the IL.

If he wins his third MVP Award this November, Ohtani will become just the second player to win the honor in both leagues.

Bronze Medal Hitter of the Month: CJ Abrams, WSN

June stats: 97 PA, 4 HR, 18 R, 16 RBI, .373/.464/.663, 215 wRC+, 6 SB, 1.4 fWAR

The Washington Nationals shortstop was already enjoying a breakout season, and he just casually put together the best month of his young career.

Abrams led the National League with a .464 OBP in June and ranked among the top three qualified NL batters in all three triple-slash categories. His .479 wOBA and 215 wRC+ ranked second only to Harper.

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His defense at shortstop still leaves much to be desired, and his baserunning has been sloppy this season, especially compared to his 47 steals in 51 attempts in 2023. Still, you don’t need to do much else when you’re hitting as well as Abrams has this season.

The Bronze Medal has inadvertently become our way to acknowledge 2024 breakout stars. Alec Bohm took home the honor in April, while Jurickson Profar claimed the bronze in May. Abrams (23 years old), Bohm (27), and Profar (31) were all top prospects before their respective debuts, and all three are finally enjoying success commensurate with their prospect pedigree.

Just Missed the Podium: Fernando Tatis Jr., SDP

June stats: 82 PA, 5 HR, 13 R, 7 RBI, .365/.427/.635, 205 wRC+, 2 SB, 1.2 fWAR

Tatis suffered a stress reaction in his right leg last week, landing him on the IL for the remainder of the first half of the season. Thus, he played in just 20 of the San Diego Padres’ 28 games last month, and his 82 plate appearances weren’t enough for the right fielder to qualify for rate stat leaderboards in June.

Still, Tatis was just so good when he was on the field that I couldn’t let his performance go completely overlooked. His 205 wRC+ ranked third in the NL (min. 60 PA), and he finished 12th in fWAR despite taking far fewer trips to the plate than everyone ranked above him.

Tatis also led NL batters (min. 20 PA) with a .469 xwOBA in June.

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Special shoutouts go to Ketel Marte, Jackson Merrill, and Heliot Ramos, three more NL position players who just missed the podium this month.

NL Pitchers of the Month

Gold Medal Pitcher of the Month: Cristopher Sánchez, PHI

June stats: 3-0 (5 GS), 1.64 ERA, 33.0 IP, 23 K, 4 BB, 1.2 fWAR

Where on earth did Cristopher Sánchez come from? I asked that question last year when he went from an anonymous depth arm to a legitimate mid-rotation starter. Now, I’m asking all over again, since we’re halfway through the 2024 season and Sánchez is pitching like a top-of-the-rotation stud.

The left-hander was utterly dominant in June, pitching 33 innings across five starts and leading the NL in FIP. Only one qualified pitcher had a lower ERA, and only one qualified pitcher issued fewer walks per nine. Sánchez was the only qualified pitcher not to allow a home run.

Thanks to his 1.64 ERA, 2.13 FIP, and 1.2 fWAR in June, Sánchez ranks second on the season among qualified NL pitchers in ERA (2.41) and FIP (2.38) and leads the Senior Circuit with 3.0 fWAR.

His latest outing against the Marlins on June 28 was the best start of his career, and arguably the most dominant outing by any MLB pitcher in June. Sánchez twirled a shutout on just 103 pitches, striking out nine and walking none. Miami managed just three hits all game.

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Silver Medal Pitcher of the Month: Tobias Myers, MIL

June stats: 4-0 (5 GS), 1.44 ERA, 31.1 IP, 24 K, 8 BB, 0.7 fWAR

They say you learn something new every day, and today, you might be learning the name Tobias Myers.

After eight years in the minors with six different organizations, Myers finally made his MLB debut in 2024. Desperate for pitching, the Milwaukee Brewers called him up at the end of April, and after a rocky start over his first several weeks (including three optional assignments back to Triple-A), Myers hit his groove in June.

Over five outings (four of them quality starts), Myers gave up just five earned runs, tossing at least five innings in all five games. His 1.44 in June ranked first among qualified NL starters, and he was one of only two NL starters to win at least four decisions without collecting a loss.

Although the underlying stats suggest Myers won’t keep this up much longer, his 3.32 FIP and 4.01 xFIP are still respectable numbers — especially for a pitcher who only made the majors when his team ran out of other options.

Myers might not have gotten this opportunity if the Brewers hadn’t lost so many other starters to the injured list, but he’s taking his chance and running with it.

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Bronze Medal Pitcher of the Month: Paul Skenes, PIT

June stats: 2-0 (5 GS), 1.78 ERA, 30.1 IP, 40 K, 5 BB, 0.9 fWAR

The NL Rookie of the Year race was absolutely stacked at the beginning of the season. International stars Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Shota Imanaga, and Jung Hoo Lee headlined the race, in addition to several top prospects who made their teams’ Opening Day rosters, including Jackson Chourio and Jackson Merrill.

Skenes could have been a part of that conversation from the very beginning, but the Pittsburgh Pirates chose to send him down to minors to start the season. It was only a matter of time before Skenes made his debut, but with a late start and so much competition, his chances of winning Rookie of the Year seemed low.

Three months later, and wouldn’t you know it — Skenes is the favorite to win the league’s top rookie prize. He did not debut until May 11, but the 22-year-old has been phenomenal over his first nine career starts. He was especially dominant in June, with a 1.78 ERA and 2.73 FIP in five outings.

Sánchez and Myers may have edged out Skenes for the Gold and Silver Medals, but no one showed off better pure stuff in June than Pittsburgh’s rookie sensation. He posted the third-highest strikeout rate and the eighth-lowest walk rate among qualified NL pitchers, and he stranded 98.6% of runners he allowed to reach base.

Just Missed the Podium: Justin Steele, CHC

June stats: 0-1 (6 GS), 2.13 ERA, 38.0 IP, 39 K, 9 BB, 1.1 fWAR

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The Chicago Cubs have been in free fall lately, but it seems like no one told Steele. After a rough start to the season, the left-hander is pitching like a Cy Young candidate again, with a 1.80 ERA over his last seven starts.

Unfortunately for Steele, his best start of the season came at the end of May, so his June stats aren’t quite as impressive. Still, he ranked second among NL starters with 38.0 IP over the third month of the season, ranking fifth in ERA, fourth in FIP, and fourth in FanGraphs WAR.