National League Players of the Month: May 2024

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

Chris Sale of Atlanta Braves pitches during the sixth inning against the Boston Red Sox at Truist Park.
ATLANTA, GA - MAY 8: Chris Sale #51 of Atlanta Braves pitches during the sixth inning against the Boston Red Sox at Truist Park on May 8, 2024 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin D. Liles/Atlanta Braves/Getty Images)

A lot can change over the course of a month. In April, Colorado Rockies right-hander Cal Quantrill was one of the worst starting pitchers in baseball. He had a 5.34 ERA through six starts, and his underlying numbers (5.31 xFIP, 5.46 SIERA) weren’t going to let him shift any of the blame onto Coors Field.

One month later, Quantrill is Just Baseball’s Silver Medal Pitcher of the Month in the National League.

Meanwhile, Philadelphia Phillies third baseman Alec Bohm, the NL Bronze Medal Hitter of the Month in April, went on to slash .243/.279/.369 with a .648 OPS in May. Like I said, a lot can change in a month of baseball.

However, that certainly doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t celebrate the best players from the past 31 days of MLB action. Thus, without further hesitation, here are the Just Baseball editorial staff’s picks for the NL players and pitchers of the month in May.

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NL Hitters of the Month

Gold Medal Hitter of the Month: Bryce Harper, PHI

May stats: 113 PA, 7 HR, 19 R, 24 RBI, .313/.407/.583, 2 SB, 1.4 fWAR

As the Philadelphia Phillies surged to the best record in baseball (as of May 31), no one was more important to their success than Bryce Harper.

After getting off to a slow start in April (by his own MVP standards), Harper caught fire in May. He led the National League in RBI, OPS, and FanGraphs WAR during the month, while finishing in a three-way tie with Shohei Ohtani and Marcell Ozuna for the league lead in home runs.

On top of that, Harper has continued to play surprisingly excellent defense at first base. Two months into the season, he ranks second among all first basemen in Outs Above Average, trailing only Gold Glove winner Christian Walker.

Silver Medal Hitter of the Month: Shohei Ohtani, LAD

May stats: 104 PA, 7 HR, 16 R, 19 RBI, .312/.385/.591, 8 SB, 1.2 fWAR

Shohei Ohtani just missed our Player of the Month podium in April, and we’d be fools to overlook him two months in a row.

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The Los Angeles Dodgers superstar led the NL in slugging percentage (.591), wRC+ (179), and Win Probability Added (1.71) in May. He also went 8-for-8 on the bases, and although he only contributes on one side of the ball, he finished second to Harper in fWAR.

On the season, Ohtani leads the NL in OPS, wOBA, xwOBA, and wRC+. It looks like he’s going to give teammate Mookie Betts a run for his money in the NL MVP race.

Bronze Medal Hitter of the Month: Jurickson Profar, SDP

May stats: 112 PA, 4 HR, 18 R, 18 RBI, .344/.438/.490, 2 SB, 1.2 fWAR

It has become impossible to ignore just how well Jurickson Profar is performing this season. He’s been the San Diego Padres’ most valuable player for each of the first two months, and he has been one of the best hitters in the league by almost every metric.

Jurickson Profar #10 of the San Diego Padres hits a home run in the first inning against the Miami Marlins at Petco Park.
SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – MAY 28: Jurickson Profar #10 of the San Diego Padres hits a home run in the first inning against the Miami Marlins at Petco Park on May 28, 2024 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Matt Thomas/San Diego Padres/Getty Images)

In May, Profar led the NL in on-base percentage and finished second behind his new teammate (and two-time batting champion) Luis Arraez in batting average. He also ranked among the top 10 NL batters in hits, walks, runs, RBI, OPS, and wRC+.

It still seems hard to believe that Profar will thrive like this all season long, but with another fantastic showing in May, he definitely silenced the chorus of “Can he keep this up?” for another month.

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Just Missed the Podium: LaMonte Wade Jr., SFG

May stats: 86 PA, 1 HR, 11 R, 9 RBI, .333/.488/.409, 0 SB, 1.0 fWAR

Lamonte Wade Jr. only took 86 trips to the plate in May, but he drew more walks than every NL batter except for Kyle Schwarber. What’s more, thanks to his remarkable plate discipline, he finished eighth in the league in fWAR despite ranking 83rd in plate appearances.

The San Francisco Giants first baseman has always drawn his walks, but he reached a whole new level over the past month. The big question now is if manager Bob Melvin is going to start giving him more opportunities against left-handed pitching or if he will remain the strong side of a platoon.

NL Pitchers of the Month

Gold Medal Pitcher of the Month: Chris Sale, ATL

May stats: 5-0 (5 GS), 0.56 ERA, 32.0 IP, 45 K, 2 BB, 1.7 fWAR

Chris Sale was the most dominant arm in the NL over the past month, and it wasn’t particularly close. He led all starting pitchers with a 0.56 ERA while averaging more than six innings per start. His 1.7 fWAR was more than half a win higher than that of the next-best pitcher.

The Atlanta Braves lost Spencer Strider, their number one starter and the NL Cy Young favorite, in April. Yet, it turns out they still have an ace — and they might still have the NL Cy Young favorite too. Could this finally be the year Sale wins the Cy? It’s certainly been a long time coming.

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Silver Medal Pitcher of the Month: Cal Quantrill, COL

May stats: 4-0 (5 GS), 1.71 ERA, 31.2 IP, 32 K, 9 BB, 0.9 fWAR

The Colorado Rockies entered the season with the worst pitching staff in baseball — and they might still have the worst pitching staff in baseball. However, they haven’t been without their bright spots.

Over the past month, Cal Quantrill has surely been one of those bright spots. He gave up only six earned runs across five starts, lasting at least six innings in all five outings.

While it might be hard to believe that Quantrill can keep this up much longer, his underlying stats in May were pretty darn impressive, too. He increased his strikeout rate while cutting back on walks, ranking among the top eight NL pitchers in FIP, xFIP, and SIERA.

Bronze Medal Pitcher of the Month: Cristopher Sánchez, PHI

May stats: 2-0 (5 GS), 2.03 ERA, 31.0 IP, 27 K, 7 BB, 1.1 fWAR

Cristopher Sánchez has enjoyed a remarkable ascension over the past two seasons, to the point where he is currently pitching like one of the top arms in the game.

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g the third inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – JULY 11: Christopher Sanchez #61 of the Philadelphia Phillies looks on during the third inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on July 11, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Across five starts in May, Sánchez finished eighth in the NL in ERA and second to Chris Sale in FIP and fWAR. He also ranked second in the league in groundball rate, and along with Sale, he was one of only two pitchers to cross the 30-inning threshold without allowing a home run.

Just Missed the Podium: Ben Brown, CHC

May stats: 1-0 (3 GS, 6 G), 1.16 ERA, 23.1 IP, 33 K, 11 BB, 0.9 fWAR

Ben Brown bounced between the rotation and the bullpen for the Chicago Cubs in May, but no matter when or where he was pitching, he got the job done.

The highlight of his month came at the very end, when he threw seven hitless frames against the Milwaukee Brewers, striking out 10. His pitch count prevented him from going for the no-hitter, but his performance was phenomenal nonetheless.

Brown is an arm to watch for the rest of the season, whether he sticks in the rotation or returns to dominate out of the bullpen.

Jack McMullen on the Just Baseball Show.

Stats, records, and rankings as of May 31.

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