The record: 18-12 (32-24 overall, 1st Place AL Central)
After some high highs and some low lows, the Twins wrapped up their month of May last week. It was a solid month that actually saw them improve their overall record, despite some stumbles towards the end. Injuries, COVID, and other sicknesses slowed them down, but the Twins still ended the month with a 5 game lead over the second place Chicago White Sox. It’s easy to get down on the team after a bad stretch, but may was an absolute win.
May MVP: Luis Arraez
With Byron Buxton slumping, the Twins needed someone to fill the offensive void, and Luis Arraez did just that. For the month, he slashed .377/.480/.412 in 23 games, with 16 walks and only 11 strikeouts. That’s not just an incredible month, it’s one of the best months in Twins history. He consistently got on base in front of the middle of the lineup and brought a spark to the club all month long.
Honorable Mention: Sonny Gray, Trevor Larnach, Kyle Garlick, Gary Sánchez (both for his hitting, and for sowing discord among the Yankees ahead of our series this week)
May LVP: Dylan Bundy
Bundy got hammered in May after a promising start to the season. The Twins starter had a 6.87 ERA for the month, giving up 14 runs and 27 hits in 18.1 innings. When facing Bundy, hitters had a .338/.379/.538 line against him, essentially turning average hitters into Mike Trout. With injuries plaguing the starting staff and the Twins short on alternative options, Bundy should get a few more trips through the rotation to earn his spot back. But if it keeps looking like this, he may not have a spot on the Twins for much longer.
Honorable Mention: Yennier Cano, Tyler Duffey, Byron Buxton???
Most Improved: Caleb Thielbar
For the first month of the season, Caleb Thielbar looked absolutely washed. He couldn’t get an out, had a sky high walk rate, and was getting hit all over the field. Then the calendar flipped to May and things turned around.
Thielbar regained his 2021 form, throwing 13 innings with a 2.08 ERA, 15 strikeouts, and 5 walks. Having Thielbar playing up to his standards will be critical for the Twins down the stretch. The bullpen is struggling and they need every reliable reliever they can get.
Honorable Mention: Trevor Larnach, Gilberto Celestino, Carlos Correa
Rookie of the Month: Jhoan Duran
In my first edition of of this article last month, I mused that the Rookie of the Month was going to be the honorary Joe Ryan award. Well, here we are.
Not to say that Ryan did anything wrong in May, quite the opposite. When available he pitched like the ace the Twins need. Duran has just been that good. In 11.1 innings, Duran gave up just 2 runs on 2 solo shots, while striking out 14 batters. The results are excellent, and watching him is even more fun. The Twins have never had a player like him who can pump out 100-103 MPH fastballs with remarkable consistency. He’s fun to watch, reliable, and could have a legitimate argument to be in the All Star game when all is said and done.
Honorable Mention: Royce Lewis, Joe Ryan
Cy Young: Sonny Gray
Sonny Gray has been everything the Twins could have hoped for when they made the trade. In may, he threw 27.1 innings with a 1.65 ERA, 34 strikeouts, and just 7 walks. He has been painting corners, getting strikeouts swinging and looking, and dominating every time he takes the mound.
The Twins received a lot of criticism for their handling of the starting rotation this offseason, but right now, a starting rotation headlined by Sonny Gray and Joe Ryan looks like one that can compete in the playoffs. We just need to find the answers behind them.
Honorable Mention: Joe Ryan, Jhoan Duran, Devin Smeltzer(!!!)
Best moment: Chris Archer’s mid game interview
I know they tend to be divisive among the fans, but I love the mid game interviews with players. Taking them out of the post game scrums and scheduled media sessions seems to loosen them up a bit and get more genuine answers. Plus you can also get moments like this.
The Twins are already off to a surprisingly good start in June after the Triple A All-Stars took two games in Toronto. With series against the Yankees and Rays still to come this week, getting key players back soon will be paramount to a successful month.