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Dodgers in May: Top of the lineup thrives

A look back at the season’s second month

MLB: Atlanta Braves at Los Angeles Dodgers Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Dodgers got incredible contributions from the top three hitters in their lineup, giving them one of the most prolific offensive months in the Los Angeles portion of their franchise history. Let’s look back at the last month.

May results

20-9 record
174 runs scored (6.00 per game, 1st in MLB)
102 runs allowed (3.52 per game, 4th in MLB)
.721 pythagorean win percentage (21-8)

Year to date

33-16 record
270 runs scored (5.51 per game, 1st in MLB)
154 runs allowed (3.14 per game, 1st in MLB)
.736 pythagorean win percentage (36-13)

The Dodgers end May with a three-game lead over the Padres in the National League West, after starting the month a half-game behind San Francisco.

Incredible trio

The top three batters in the Dodgers lineup drove the bus during May. Mookie Betts was the first Dodger to score 30 runs in a calendar month in 68 years, and he’s the first Dodger ever with double digits in both home runs and doubles in the same month. Betts had a 1.156 OPS and 218 wRC+. It was an exceptional month, but he wasn’t alone.

Freddie Freeman hit just one home run during the month, on May 26, which ruined his bid at potentially the best month ever from a Dodger with zero home runs. In addition to that lone homer, Freeman doubled 15 times, one shy of the franchise record for a single month, and even tripled once, part of an .891 OPS and 150 wRC+.

Betts drove in 27 runs, and Freeman drove in 20, but by reaching base incredibly often — .411 on-base percentage for Betts, .405 for Freeman — they still left runners for Trea Turner, who drove in 24 runs of his own. Turner hit .313/.375/.504 with a 150 wRC+ in May, and ended the month on a 23-game hit streak.

Runs galore

The Dodgers’ 174 runs scored during May is the second-most in any calendar months since moving to Los Angeles, trailing only the 178 runs scored in May 1970. By average, this May’s Dodgers are just the ninth LA team to score at least six runs per game.

LA Dodgers months scoring 6 runs per game

Month G Runs Runs/game
Month G Runs Runs/game
Apr 1977 20 132 6.60
Jul 1962 26 167 6.42
May 1970 28 178 6.36
Sep 2014 25 156 6.24
Apr 2000 24 146 6.08
May 1962 28 170 6.07
Sep 2020 24 145 6.04
May 2006 28 169 6.04
May 2022 29 174 6.00
Source: Baseball Reference

As a team, the Dodgers led the National League with 71 doubles, trailing only Boston among major league teams. Those 71 doubles matched a franchise record, along with the July 1930 Brooklyn squad.

May the fourth be with you

In addition to Betts, Freeman, and Trea Turner at the top, the Dodgers had yet another Turner drive home 20 runs during the month. Justin Turner had 12 doubles and three home runs during the month.

Only one other time have four different LA Dodgers totaled 20 RBI in the same month. Max Muncy, Justin Turner, Will Smith, and Chris Taylor did so last July. Before that, you’d have to go back to the 1953 Brooklyn Dodgers to find such a month. That team had five 20-RBI men in August — Duke Snider, Roy Campanella, Carl Furillo, Gil Hodges, and Jackie Robinson.

Unheralded arms

Tony Gonsolin led the starting rotation with a 1.93 ERA in his five starts, and Tyler Anderson ended the month on a 20-inning scoreless streak. Let’s compare duos in May:

  • Gonsolin & Anderson: 60 IP, 2.55 ERA, 8 HR, 10 walks, 64 strikeouts
  • Walker Buehler & Julio Urías: 69 IP, 3.39 ERA, 10 HR, 13 walks, 55 strikeouts

Welcome aboard

With Clayton Kershaw landing on the injured list with soreness in a pelvic joint, and Andrew Heaney missing all of May as well — both are expected to start rehab assignments this weekend, by the way — the Dodgers needed to fill some innings on the back end of the rotation during the month.

Ryan Pepiot was the first to get the call, debuting in Pittsburgh on May 11. Pepiot, the Dodgers’ second-ranked pitching prospect, has incredible movement on his pitches, but the lack of command showed. In three major league starts, he walked 11 and struck out 13 in 11⅓ innings, though he only allowed four runs.

Michael Grove, who was added to the 40-man roster in November, debuted on May 15. He allowed four runs, all of them unearned, in 3⅔ frames against the Phillies.

Quakering in their boots

The Dodgers played the entire Phillies portion of their schedule, and all but one of their games against the Pirates in May, and had their problems with MLB’s two Pennsylvania teams.

Against the Phillies and Pirates, who have a combined .429 win percentage this season, the Dodgers were 4-8 in May. Against every other team, Los Angeles was a tidy 16-1.

Checking on the regulars

The Dodgers for the most part have had an incredibly regular lineup this season, with “the usual nine” as I’ve come to call them accounting for an overwhelming portion of the team’s starts. But cracks in the facade started to appear in the final week of the month, with Max Muncy landing on the injured list with left elbow inflammation, and Cody Bellinger missing a few games with an adductor injury.

That has opened up more playing time for Edwin Ríos, who started the final ten games of the month. During May, Ríos hit .262/.318/.574, a 147 wRC+, with six home runs and 15 RBI.

During April, the usual nine accounted for 91.7 percent of Dodgers starts. In May, those nine accounted for 85.8 percent of starts.

The month ahead

June’s schedule does get more difficult, with the Mets and Giants on the schedule. But there are also four off days mixed in, and the Dodgers will only play 10 games during June against teams currently with a winning record.