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The MLB season is already nearing its halfway mark, with the All-Star Game and trade deadline right around the corner. With about 80 games in the books, the 2023 season so far has been full of surprises, both good and bad.
To that end, here are five stats that tell the story of MLB in June. (All stats current as of June 28.)
Miami Marlins second baseman and baseball wizard Luis Arráez is in pursuit of the elusive .400 average season, which hasn’t been done since Ted Williams in 1941. His batting average isn’t just a fun early season stat anymore. Granted, to accomplish the feat, he’ll have to continue his torrid batting pace for another 80-plus games, which will be difficult, but the excitement here is real. It has been quite a while since someone has gotten this close to Williams’ record. Even though Arráez still has a ways to go, the possibility of a hitter in 2023 matching that nearly unobtainable number is what baseball dreams are made of.
Felix Bautista: 0.93 ERA, 7 saves
The Baltimore Orioles tweeted something very interesting on Sunday about Bautista, their lights-out closer.
Did Seattle Mariners fans take offense to this, given that there is only one King Felix, and that’s Felix Hernandez? Absolutely. But Baltimore’s social media team can be forgiven for their excitement because Bautista is doing some brilliant things on the mound. Over nine games and 9 2/3 innings in June, Bautista pitched to a 0.93 ERA with seven saves. He allowed just four hits and one earned run while striking out 20 batters. As long as the Orioles don’t go too far with the King Felix thing, they and their fans deserve to be massively excited about Bautista.
New York Yankees: .196 average, .257 OBP, 67 runs scored
The Yankees’ offense has been miserable in the month of June. Other possible adjectives include rotted, asleep, futile and depressing. Since June 2, the Yankees have been at or near the bottom in a number of hitting stats. Their .196 average, .257 on-base percentage and 67 runs scored in the month all rank 30th in MLB. That’s a massive change from May, when the Yankees were solidly middle of the pack. What caused the massive change? Well, back in early June, Aaron Judge, one of MLB’s premiere and most feared sluggers, went on the injured list due to a toe injury. Until he’s back, the Yankees will have to make the offense work without him, and that has already proven to be extraordinarily difficult.
Shohei Ohtani: .383/.473/.915, 13 HR, 2 triples, 7 doubles
The language of human beings is running out of ways to accurately describe Ohtani, MLB’s only two-way player. He has a 3.02 ERA on the season as a pitcher, which is outstanding, but his incredible performance at the plate in June made it tough to focus on anything else. Ohtani smacked 13 home runs in June — with a few days to go — plus seven doubles and two triples. While Arráez is leading the sport in average, he has recorded just seven extra-base hits in June, less than a third of Ohtani’s 22. Ohtani is one of the primary reasons the Angels have remained over .500 and competitive. They’re just five games out of first in the AL West and currently in line for the third AL wild card. Don’t look now, but here come the Angels.
New York Mets: 7-16 record
It’s time to talk about the Mets. We can go through some stats for the month, such as a .225 team average (23rd in MLB), a 4.49 team ERA (23rd in MLB) and a truly tragic 7-16 record that has them 16.5 games behind the first-place Atlanta Braves and 8.5 games out of the third NL wild card. Still, the best way to illustrate where the Mets are right now is to refer to the bottom of the eighth inning of their 7-6 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies on June 25. A combination of bad managing, bad bullpen usage, bad pitching and bad defense led to one of the Mets-iest implosions you’ll ever see, as the Phillies scored four runs on one hit, one walk, two hit batters and an error. Manager Buck Showalter left two of his best relievers (including his closer) in the bullpen while the Mets’ 6-3 lead disintegrated into a disastrous loss.
That loss is like an onion. There are so many layers as to why it was so bad, so alarming, so undeniably Mets, and each layer is more horrifying than the next. And here’s the most horrifying thing of all: While the players can (and probably will) improve over the rest of the season, Showalter, who has managed five teams since 1992, almost certainly won’t. If he hasn’t learned the obvious lessons from the 2016 AL wild-card debacle, in which he left ace closer Zack Britton in the bullpen while the Orioles’ lead disappeared in front of his eyes, he probably never never will.