Banana Splits: New month brings out the best for some most in need
Tigers outfielder Andy Dirks was hitting .400 through his first 45 at bats in May
Elvis Andrus has shown a better ability to get on base consistently this year
Originally not assured a starting spot, Josh Reddick is one of MLB's top run-scorers
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April is typically a month dominated by pitching, with low run totals and a seemingly endless supply of one-run games. However, as the weather begins to warm around baseball, so do the bats. While the star players are almost always going to make a splash, lesser-known commodities can also become difference-makers if given the right opportunity. May is a month for some of those very players to separate themselves from the pack, and in doing so help fantasy baseball owners make an early run toward greatness. Let's see which players are already making a push toward potential May stardom ...
Andy Dirks, OF, DET: There was hardly anything special about Dirk's start to the 2012 season. In April, he held his own by hitting .281 with one home run and a few RBIs, but there wasn't one single thing that jumped off the page -- not one in 32 at bats. May has been an altogether different story. Dirks is hitting .400 through his first 45 at bats in May. His bat has made manager Jim Leyland pay attention, providing Dirks with more playing time as a result. Fantasy owners too, should take notice. With neither Brennan Boesch nor the troubled Delmon Young seemingly able to take a step forward, Dirks looks to be the beneficiary of more playing time. As such, do not let the "backup" label guide your hand. Look at Dirks' May stats and let the numbers be your guide.
Adam Dunn, DH, CHW: It's already official; 2011 never happened, not for Adam Dunn, anyway. After hitting just .159 with 11 home runs in 122 games, every fantasy baseball enthusiast in the world was left to wonder if this was, in fact, the end for Dunn. Is Dunn done? Well, hardly. In fact, he's back to hitting baseballs with authority, and he's really stepped up his game in May. Next to Josh Hamilton and Carlos Beltran, no other players in MLB have hit more May home runs than Adam Dunn, as he has launched seven. Even more impressive (at least for Dunn), the much-criticized slugger has hit for a .275 batting average through 51 at-bats. Dunn's OPS for the month of May is 1.131, ranking him sixth in all of baseball.
Alejandro De Aza, OF, CHW: Dunn's teammate is also having a fairly splendid go of things in May. After hitting just .247 in April, De Aza has raised his batting average to a considerable degree, thanks to a .351 May mark (57 at bats). What's more, he's also stolen five bases, tops among all qualified players. De Aza, like so many other players before him, is finding that it's far easier to swipe the occasional bag when you're actually on base to begin with. De Aza's on base percentage for the month is .422 and he's looking more and more like the answer to the White Sox leadoff woes. He's still flying under the radar as he's hardly a household name, so fantasy owners need to take note, especially in Roto leagues where a few extra steals can make an immense difference in the standings.
Elvis Andrus, SS, TEX: On the subject of steals, a lot of fantasy types were expecting big stolen base totals from Elvis Andrus. While he's managed to swipe six bags, it's a far cry from where the more optimistic prognosticators had him slotted. Yet here again, if getting on base is a prelude to stolen bases, then Andrus is on the verge of setting the base paths on fire. Andrus leads all MLB players in hits in May with 23. His .418 batting average and .484 on base percentage are clear indications that Andrus may have corrected his main flaw -- that pesky inability to get on base consistently (.345 career OBP). At the moment, Andrus is on pace for career bests in AVG (.324) and OBP (.398). With those numbers, although he's currently on pace for just 26 SBs, it's difficult to see Andrus finishing with fewer than his career average of 34 steals.
Josh Reddick, OF, OAK: Another player enjoying a certain amount of May success is Josh Reddick. While he's far from a star player, Reddick is carving out quite a name for himself in the Bay Area, typically a place for players to toil in anonymity. With a .285 average, nine home runs and 20 runs batted in, it will be next to impossible for Fantasy owners to ignore Reddick for long. Reddick's May numbers have been especially good: .300 AVG, 5 HRs, 11 RBIs. Perhaps most impressive though, Reddick reached base only twice via walk through April, but he's managed to draw a walk 10 times already in May, helping to push his OBP to .417 for the month. What's more, Reddick is tied for fourth among all MLB regulars with 13 runs scored in May -- not bad for a guy that began the year without a clear path to a starting job.
NOTE: All stats as of 05-15-2012