The Month of May Has Belonged to Marco Scutaro

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Jeff Roberson- Associated Press

There is a group of hitters who are having a strong May–Joey Votto (.443 BA), Evan Longoria (.273 ISO), Paul Goldschmidt (7 HR, 18 RBI) and Norichika Aoki (.481 OBP, 3.7 K%) to name a few.

And no one has been better this season than reigning MVP Miguel Cabrera–.413 average, .400 ISO, 244 wRC+ and a .537 wOBA.

The month of May, however, belongs to San Francisco Giants’ second baseman Marco Scutaro.

Since May 1st, Scutaro leads all hitters (with at least 60 plate appearances) with a .472 batting average (.337 for the season) and is third–behind Cabrera and Goldschmidt–in wOBA with a .496.

Through the last several seasons, Scutaro has been a very good hitter–holding at least a .275 average. While there is likely an element of luck at play here, it’s not a complete anomaly.

Scutaro has proven to be a disciplined hitter–a 10.7% strikeout rate for his career–but in his last 17 games, Scutaro has struck out just 2.5% of at-bats. That’s not a totally unheard of number–you can avoid strikeouts while still producing fielded outs–but what makes it impressive is that Scutaro’s BABIP is .478 through this stretch.

He’s got to be the luckiest hitter in the league, right?

It’s entirely possible but bear in mind Scutaro consistently makes contact on over 95% of his swings and this season, on pitches in the strike zone, he’s made contact on 98% of his swings–most of which have found fair territory.

You make that high of contact, balls are bound to find a hole in the field from time to time, but Scutaro isn’t simply a free swinger–he’s whiffed on just under 2% of pitches he’s swung at.

To reinforce my point, here’s a chart of what he’s swung at in 2013 (courtesy of texasleaguers.com):

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That’s selective

Is he doing something different? Has he changed his approach? It doesn’t seem so.

When you compare his plate discipline this season with his career, almost everything looks right in line with his at-bat behaviors:

O-SW% Z-SW% SW% O-CNT% Z-CNT% CNT% Whiff%
2013 20.4 % 58.8 % 41.3 % 85.3 % 98.1 % 95.2 % 1.4 %
Career 17.6 % 59.3 % 39.7 % 83.0 % 95.2 % 92.6 % 2.90%

*O- out of the zone, Z- in the zone, SW- swing, CNT- contact

Scutaro is just doing everything right for the Giants with either a fair amount of luck or just plain skillful contact which he’s always possessed. He’s helped San Francisco regain its footing in the NL West by putting himself on base for the middle of the order (second with 229 wRC+ in May), walking just 7.6% of at bats (6.9% for the season).

He’s tied with Cabrera, Longoria and Mike Trout with a 1.6 WAR in May.

His bat is doing all the work, and its rivaling the best hitters in baseball. Sustainable? Probably not, but regardless, Scutaro has caught some kind of fire these past few weeks that has elevated him to possibly the best hitter in baseball for the month of May.