Stripping a fantasy baseball season down to any particular window of statistics doesn't tell the whole story about a certain player -- for better or worse -- but a noteworthy stretch can tell us things about someone we may not have considered. It's second nature to take a closer look at what we saw in April leading off the season, and the same exercise in May can be just as revealing.
The point here isn't to parrot the obvious about superb May performers, like "Kris Bryant and Nolan Arenado are good," "Rafael Devers continues to grow," or "Gleyber Torres loves facing the Orioles."
Let's go with the more helpful angle: focusing on May mashers on fewer than 50 percent of ESPN fantasy rosters. Were these hot performances at the plate merely a great stretch, or the sign of something bigger to come?
(Note: May stats include MLB ranks in parentheses when applicably awesome. All stats per ESPN Tru Media.)
Avisail Garcia, OF, Rays
22.4 percent rostered | May: .360 BA (4th), 1.037 OPS (7th), 6 HR
Several of the Rays' offseason buy-low moves have cashed in, though Garcia's arrival loses some spotlight when compared to Austin Meadows, Tyler Glasnow and Yandy Diaz. The former Tigers/White Sox youngster once drew comparisons to Miguel Cabrera but sputtered in the power department. Tampa Bay decided to throw a dart that he could rediscover his .330/.380/.506 slash from 2017, and the seventh-year veteran has rewarded them.
After all, his top-50 average exit velocity of 91.0 mph from 2017 to '19 ranks higher than those of Mike Trout, Mookie Betts, Juan Soto and Francisco Lindor. Similar to what Tampa Bay faced with Diaz, Garcia's launch angle wasn't clicking; in 2019, he's crept upward at 11.2 degrees, up from 9.3 and 9.0, respectively, in turn increasing his homer potential. He's also targeted the 10-to-30-degree window, which is optimal for homers, 33.1 percent of the time -- a stark improvement from 2018's 24.6 percent.
Though the Rays may sit him against some tough right-handed pitchers, the 27-year-old boasts the highest ceiling of anyone in this group and may have locked himself into the DH role. Even with the possible lineup inconsistency, scoop him up immediately so he can at minimum be your utility player three times per week.
Bryan Reynolds, OF, Pirates
18.3 percent | May: .322/.409/.575 (18th, BA), 4 HR, 16 RBI.
A 2016 second-round pick acquired from the Giants in the Andrew McCutchen trade, Reynolds has at times looked like peak Cutch, stabilizing an often weak Pirates outfield.
The 24-year-old has sped through the minors, spending no more than 541 plate appearances at each stop -- including only 57 in Triple-A this year before his promotion -- though he's been a tad old for each level. The Pirates are in a spot to try him for an extended period, though, as they need to make up for selling Austin Meadows last year and basically have a Corey Dickerson replacement. Reynolds' 58.6% batted balls of 95-plus mph last month ranked ninth.
Although the switch hitter's tools look above average across the board, I don't yet foresee him excelling at one fantasy category in particular over a full season; he'll probably endure a little bit of a dip with a larger sample of showdowns versus major league pitching. Regardless, anyone playing in a fantasy league that incorporates OPS should like his makeup. Reynolds' gap power gives him plenty of extra-base-hit upside and could eventually become something more with an adjustment or help from the new baseball.
Perhaps doubt over him sustaining this success could actually allow NL-only dynasty players to get him on the cheap, leaving room for him to increase your ROI as he gains experience.
Renato Nunez, 3B, Orioles
23.6 percent | May: 8.2 HR% (10th), 8 HR
Because Nunez also left the yard five times in April, the Orioles' typical DH has seized a chance at regular work for the rebuilding club. He's batted lower than sixth just three times in 53 starts and recently hit third or cleanup for nine straight contests.
While his batted-ball distribution looks a lot like his 2018 tease, Nunez has unlocked more power with a slightly higher pull rate (54.2 percent so far, compared to 42.6 last year). Through Monday, Nunez ranked in the top 25 with an average fly-ball exit velocity of 95.8 mph and 59.5 percent of aerial shots of 95-plus mph, shedding a bad reputation he earned in his farm days of hitting too many popups.
Unfortunately, barring a drastic shift in approach, the 25-year-old's same-field tendency limits his upside with batting average; he did hit just .217 in May despite his homer increase. Baltimore prospect Ryan Mountcastle could arrive in the bigs sometime this year to join Nunez, Rio Ruiz (a better defender at third), Chris Davis and Mark Trumbo, so Nunez may have to keep raking to protect his share of 1B/3B/DH playing time.
However, if the O's can pawn off one of their vets on another team -- or maybe Nunez himself -- things could clear up a bit. In deeper formats where midweek lineup juggling could give you an edge, Nunez could at least be a matchup play versus lefties (.957 OPS in 78 plate appearances this year) and at his hitters' haven of Camden Yards (.282/.342/.609, 10 homers).
Brandon Dixon, 1B, Tigers
0.7 percent | May: .305/.328/.627 (top 20, SLG), 5 HR
Dixon fell flat with a .178/.218/.356 in his brief 2018 big league debut, chiefly as a bench piece, but has elbowed his way into a decent 2019 role with the Tigers, who are thinking long term.
Emerging from the depths, the 27-year-old Quad-A type ranked second (minimum 50 plate appearances) in two enticing May categories: average exit velocity (96.5 mph) and batted balls of 95-plus mph (61.8 percent). Dixon also lifted 41.2 percent of his batted balls in the 10-to-30-degree launch angle window, tied for the 20th-best rate with the Dodgers' Justin Turner and just behind the Braves' Ronald Acuna Jr.
Dixon recently rolled with a nine-game hit streak in which he went 12-for-30, and the righty batter hasn't shown typical platoon tendencies, hitting four of his five homers off righties. Detroit has sustained several infield injuries, clearing the way for Dixon to see at least semi-regular work for the next few weeks; he's slowly climbed in the batting order and hit cleanup on back-to-back days versus righty pitchers last weekend.
Still, he'll need to continue scalding the ball at eye-popping levels to overcome rampant strikeout issues (37.6 percent), so don't commit too strongly in mixed leagues. He's done most of his damage on the road (.328/.359/.638 outside of Comerica Park, where he's .219/.242/.344), so in certain favorable parks, he could even work as a mixed-league turn-and-burn pickup for head-to-head/points leagues.