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Past & Present: The May swoon, fact or fiction?

Is it inevitable that the Rockies will play poorly in May, or is something else afoot?

Troy Tulowitzki and the Rockies are off to a 5-8 start in May, a downgrade from their 16-11 mark in April.
Troy Tulowitzki and the Rockies are off to a 5-8 start in May, a downgrade from their 16-11 mark in April.

With the Rockies recent struggles, especially on offense, there have been a lot of folks out there, fans and otherwise, saying things along the lines of, "Well, this is just what happens to the Rockies in May." But is that the case? Have the Rockies always been a bad team in May? Let's take a look at the numbers to see if the Rockies just struggle in May or if the assumption that they do stems from some sort of confirmation bias.

Here is the Rockies all-time record by month:

March/April: 234-251 (.482)
May: 250-327 (.433)
June: 265-277 (.489)
July: 240-295 (.449)
August: 269-284 (.486)
September/October: 264-262 (.502)

Looking at that data, the largest set of raw numbers, May has been the worst month for the Rockies historically, but not by a wide margin, they have only been about a game worse per season in May than in July.

Looking at more recent history, the Rockies were 10-18 in May last season, which was actually their third-best month of the season, behind an 11-11 April and a 16-13 August. It seems fair to say that the Rockies struggles in May 2012 were down to them being a bad team, rather than some sort of May voodoo.

However, in 2011, May was easily the Rockies worst month. The team's 8-21 record in May 2011 was sandwiched between a 17-8 April and a 14-13 mark in June. That is definitely a significant issue where the Rockies performed well below their season standard in the month of May.

The Rockies actually had a winning record in May 2010, going 16-12, and their 12-17 performance in May 2009 was actually slightly better than their 8-12 mark in April that year.

In 21 seasons, the Rockies have been worse in May than they were in April 12 times, roughly 57 percent of the time. In 20 season, they have been worse in May than in June 11 times, 55 percent of the time.

So, what has happened in May 2013? So far, the Rockies are 5-8 this month, not great, but certainly salvageable with 15 games left to play this month, nine of which are at Coors Field. Still, 5-8 in May is a significant drop off from a 16-11 April, so there must be some reason, other than random variance, that the Rockies have struggled this month.

A good portion of the Rockies issues this month comes down to schedule. Here is a list of the first 17 starting pitchers the Rockies have faced in May, including the probables for the upcoming series with the Giants:

Josh Beckett
Matt Moore
David Price
Alex Cobb
Hiroki Kuroda
David Phelps
CC Sabathia
Shelby Miller
Adam Wainwright
Jaime Garcia
Travis Wood
Carlos Villanueva
Jeff Samardzija
Matt Cain
Madison Bumgarner
Tim Lincecum
Barry Zito

There aren't a whole lot of cupcakes on that list, so it's not really a surprise the Rockies have struggled offensively, especially when you consider that seven of the 13 games have been away from Coors Field.

Not only have the Rockies been facing quality pitchers, they have faced quality teams in May and will continue to do so. Of their 28 games in May, 19 are against teams that currently have winning records.

Even with the tough schedule and slow start to the month, there is still a pretty clear path for the Rockies to a .500 record in May. If they can put together a winning record on the upcoming seven-game homestand, salvage a game in San Francisco, take three of four from the Astros and win their series opener against the Dodgers at Coors on the 31st, they will have a 14-14 record for May against mostly quality opposition.

So yes, the Rockies have been worse than their standard in May, both overall and in 2013, but not so much so that anyone should just write the month off as a lost cause.