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Who's hot, who's not

Pair of young middle infielders off to surprising starts

Posted: Tuesday April 19, 2005 3:28PM; Updated: Tuesday April 19, 2005 3:56PM
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Clint Barmes
Clint Barmes has been a rare bright spot for the Rockies.
Brian Bahr/Getty Images

The main story line early in the Major League Baseball season has been the wretched performances by closers. But what has surprised us more than anything has been how many starters -- from the Marlins' rotation to Roger Clemens to Rich Harden to Tim Hudson to Pedro Martinez to Jake Peavy and many more -- are off to strong openings. The question for fantasy owners is, how many of these guys will hold up for an entire season? Don't be fooled by a fast start. If a pitcher has age and injury issues, use his hot first month to get maximum value in a trade.

Five hot hitters

1. Brian Roberts, Orioles: Roberts has made the New York Yankees his personal punching bag in 2005 while getting off to the most surprising start in baseball. He's hit in all 12 games this season and has five homers after belting four all of last year. He also has 14 RBIs, 15 runs scored and six stolen bases.

2. Clint Barmes, Rockies: Colorado can't win, but Barmes is making the most of playing in the thin air. Over his past six games, the shortstop is 8 for 20 with two homers and six RBIs. 

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3. Miguel Tejada, Orioles: After a rough opening series against Oakland, Tejada is back to being the best hitting shortstop in baseball. Over his past six games, the 2002 MVP is hitting .400 with three HRs, three doubles, a triple and 13 RBIs.

4. Derrek Lee, Cubs: Lee is off to his usual fast start: he's hitting .429 over his past six games with one homer, two doubles, nine RBIs. Keep in mind Lee hit .304 in the first half last season and .249 following the break.

5. Jose Vidro, Nationals: Despite playing in front of nobody in Montreal for years, Vidro always hit. Now, with the Nationals have a love affair with their home fans, the second baseman is poised for a monster year. Over his past five games, Vidro is hitting .467 with two doubles, a triple, a homer, five runs scored and eight RBIs.

Five hot pitchers

1. A.J. Burnett, Marlins: Burnett threw two complete games this week, allowing two earned runs in each victory. He hasn't had the electric strikeout stuff of years past, but it looks like he's learned how to pitch. If he's healthy, Burnett easily will win 20 games this year.

2. Gustavo Chacín, Blue Jays: The rookie left-hander is coming off a stellar start at Texas, in which he pitched eight shutout innings for his third win of the season. His first two victories were against Tampa Bay and Oakland -- not exactly teams with powerhouse lineups. But after allowing just two hits against the Rangers, Chacin may have convinced more people that he is for real.

3. Jason Marquis, Cardinals: Marquis also could be poised for a 20-win season. He's allowed just one earned run in each of this three starts this season and picked up two wins this week.