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Consider This by Baseball Prospectus
Jon Heyman
April 09, 2007
APRIL FOOLS IN BASEBALL. When the calendar turned to May in 2006, the Tigers' Chris Shelton was tied for the American League lead with 10 home runs—he would end his year with 16—while the Rockies, Reds and Rangers led their divisions. (They would each finish with losing records.) For players with something to prove, however, April can be pivotal. Here are three to watch closely this month.
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April 09, 2007

Consider This By Baseball Prospectus

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APRIL FOOLS IN BASEBALL.
When the calendar turned to May in 2006, the Tigers' Chris Shelton was tied for the American League lead with 10 home runs—he would end his year with 16—while the Rockies, Reds and Rangers led their divisions. (They would each finish with losing records.) For players with something to prove, however, April can be pivotal. Here are three to watch closely this month.

Mark Buehrle, LHP, White Sox
His velocity was down in the second half of 2006, resulting in a 6.44 ERA after the All-Star break. Buehrle hired a personal trainer this winter and committed to a new conditioning program, but his 6.95 ERA in spring training did not reflect all that hard work. If Buehrle is going to get back to being the pitcher who averaged 16 wins from 2001 through '05, it will be clear sooner rather than later.

Alex Rios, OF, Blue Jays
He was two different hitters last season. In the first half he transformed himself into a power hitter, launching 15 home runs by June 14 after hitting all of 10 in 2005. Rios suffered a staph infection two weeks later, though, and when he returned, he was unable to pull the ball; he hit just two more home runs in his final 31 games. The real Rios should stand up in April.

Jason Jennings (left), RHP, Astros
Houston is gambling that his 3.56 ERA in 15 starts at Coors Field last season was no fluke. But because 2006 was the Year of the Humidor in Colorado, statistics there are almost impossible to interpret. How Jennings performs in his first few starts at Minute Maid Park—itself no paradise for pitchers—should reveal a great deal about whether he's the No. 2 starter that the Astros thought they had traded for.

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