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Shooting Stars in April

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By Dave Sheinin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, April 13, 2008

A.J. Pierzynski leading the majors in slugging percentage? Justin Germano and Oliver PĂ©rez sporting perfect ERAs? Just a few reasons April stats are not to be trusted. Need more evidence? Here are five examples of players who looked like Babe Ruth and Cy Young in March-April, but like -- well, like Mike Gallego and Tom Cheney the rest of the year:

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Chris Shelton, 2006

Detroit Tigers

He hit 10 homers and drove in 20 runs in April for the eventual AL pennant-winners. But he wasn't there for much of the stretch drive, having been sent to the minors in July, and come October was nowhere to be found on the postseason roster. Hasn't appeared in the majors since.

Tom Cheney, 1963

Washington Senators

With three complete games (two shutouts, and only an unearned run allowed in the other), he remains the only pitcher in history (minimum 25 IP) to escape April with a 0.00 ERA. But he would go 5-9 with a 3.38 ERA the rest of the way and was reduced to long relief/spot-starting for the last-place Senators by the end of the year.

Jonny Gomes, 2006

Tampa Bay Rays

His 11 homers and 23 RBI in April were impressive, but the 34 strikeouts -- tied for sixth most in history -- should have been a giveaway. He hit only nine more homers the rest of the year, batted .214 for the season and fell all the way to Class AAA for a spell the next summer.

Mike Gallego, 1989

Oakland Athletics

This light-hitting infielder went .442/.455/.558 (batting average/on-base/slugging) in April, then .220/.306/.289 the rest of the way for the World Series champs. Of course, these were the Bash Brother A's of Canseco and McGwire, so we wouldn't want to guess what was going on behind the scenes.

Kazuhisa Ishii, 2002

Los Angeles Dodgers

This rookie lefty went 5-0 in April, though he seemed to have some trouble throwing strikes. Sure enough, he had a losing record (9-10) the rest of the season, and posted the highest walks-per-nine-innings ratio (6.2) of any pitcher this century with at least 150 IP. Was out of the majors by 2005.


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