April Surprises

Francisco Liriano has a 4-0 record, an ERA of 1.50 and a WHIP of 1.08 through April.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - It's always nice when your "late-round flyer" pans out just as you expected on Draft Day. It doesn't usually happen, but when it does...wow!

For me, I made a late selection of Minnesota Twins starter Francisco Liriano (ADP 604) who was still trying to bounce back from 2007 Tommy John surgery. Well, after a year and a half of struggling, it appears that Liriano has returned to his 2006 form when the then 22-year-old exploded onto the scene by going 12-3 with an ERA of 2.16 and a 1.00 WHIP.

Liriano was hurt in the fall of 2006, missed all of 2007 and disappointed fantasy owners with a two-year record of 11-17 upon his return to the field. But things have completely turned around in 2010 and Liriano is the "ace" of the Twins staff with a stunning 4-0 record, an ERA of 1.50 and a WHIP of 1.08.

Here are four other pitchers and five hitters, all late-round or free agent selections, who have been huge surprises with their early season performances.

Mike Pelfrey, New York Mets, (ADP 343) - After posting a 10-12 record in 2009 with an ugly ERA of 5.03 and WHIP of 1.51, Pelfrey wasn't likely selected on Draft Day. Those who reacted to his quick start have been rewarded as he was great through the end of April with a 4-0 record and even a save. The Phillies ended his string of excellent starts on May 1st as he yielded six runs and eight hits in just four innings. Watch carefully as to whether that was just a bad outing or a return to the form which caused him not to be drafted.

David Price, Tampa Bay, (ADP 202) - Price has always had superior talent, he just hadn't put it together until this spring. His hits and walks are down and his ERA is a sparkling 2.34 with a 1.01 WHIP. For some reason it usually takes lefties longer to figure it out, but the 2010 version of David Price is a top-50 fantasy value. He could stay there for many years to come.

Barry Zito, San Francisco, (ADP 452) - After seven years of mediocrity or worse, I couldn't pull the trigger on picking up Zito and it'll cost me. This is the guy who went 23-5 in 2002. He's 4-0 with a 1.53 EERA and a 0.88 WHIP. Hopefully you were smarter than me and picked him up because he's pitching like a top-20 fantasy player.

Phil Hughes, New York Yankees, (ADP 255) - If you pitch for the Yankees, you could be 3-0 like Hughes with a high ERA and WHIP, but he's earned his wins the right way. Hughes has thrown 25 innings and has a stunning ERA of 1.44 and a WHIP of 0.88. He could easily win 16-19 victories this season...not bad for a 20th-round selection.

Paul Konerko, Chicago White Sox, (ADP 236) - Who could have imagined that Konerko would be leading the league in homers. He has 12 in 24 games. Beware, May has a history of being Konerko's worst hitting month with career lows in all statistical areas (batting .232, slugging .404, OPS .717). Perhaps now would be the perfect time to "sell."

Alex Gonzalez, Toronto, (ADP 1095) - Speaking of selling high, could Gonzalez be any hotter? He's already equaled his HR total from 2009 with eight homers in 105 at-bats. His fantasy value will never be higher than it is today.

Ty Wigginton, Baltimore, (ADP 726) - Wigginton is not only the Orioles' best hitter, he's also a multi-positional player which makes his fantasy value even higher. He is batting .329 with an OPS of 1.158. It's too bad the rest of the Baltimore team isn't hitting.

Kosuke Fukudome, Chicago Cubs, (ADP 276) - We've seen fast starts from Fukudome before. His career April batting average, at least in this country, is .335. Too bad he never continues that streak into May. His May average is .289 and June is just .218. Sell! Sell! Sell!

Marlon Byrd, Chicago Cubs, (ADP 242) - If you are looking for a Chicago Cubs outfielder to hang onto, this is the one. Byrd is batting .354 with five homers and 19 RBI. He's coming off a 20-HR season and seems headed to another good year. And the best news is that he's owned in less than 65% of all leagues and you could have him for a waiver pickup.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.