Every year numerous hitters across baseball get off to incredible starts in April. Most years its a group of guys not typically known for their bat or are unknowns in general. See Chris Shelton or Dmitri Young.
This year is a little different. While there are some fairly unknowns like Mark Reynolds and Nate McClouth off to phenomenal starts, many of the league stars are coming out of the gate already in mid-season form. Here's 10 all-star caliber players starting out the 2008 campaign right.
1. Chipper Jones. One of the few remaining members of the dominant Braves teams of the 1990s, Chipper has been injury free to begin the year and he's absolutely raking the ball. Now Jones typically isn't a slow starter as he's got a career .323 average and .967 OPS in April. But this year, the Braves 3B is off to the best start in baseball. He's leading the majors in hits (30) and average (.455). He's also tied for the league lead in home runs (6) and RBIs (18). Jones says, "This is one of those crazy streaks you get in once every couple of years."
2. Manny Ramirez. Remember that "disappointing" 2007 season? The one where Man-Ram only hit 20 home runs and .296. Well Manny is doing everything he can in April to help Boston fans forget about it. Ramirez has 13 extra base hits already including seven doubles and five dingers. His OPS is almost .150 higher than his 2007 OPS. Manny is keeping a first place team running while slugger David Ortiz has struggled.
3. Derek Lee. The Cubs 1B suffered through a power outage during the first half of 2007, but after he returned from his broken hand, Lee has 22 home runs in 83 games. Six of those have already come in 2008. He's tied with Chipper Jones for the league lead in home runs and has a cool .357 average. Lee's a solid hitter in April with a .282 career average, but this great start has to have Cubs fans excited for dawg days of August.
4. Chase Utley. The trendy pick to be the Phillies' third straight MVP is off to a roaring start. He's showing the best power of his young career, belting six homers already. His compact stroke is allowing him to rip inside pitches out to right field. Utley is also batting a solid .332 just like he did in all of 2007.
5. David Wright. Gold Glove defense, speed, and power. Wright encompasses it all. It's quickly looking like his fourth full season in the bigs will without a doubt be his best. He's batting a slick .333 with an OPS well over 1.100. Throw in an improved eye, 13 BB to 8 k's, and Wright is battering opposing pitches early on. He's picking up the slack for his teammates who aren't exactly hitting the ball all too well right now.
6. Pat Burrell. Alright so Pat the Bat isn't a year in and year out all-star, but Burrell has been one of the best hitters in baseball since July 1st last year. He's got 28 homeruns since then which is near the top of the league. He's continued that success in 2008 with six dingers and a .364 batting average. Burrell is showing early in 2008 he can be the protection the Phillies need for Ryan Howard to see some pitches to hit.
7. Matt Holliday. His numbers are slightly off his 2007 pace, but Holliday is still turning in all-star quality numbers. He's batting an impressive .333 with an OPS just below 1.000. Holliday only has three home runs in the early going, but he's running the base paths very well. He's already swiped four bags in April.
8. Chone Figgins. Who remembers the start to his 2007 season? He missed almost the first month due to injury. Angels fans wish he would have sat out the next month after he tallied just 15 hits in 94 at bats. The ultimate utilityman followed his 2007 May up by batting .461 in June. Figgins has been on fire ever since. He's batting almost .400 and already has seven steals. The Angel's spark plug is firing on all cylinders.
9. Tori Hunter. A change of scenery certainly hasn't slowed Hunter down. The Twin's former Spiderman found a place in Angel's fans hearts early in 2008 with a walk-off grandslam in the 7th game of the year. Hunter's overall numbers remain strong. He's got a .323 BA and four homeruns. His gold glove defense is always a plus too.
10. Lance Berkman. Rounding out this top ten, Big Puma himself. The last member of Houston's deadly killer Bees is stinging pitchers and catchers early in 2008. A smooth .995 OPS and three steals means Berkman is off to another great start. He's got a long way to go if he wants to top his 2006 April when he belted 10 home runs and .728 slugging percentage.