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Fluke... or for real?

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My weekly column is up over at the Roto Times:

I've mentioned numerous times in this space that I'm a fan of the Detroit Tigers, but it's that enthusiasm for the team that has me reluctant to mention Chris Shelton, the former Rule 5 pick who's currently making a charge at the Triple Crown. The man they like to call "Red Pop" here in Detroit has already clobbered seven home runs, and with a hefty 1.832 OPS, he's simply obliterated American League pitchers so far. Is his early success for real, or is he three strokes before midnight away from turning into a pumpkin?

While even the most ardent Tigers fans should take his impressive display of power with a grain (or six) of salt, it should be known that his early-season success can't be considered an entire fluke. This guy has hit .332 over five minor league seasons - there's no doubt that he can rake. In fact, the only reason the Pirates failed to protect him from the Rule 5 draft after the 2003 season was because of his questionable fielding. (Okay, "questionable" isn't the right word, since there's no "question" that his fielding isn't good. But it's hardly horrible, at least for a team that uses Dmitri Young as a baseline for acceptable.)

But how long can Shelton keep hitting bombs? Counting his home run in Thursday's game, he already has seven dingers in nine games. Over a 162-game season, that puts him on pace for about 120 on the year, give or take a dozen. The absurdity of that projection is enough to tell you that it won't last forever, but it should be noted that he's not just hitting home runs - he has four doubles and two triples, which should tell you that he's stinging line drives just about every time he steps up to the plate.

In addition to discussing Shelton, I also take a look at Alexis Rios, who may have finally turned the corner to make the most of his considerable physical skills. Read the whole of the column for more.

Are there any players out there who you feel will turn their "fluke" starts into breakout seasons?

Fluke... or for real? [Roto Times]