Closers Papelbon, Ray finding early success

While April performance is no guarantee of future results, it's still encouraging. Jerry Crasnick gives us eight players off to impressive starts.

Originally Published: April 22, 2006
By Jerry Crasnick | ESPN.com
People who make a living watching ball games have a general rule of thumb about April observations: They're dangerous, and frequently proven wrong with time.

"It's early," said an American League scout. "We've played one-tenth of the schedule. You should never judge a player in spring training or September, and you never judge a team in April."

So what do we make of numbers in the first three weeks? Does Brandon Phillips' fast start in Cincinnati mean that he's finally arrived, or that opponents have yet to expose his flaws? Does Manny Ramirez's early power outage mean he's due for a huge May and June, or mentally disengaged?

Jerry Crasnick | email

ESPN.com MLB Sr. Writer