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And don't say it's Albert Pujols. He isn't eligible for this award. In fact, let me rephrase the question: Who's your non-Pujols MVP?

Pujols was in a league of his own in April, but he wasn't the only guy to fill up the box scores last month. Here, in no particular order, are my nominees, 12 players - 6 hitters, 6 pitchers - who raced out of the gates in 2006 and made more than a few fantasy owners feel like geniuses. For more insight and analysis on the topic, check out our weekly podcast as Childs, Sheil and I talk about the best and worst of April and examine the possible return of Roger Clemens. You don't even need an iPod to listen, I promise.

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Stats are through games of May 1:

  • Vernon Wells, Blue Jays (.390, 9 HR, 25 RBI, 20 R, 3 SB): Wells is my pick as the best of April, if only because his speed allows him to contribute across the board. He has a hit in all but one of the games in which he's played this season.
  • Moises Alou, Giants (.360, 7 HR, 24 RBI): At least one player in the middle of the San Francisco order is on his game. Alou will drive in runs as long as teams continue to put Barry Bonds on base in front of him.
  • Nick Swisher, A's (.321, 10 HR, 24 RBI): Questionable staying power, but Swisher gets the nod as the most surprising offensive player of April. Chris Shelton? He's so two weeks ago.
  • Jason Giambi, Yankees (.328, 9 HR, 27 RBI): A year ago it looked like Giambi was washed up; now he's the hottest hitter in a loaded lineup. Considering the stellar second half he had in '05, he's a legitimate 40-HR threat again.
  • Lance Berkman, Astros (.333, 10 HR, 30 RBI): The RBI total - which ranks second only to Pujols' 34 - is particularly encouraging for a player who has averaged 94 RBIs over the past three seasons.
  • Miguel Tejada, Orioles (.411, 7 HR, 23 RBI): Make that 26 RBIs after his efforts Tuesday night. Seems Miggy's OK with being the DH while his knee heals. He's off the 31-RBI pace he set in April last season, but his league-leading average more than makes up for it.
  • Brandon Webb, Diamondbacks (4-0, 2.22 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 25 K): Webb seemed to be on the brink of stardom after a standout rookie season in 2003. Improved control this season (6 BBI in 44 2/3 IP) might help him get over the hump.
  • Bronson Arroyo, Reds (5-0, 2.06 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 34 K): Not only has the ex-Red Sox starter been better than Curt Schilling or Josh Beckett, he's also hit just one fewer home run (2) than the player he was traded for, Willy Mo Pena. Given his history and the Reds hitter-friendly home park, he's surely in for a major league correction.
  • Chris Capuano, Brewers (4-2, 2.36 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 40 K): He's the second coming of Doug Davis, an under-the-radar Brewers pitcher putting up silly strikeout numbers. He shares the major league lead in Ks with Schilling.
  • Mike Mussina, Yankees (4-1, 2.31 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 37 K): It's been a short-term return to form for Moose, who has put injuries behind him and put together a nice first month. I question his ability to keep it going for the long haul, but he'll have a chance to win at least 15 games for the Yanks.
  • Jose Contreras, White Sox (4-0, 1.46 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 17 K): Strikeout ratio is down, but everything else is looking up for the AL's pitcher of the month for April. He won the same award last September.
  • Greg Maddux, Cubs (5-0, 1.35 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, 24 K): Hard to believe that at age 40, Maddux, one of the greatest pitchers of his era, is off to the best start of his career. It's also hard to imagine him keeping it up.

For the record, Maddux got lit up pretty good on Wednesday night (5 IP, 5 ER, 10 H). April flowers, May showers, I suppose. Or something like that.

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