Five early surprises: Can they keep it up?

Acquiring Paul Maholm from the Cubs in 2012 has worked out extremely well for Atlanta. Brad Mills/USA TODAY Sports

During spring training, it's not easy to recognize which performances and numbers are legit and which are merely mirages. Spring numbers are never a truly accurate barometer of what to expect from a player during the season. Likewise, early-season numbers are almost as deceiving.

The following five players have enjoyed success early in 2013, but what are we to make of it? Could their terrific play in the first three weeks of the season foreshadow a breakout campaign? Whether resulting from more playing time or new skills acquired in the offseason, this group is performing at a high level right now. The only question is, can they keep it up?

1. Paul Maholm | LHP | Atlanta Braves

Last July, the Braves attempted to acquire Ryan Dempster from the Cubs, but Dempster exercised his no-trade clause. So the Braves instead traded prospects for another Cubs starter in Paul Maholm. It was fortuitous for the Braves as they later used the prospects offered in the Dempster trade to acquire Justin Upton from the Diamondbacks. More important, Maholm has simply been more successful than Dempster since the trade.

Maholm is 3-0 this year with a 0.00 ERA, yielding just 11 hits in 20 1/3 innings pitched while striking out 20 and walking just five. As Senior VP and GM Frank Wren described him to me this week, Maholm “has become a top-flight command-and-control left-handed starter.”