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Silver League Update: Wisdom of the Crowd

Well, another week has gone by, and little has changed in the overall look of our standings.The E-Z Sliders and Spirit of St. Louis sit on top, with another three teams not too far behind. We've got a big middle class and, that I'm excited to sit near the bottom of, after spending most of the week (and this article's first draft) in the cellar. While languishing in the misery and depression of last place I started to think about how to get my team out of the cellar and into ... maybe second-to-last place. Ultimately, my plan of injuring Jacoby Ellsbury and replacing him with Jon Jay helped my pitching a lot.

I decided to ask my leaguemates for help. Not directly, of course. I was curious about which commonly 0wned players don't have a place on our teams and which unknown players do. I like to think that, as a group, we know more than any one of us on our own. I took a look at popular hitters (owned in 15% or more of Yahoo! leagues) that we don't own, and under-the-radar hitters (owned in 12% or fewer leagues). I checked out the pitchers too, but they'll have to wait for their own article. I didn't include catchers, since we run a two-catcher league and own a bunch that nobody in one-catcher leagues would dream of picking up.

Popular Hitters We Don't Like

Chase Utley (72% owned) leads this pack for the moment. It was me who dropped him, and it was a roster crunch type of think. With no timetable till he returns, and an increasingly dim memory of how good he once was, I'm not sure he's really worth an own in most leagues. If you've got a DL slot, he's probably worth a flyer. He might even be picked up by press time.

Colby Rasmus (44%) Sporting a sub-.100 batting average and coming off a bad 2011, it's getting harder and harder to remember the promise (and actual fantasy value) he showed in 2010, and our league is one of many that has cut bait. Maybe we're impatient, or maybe deep down we respect Tony La Russa more than we'd admit. After trading to get him, I have to think the Jays will show some patience in handling Rasmus this year, but that doesn't mean your team has to.

Chipper Jones (35%) may be old and frail, but it looks like he might just be able to hit still. I'm thinking he was the victim of some hitter-streaming when he was released to waivers. While he's healthy, there are plenty of worse options for 3B and CI--the trouble is that if you use him, you'll be using one of those worse options quite a lot. He's another one that I expect to see picked up soon.

Jason Bay (26%) was a quiet bounce-back candidate before the season, thanks to the moving fences at Citi Field. I don't buy that idea and neither does the Silver League; his dropoff was just too total to be nothing but a tough park to hit in. I mean, he started his career in San Diego and Pittsburgh -- not exactly hitters' parks. His work this season is confirming our suspicions.

Chris Heisey (26%) was a semi-sleeper from the preseason, but isn't hitting well right now. If you've got him, you're probably safe to let them go until they hit a little.

Raul Ibanez (17%) has Yankee fame and a couple steals, but he's still a part-timer. He won't be stealing any more bases, and you shouldn't expect huge counting stats because he'll sit so often. If you've got the roster spots to run an outfield platoon, he could have use, but most leagues won't allow you that luxury. Grady Sizemore (16%) is basically a waste of your DL slot at this point. He hasn't been healthy or good in years, and he won't be back from the DL until June. Back injuries are power-killers anyway -- anybody remember Mike Sweeney?

Marco Scutaro (16%) isn't hitting in Colorado yet, but his 2B/SS eligibility gives him a reason to be on your team ... sort of. Robert Andino (16%) is eligible at 2B/SS/3B, so if you've got a medium-sized bench or fragile infielders (like Chipper, maybe) he's a perfectly good option with even a small amount of production. That's good, because a small amount is all you should expect to get.

Our Favorite Unknowns

OK, these guys may not be our favorite-favorites, but they're all owned for a reason. Well, mostly. Denard Span (12%) is off to a hot start after a lousy, 2011. He'd been a useful player before, and his .348 average is making him a sort of anti-Rasmus. The power won't be there, but if you've got Rasmus, and Span is available, it would be a reasonable swap. Dayan Viciedo (12%) has also hit a little and is worth using in the right situations.

Jed Lowrie (10%) is coming off the DL and is eligible at third base and shortstop. Snap him up. Maybe he'll hit; it won't take much for him to have value. Victor Martinez (9%) is the exception to my catcher filter, since he may be coming off the DL late in the season. I think he's got more value potential in head-to-head leagues than roto-style like ours, where his August-September timetable is disproportionately valuable. I'm not totally optimistic about his return, however. Nyjer Morgan (8%) hasn't done a thing to earn his spot in my lineup, but I'm stubbornly holding on to him for now. Tony Plush was good enough last year to hang around a little longer.

Ian Stewart (7%) might have the Cubs' trust for their third base job, but they aren't expecting to win anything this year and you still should be. His power history is memorable, though, and the payoff could be big. Just, don't bank on it. Eric Thames (5%) and Chris Davis (6%) are owned for their power, but they have just one homer between them. Either could get hot at any moment, though. Hopefully.

Michael Saunders (5%) is performing almost-well for the Mariners, but I've seen him in person too many times to trust him. Not that you shouldn't, I'm just admitting my bias. Brian Roberts (5%) isn't the worst DL stash ever, but I'm not too optimistic that his speed will be back if he returns. We also own Jason Bourgeois (3%), who might see more action with Lorenzo Cain on the DL. Keep an eye on him, as he could be a cheap source of steals if he hits well enough to steal the job.

We certainly don't have all the answers, but looking through this list, I saw several players I'm thinking of picking up in other leagues. This list isn't exhaustive (and maybe someone's just about to pick up Rasmus or drop Bourgeois), but it should help you make some roster decisions, especially in leagues where only three-quarters of owners are paying much attention.

If you've got a player that you think is undervalued by most leagues, post him in the comments. Maybe I'll be able to pick him up ...


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