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Silver League Update: Change Happens Fast

When I check on the Silver League, I usually go straight to my team for the bad news. Usually, I see that I've lost a point, or gained a half-point, something like that. Most days, it seems like everything is completely set in stone, and that if I'm ever going to climb out of the eight-ninth range, it will take months of building. But, at least, I'm not going to fall into last in a day, right?

When several of my pitchers -- Max Scherzer, Brad Lincoln, and probably some others -- combined for about 20 innings and an ERA over 6.50, though, I had a feeling I'd be making a pretty big drop. ... Sure enough, I began last week in the middle of the pack in ERA, and I felt pretty good. Now I'm in 11th, and I have to admit that my team really has no strengths beyond stealing bases. I may be first in strikeouts and second in wins, but if my ERA Armageddon proved anything, it's that I only have those categories from sheer quantity of pitching.

I only dropped four points that day, which isn't really all that bad when you're 30 points out of first and 10 points from seventh, I guess. It got me thinking, though; in a way, it gave me hope. What goes down can come back up -- at least in the volatile ratio categories.

Before you rain on my parade with "facts," like how much easier it is to fall in a category than rise, or how much harder it is to dig yourself out of an early hole than bounce up and down all season, consider this: McRuder --league doormat for two months -- is suddenly on my heels for eighth place (or "best bad team," the way our scores break down). To put this in perspective, I'm sure it was only a couple weeks ago that I was still in eighth or ninth, but as far from McRuder as I was from the top couple teams. His team has gone off like a rocket, and it's making me kind of nervous. And hopeful.

Not all of McRuder's rise can be attributed to batting average, but lots of it can. After a little while of searching, I found a cool graph and the line shows McRuder with just two points in average only three weeks ago--it goes basically straight up from there. By last week, he was mid-pack. Now, he's sitting in second place and should be congratulating himself for not giving up on the year. For the last two weeks, he's gotten some pretty gaudy averages, both from superstars like Joey Votto (.512), and from role players like Yadier Molina (.415), Michael Brantley (.362), Kendrys Morales (.361), and Allen Craig (.344). The result has been about fifteen points of batting average.

I was going to write about how McRuder increased in runs and RBIs thanks to the extra hits dropping in (it seemed like a perfectly fair assumption, right?), but more "facts" got in the way. Somehow, he's still near last in both categories. If his hitting keeps up, though, you'd have to expect some kind of increase there.

Unfortunately, leagues aren't won or lost thanks only to the rate categories -- those counting stats still matter. They can be a lot harder to make progress in, but if you find yourself falling behind in them maybe the thing to do is to trade away some rate-category value for a power hitter or a strikeout pitcher. If average and ERA can change this much in a couple weeks, that means they can change with or without the influence of any one player. The same can't be said for a single hitter on a home run binge or a pitcher on a dominant outing.

The point, I suppose, is not to give up. Don't just bank on luck -- I've written enough posts on McRuder and his trades to know that's not what he's doing -- but what's been bad can still turn good. Sure enough, the day I wrote this, I picked up three points. It seemed like so many -- just nine more days like that and I'm (almost) in the lead!

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