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Silver League Update: RBIs Off The Wire

I was excited this week because I had inched up the Silver League standings to an almost-middle-of-the-pack ninth place on the strength of an excellent Thursday. Even more exciting, I had moved up to eighth place in RBIs, for a season-high five points in the category! It was thrilling. I wanted more.

I wasn't the only one, though. The Spirit of St. Louis flipped the underperforming Shane Victorino to Left is Right for Josh Willingham. St. Louis wondered if it was a case of selling too low for too high and maybe it was, but Willingham's power has played his whole career. He just hasn't always stayed on the field, missing so much time to injury. That's one way to get RBIs, but I don't have much on my team that's useful in trades (Willingham would be my best position player and Victorino wouldn't be too far behind). As always, I turned my attention to the waiver wire.

With an injury to Jose Bautista (so much for my evaluation of that trade), Travis Snider has made his return to the Majors and the Silver  is one of just 2% of leagues that has picked him up. I was too late to snag him for RBI help, but given how he was hitting in the minors (.325/.409/.567), he could be worth another shot. Again. He's been batting eighth, but if he hits well enough to be worth rostering, you can expect him to move up in the order. That would put him nearer to Edwin Encarnacion (.385 OBP) and  allow him to stay in the lineup when Bautista (.360 OBP) comes back. Of course, maybe Snider will do what he always does, and head back to the minors in search of his own Minor League home run record.

After that my next (and least sensible) choice was to sort the available players by RBIs. I learned from Moneyball that past success can indicate future success, but my options weren't exactly overwhelming. Topping the list with 50 RBIs was J.D. Martinez (15% owned). Batting third for the Astros, I was intrigued until I looked closer at just who he's batting behind: Jordan Schafer (.313 OBP) and Jose Altuve (.330 OBP). Shafer's just embarrassing as a leadoff hitter and Altuve's surprisingly decent season makes him look like an All-Star next to the Astros. He...um...isn't, at least not in the on-base department. I'm not quite desperate enough to let someone go for Martinez.

Not far down the list is Raul Ibanez (19%). I've mentioned him before and, while I really don't like hitters that I have to platoon, he's got his uses. It's been a rough month for the veteran slugger, with just eight RBIs, but he has continued to bat behind Nick Swisher and Mark Teixeira (both on-basing .342). If you can handle benching someone against lefties, or playing him mostly at home Ibanez could be worth a few extra runs batted in. Teammate Andruw Jones (2%) has had a much better month, with six homers and 13 RBIs but he's still the short half of the real life platoon.

Justin Smoak (10%) leads Silver League free agents with 13 homers, but his team keeps his RBI opportunities down. So does his sub-Mendoza batting average. Pass.

Underwhelmed by the opportunities I could see this way, I started looking by team runs scored. Even lesser players on top scoring teams should drive in some runs by accident, right? Boston and Texas top the list, but unfortunately, Boston's lineup has settled in to a bunch of guys already owned on most teams now that Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford have come back. For the Rangers, the only name who stood out was Craig Gentry (1%). He hasn't exactly been a full time player, but his 20 RBIs in 159 at bats have been pretty good. And batting ninth in the Texas lineup is better than batting third for Houston. He's probably worth more of a look if the Rangers shuffle things up a little less and play him a little more, but you don't find too many no-namers with a .340 average and nine steals. Keep an eye on him.

Disappointed to see a mix of players good enough to be on almost everyone's team and cunning real-life platoons on top scoring teams (St. Louis, Toronto, Colorado, and the Yankees proved less than fruitful), I decided to take a different tack. What about getting the guys who hit behind superstars stuck on bad teams? This idea led me to Andrew McCutchen and his .427 OBP. Hitting behind him: Garrett Jones (17%). Unfortunately, he's already taken in the Silver, but he's exactly the sort of player I'm looking for: decent and hits behind a great player. With his manger predicting more playing time, expect Jones to be a pretty good pickup for the rest of the season.

Speaking of Joneses, Adam Jones is pretty good and the Orioles aren't too good: opportunity? Batting directly behind Jones is Matt Wieters, who isn't available in tons of leagues. But next is typically Wilson Betemit (5%), particularly with Chris Davis playing more in the outfield. Betemit isn't awesome, but he isn't terrible and could be getting more RBIs as things continue. He's more of a reserve for your fantasy squad, but his triple-position eligibility (OF/3B/1B) helps him achieve that.

On the West Coast, we're seeing a lot of Alberto Callaspo (2%) batting behind Mark Trumbo (.358 OBP). He isn't a power hitter, but his teammates have propelled him to 31 RBIs, including 13 in the last month. Up the coast in Oakland, Seth Smith (4%) has usually been batting behind Yoenis Cespedes (.361 OBP), and Josh Reddick (.351 OBP). Smith is a bit of a part timer, and he doesn't tear the cover off the ball, but he hits his teammates in pretty often. With Joey Votto's injury, Todd Frazier (7%) should be getting more playing time. The only downside is that he won't be able to hit Votto in.

With RBIs so much the province of home run hitters, they can be hard to come by off the waiver wire. There are always a few options, but you might be best off trying to run the hot streaks of players like Smith, Betemit, and Callaspo together, hoping they can take advantage of their more talented teammates. Of the players I looked at only two, Snider and Garrett Jones (Him? Yes, him.) look to me like they're worth making using a permanent roster spot on. 

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