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Silver League Update: The Silver All-Star Team

With the All-Star break upon us, forcing us to take a rest from checking our lineups and reading box score, it seems as good a time as any to reflect upon the (half) season behind us. Gone are the hopes of spring, and the ability to remind ourselves that "it's still early" or "it's only been a couple starts, Lincecum'll snap out of it." Ahead of us are the pennant race, and the inevitable, artificial comparisons of play before and after the All-Star break. Soon we'll hit the trading deadline, and curse the baseball gods when our closer is traded into a setup role, praise them when our pitchers are traded away from the Cubs.

But for now, we have rest. And if your team is worth owning this year, it's driving you crazy. If you're like me, it's nice just to have a break from seeing how much farther behind your team is today than yesterday. In that spirit, the Silver League Update will celebrate one player from each team today -- that's right, we're having our own All-Star game. Well, more like an All-Star team, really.

Like most leagues, the Silver League has distilled its competitors from, well, the rest of us. Sitting alone atop the standings are the E-Z Sliders, nine points above the second place team. Two more teams, the Spirit of St. Louis and the Great Badbonis are about as far from first as they are from fourth, while the rest of us are spread out more or less evenly until we reach number twelve. Each team has its bright spots, though, (some more than others) and each gets just one representative on the Silver All-Star Team. Since this year's game will be held in Kansas City, we'll include a DH with our eight position players, two starters and lone reliever.

C   A.J. Pierzynski, Mr. Perfect 56 We're all pretty accustomed to Pierzynski by now -- you can count on
     him for a decent .280-ish average and not much else. Well, with 16 homers in the first half, he's
     outperformed stars like Carlos Santana, Brian McCann, Joe Mauer, and even Mike Napoli. Got to
     like that for a guy you probably drafted as a second catcher or claimed off the waiver wire.

1B Edwin Encarnacion, E-Z Sliders Before this year, fantasy writers had spent entire careers predicting
     Encarnacion's breakout, and then apologizing for him in the fall. This is the first year that I decided to
     go against these experts' advice -- even though I am one at heart. Well, the E-Z Sliders were smarter than
     that and have been enjoying his 22 homers, near-.300 average and the nine steals he's thrown in just for

2B Jason Kipnis, Inch’on Wyverns This is my team, and Kipnis has been one of the few bright spots.
     Actually, he's been the only one. But he's been pretty awesome, adding power (11 homers), and great
     speed (20 steals) without hurting the average. I'm not ready to say he's the next Robbie Alomar, but I'm
     guessing he's one of next year's top second sackers.

SS Trevor Plouffe, Spirit of St. Louis Trevor who? Yeah, Plouffe wasn't exactly pegged as a breakout
     star before the year began, but he has absolutely ripped the ball while playing all over the infield for Spirit
     of St. Louis. Most of his value has come from his 19 homers, but what else could you ask for from your
     shortstop, especially in a year when the elite options haven't been. This was an easy call, even though
     Plouffe has great (fantasy) teammates.

3B Miguel Cabrera, Left is Right Cabrera might be the least surprising name on this list. Already a top
     first baseman, he shifted to third to make room for Prince Fielder. All he's done is hit 18 homers with a
     .324 average and 71 RBIs. Who cares about defense with numbers like those? (Answer: anyone who owns
     a Tigers pitcher.)

OF Adam Jones, The Playmakers Jones has tantalized O's fans and fantasy owners for a few years
     now, he's even made a real All-Star team, but this year he's different and the Playmakers are reaping the
     benefits: 20 homers, a .293 average, and 11 steals -- he's become a real five-category player. That's what
     separates him from Jose Bautista and David Ortiz on his own team.

DH Billy Butler, Busey’s Bandits Butler, quietly as ever, is putting up great numbers for Busey's Bandits
     and playing DH for his real team. With 16 homers, an average near .300, and 52 RBIs, Butler gives power
     at the DH discount. All that, and he's eligible at first base, thanks to interleague play.

SP Gio Gonzalez, King Fish 2….0 I'm pretty sure that even the King Fish wouldn't have expected
     Gonzalez to be their All-Star representative, not with Albert Pujols and Cliff Lee on the team. Gonzalez
     has been fantastic, though: he's won 12 games and struck out 118 batters in 101 2/3 innings, while putting
     up stellar rate stats. It's performances like that that have kept the King Fish afloat despite what they've
     gotten from Pujols and Lee.

SP R.A. Dickey, McRuder If Gonzalez is unexpected, there might not be a word for Dickey's place on this
     team, let alone the NL All-Star team. It's deserved, even though McRuder has Stephen Strasburg and
     Matt Cain. Dickey's knuckler has whiffed 123 batters in 120 innings, posted a 2.40
     ERA, and an 0.98 WHIP. Oh, and he's won 12 games too. Not bad for a waiver wire pitcher that nearly
     every Major League team gave up on.

RP Craig Kimbrel, The Great Badbonis Who else was this going to be, really? Kimbrel is the new star
     of relief pitchers (for the moment, at least), and it's easy to see why: 24 saves, 54 K's in 32 innings, a 1.41
     ERA, and an 0.72 WHIP. He's the best closer in baseball, and one of the few early-pick relievers who've
     delivered anything on the investment.

Well, like ever year, it's been a mix of expectations fulfilled -- and dashed. Surprise players, good and bad, have been winning and losing leagues all year long. There's plenty of year left and plenty of baseball still to play. For now, though, it's time to enjoy a game that can't torpedo you in the standings and offer a few trades around the league.

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