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Fantasy Baseball Today

Midseason category help: RBI

By Al Melchior | Data Analyst

Just because Austin Jackson is hitting leadoff again doesn't mean he can't improve his RBI pace. (USATSI)
Just because Austin Jackson is hitting leadoff again doesn't mean he can't improve his RBI pace. (USATSI)

In sizing up your roster for your run at a championship, run production is one of the more difficult things to get a handle on. How many runs a player scores or drives in is dependent not only on his ability to hit, but on the performance of his teammates and where the manager puts him in the batting order.

Rather than try to predict those factors that are out of a hitter's control, I'll identify some RBI sources to pursue with a little help from the batting average with runners in scoring position (Avg with RISP) rankings. Some players are likely to be more clutch than others, but when someone is hitting for a much lower average when runners are in scoring position than in other at-bats, there's usually a correction on the way.

If you're lagging in RBI, below are five hitters worth pursuing, as each should get on an RBI pace over the remainder of the season that far outstrips what they have done so far.

And in the coming days and weeks, I'll be looking for players to help you in other standard Rotisserie categories as well. But for now, here are a few potential RBI producers to start targeting.

Jason Kipnis (.244 Avg, .203 Avg with RISP): With 22 RBI in 58 games, Kipnis is far off last season's 84-RBI pace, but there's no reason why he couldn't get 40-plus RBI the rest of the way. He's due for a power surge and has actually been striking out at a lower rate than he did last season. And there's the whole Avg with RISP thing.

Matt Adams (.318 Avg, .227 Avg with RISP): His overall batting average looks primed to fall at least a little, but he's practically assured of hitting better with runners in scoring position. We've also already seen Adams pick up his power game in June, and that allowed him to drive in 16 runs that month, just short of half his season total of 33. The correction is already in progress.

Mike Napoli (.277 Avg, .188 Avg with RISP): The Red Sox may not have the offense they did a year ago, but Napoli's fluky Avg with RISP is masking the fact that he is posting the highest contact rate of his career. Over the rest of the season, he should well exceed the 32 RBI he has accumulated so far.

Austin Jackson (.247 Avg, .169 Avg with RISP): Typically hitting between fifth and seventh in the Tigers' order, Jackson should have been a much better RBI source so far, but instead, he's roughly on the same pace he was a year ago when he was the team's primary leadoff hitter. Though he has been moved back to the top of the order, Jackson should still be able to pick up his RBI pace. In addition to what appears to be poor luck in RISP situations, Jackson apparently has had some misfortune on balls in play (.538 line drive BABIP). He's also taken a step backward in terms of power production, but Jackson has shown himself to be capable of a higher home-run pace. Tigers manager Brad Ausmus told MLive.com he put Jackson in the leadoff spot "to get him going," but who's to say that Jackson will remain there? All of these factors make Jackson an RBI rebound candidate, especially if he does move back down in the order at some point.

Ben Zobrist (.250 Avg, .094 Avg with RISP): I've been pretty bearish on Zobrist this season, as he just isn't producing power and steals like he used to. However, he should have far more than 18 RBI so far, and his sub-.100 Avg with RISP is hard to ignore. He is a career .259 hitter with RISP -- just three points below his career Avg -- so it's not as if Zobrist is a proven un-clutch hitter. Particularly in points leagues, where Zobrist's strong plate discipline is still rewarded, he is a worthy target, given the likely surge in RBI to come.

 
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