RBI is one of the trickier categories to chase. They are dependent not only on the skills of the batter but also on the abilities of the players in front of him to get on base. Ideally, the best RBI targets are middle-of-the-order bats who play on good teams, as those offenses score more runs and provide more opportunities to drive in runs.
For this article, we’re looking at cheap sources of RBI. These are players you can target late in drafts who can drive in a steady amount of runs. All of these players are being drafted after pick 300, based on NFBC ADP since January 1. If you’re looking for a late RBI boost, these players can help you out!
Cheap RBI Targets
Rowdy Tellez (1B – MIL)
Sometimes all players need is a change of scenery to get them going; that certainly was the case for Rowdy Tellez last season. He struggled offensively in Toronto, but turned things around after his trade to Milwaukee:
- Toronto: .209/.272/.338 .129 ISO .266 wOBA 62 wRC+ 151 PA
- Milwaukee: .272/.333/.481 .209 ISO .341 wOBA 112 wRC+ 174 PA
In 2020, Tellez improved both his quality of contact and plate discipline metrics. I usually avoid putting much stock into stats from the shortened season, but these improvements stuck and carried over to 2021.
Tellez finished last season with an 11.6% barrel rate, a 94th percentile max exit velocity, and a 48.1% hard-hit rate – a rate he’s improved each year since 2018. He also posted an above-average contact rate (78.7%), zone contact rate (88.7%), and swinging-strike rate (10.2%). The universal DH should give Tellez more at-bats and plenty of opportunities to drive in runs. He’s a great target for cheap run production and power.
Tyler Naquin (OF – CIN)
Tyler Naquin had a solid first season with the Cincinnati Reds. In 454 plate appearances, he finished with a 19/52/70/5/.270 stat line and an .810 OPS. But it was Naquin’s second half of the season that was most impressive. He slashed .314/.370/.535 with a .384 wOBA and 136 wRC+ before a rib injury ended his season in September.
Naquin should continue to hit in the middle of the order behind Jonathan India, Jesse Winker, and Joey Votto – all hitters who have a knack for getting on base. In fact, all three finished with a top-10 on-base percentage in 2021, giving Naquin a prime opportunity to rack up some RBI.
Naquin mashed righties (.283 BA) but struggled against lefties (.197 BA) last season, which could cost him some playing time. But projection systems peg him for around 475-525 plate appearances, which is more than enough at-bats for him to be a plus RBI contributor at his draft price.
Randal Grichuk (OF – TOR)
Randal Grichuk can be a streaky hitter, but he still manages to produce solid power and run production totals. In each of the last two full seasons, he logged at least 545 plate appearances, 20 home runs, and 80 RBI despite finishing both seasons with a poor wOBA and wRC+:
- 2019: 31/75/80/2/.232 628 PA .307 wOBA 90 wRC+
- 2021: 22/59/81/0/.241 545 PA .300 wOBA 85 wRC+
The Blue Jays are no strangers to producing runs (they scored the third-most last season), and Grichuk should be their middle-of-the-order bat. The lineup will be without Marcus Semien, but it’s still potent enough that Grichuk should be able to take advantage.
Grichuk steadily lowered his strikeout rate each season since 2017, leading to a career-best 20.9% in 2021. He also improved his contact rates for the past three seasons and posted a career-best 90.5% zone contact rate last year. Grichuk still chases too many pitches outside of the zone, but he’s well worth a shot in drafts if you’re in need of a late-round RBI boost.
Seth Brown (OF – OAK)
Digging deeper, Seth Brown is an RBI target who could be a diamond in the rough. Brown is a big power bat who clubbed 20 home runs in just 307 plate appearances in 2021. However, that power production also came with an ugly .214 batting average, 29% strikeout rate, and below-average contact rates.
Playing time shouldn’t be an issue for Brown, although he could lose some at-bats against lefties (.136 BA in 2021). He’s currently penciled in as Oakland’s DH and is expected to hit out of the five-hole. Keep in mind that Oakland’s lineup will get worse if either Matt Olson and/or Matt Chapman is traded. However, Brown’s playing time and power upside are too juicy to pass up – especially for a player going after pick 450.