Don’t Ignore The Over-35 Year Old Players In Your Fantasy Draft
As a card holding member of AARP, you start paying attention to those in other professions that are still doing well at an “older” age. One may notice that many of the posts on different sites like to focus on profiles and lists of the young prospects that could play a big role for a fantasy team. However, let us not forget about the experienced MLB player that can still provide value for fantasy owners this season. We will take a look at some names of players that are 35 years or older that fit this description. Most players break into the league before their 25th birthday and peak in their late 20s/early 30s, so sticking around past the age of 35 and continuing to produce at a high level is significant. So while many focus on the younger player or prospect, you can grab that veteran in a later round or a bargain price that can provide impact for your team. Player ages are as of Opening Day, March 29, 2018.
Edwin Encarnacion, 1B, Cleveland Indians
Indians designated hitter and first baseman Edwin Encarnacion finished the 2017 regular season with a .258 average, 38 home runs, 107 RBIs, 96 runs scored and two stolen bases. It marked his third straight season with at least 30 homers and 100 RBIs. Anything close to those numbers in 2018 would be great for fantasy owners.
Nelson Cruz, DH, Seattle Mariners
Last season, Cruz was the Mariners’ designated hitter for 147 games. He hit .288 with 39 homers and led the American League with 119 RBIs. He was an All-Star, won his second Silver Slugger and won the Edgar Martinez Award as the league’s top DH. He recently has hinted on social media that he might play some first base this year. Cruz hit more home runs than anybody in MLB over the past four years, but he’s also quite willing and capable of just driving the ball hard the other way if that’s the way he’s being pitched, and he’s raised his batting average and on-base percentage considerably even as he’s gotten older.
Justin Verlander, SP, Houston Astros
Per ZiPS projections, in his age-35 season, Verlander is projected to post a 3.43 ERA, 3.44 FIP and 26.3% strikeout rate in 181 innings. Verlander was excellent for the Astros in the postseason, allowing nine runs over 36 2/3 postseason innings for a 2.21 ERA. He walked eight, struck out 38, and compiled a 0.82 WHIP. Batters hit .177 against him. Verlander’s ALCS performance, in which he allowed one run over 16 innings (0.56 ERA), two walks and 21 strikeouts, earned him MVP honors for that series. He also married Kate Upton in the offseason.
Robinson Cano, 2b, Seattle Mariners
Cano finished the 2017 regular season with a .280 average, 23 home runs, 97 RBIs, 79 runs scored and one stolen base. Among American Leaguers, the veteran ranked 12th in RBIs. Not quite as good as his 2016 season, but still productive. The drop in numbers for can likely be attributed to lower leg injuries that plagued him 2017. For 2018, Sodo Mojo’s Robinson Cano Projection has him with 637 PA, 170 Hits, 35 Doubles, 1 Triple, 24 HR, 46 BB, 92 RBI, and a .288/.339/.472 slash line.
Adrian Beltre, 3B, Texas Rangers
Calf and hamstring injuries limited the 38-year-old Beltre to 94 games, the fewest for a full season in his career. He finished the 2017 regular season with a .312 average, 17 home runs, 71 RBIs, 47 runs scored and one stolen base. Many feel that to protect Beltre’s troublesome legs and keep his bat in the lineup, the Rangers would like to use him more often at designated hitter. This could keep in the lineup more and allow him to exceed last years stats in 2018.
Rich Hill, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers
The 38-year-old pitcher is staying active during the offseason, as he works out four days per week, and it is a schedule that Hill is easily able to adapt to his every-fifth-day pitching schedule during the regular season. The workouts focus on maintaining Hill’s athleticism and balancing out the one-sidedness that results from being a big league pitcher. This should at least allow Hill to match his 2017 numbers when he had a 12-8 record, a 3.32 ERA, a 1.09 WHIP and 166 strikeouts across 135 2/3 innings.
Shin-Soo Choo, OF, Texas Rangers
Choo bounced back from an injury-plagued 2016 and matched a career high with 22 home runs. He ranked second on the Rangers in runs scored and fourth in both homers and RBIs. The challenge might be to find playing time for him if the Rangers decide to use Beltre more at DH. Someone will find a way to get at-bats for a player who had an on-base percentage of more than .350 for the third consecutive season.
Ian Kinsler, 2B, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
In December, the Tiger traded Kinsler to the Angels. He had a bit of a down season in 2017 when he hit .236 with 22 home runs, 52 RBIs, and 14 stolen bases. Over his 12-year career, he has been a consistent player both offensively and defensively, hitting .273 with 234 home runs and 225 stolen bases. He is a four-time All-Star. The change of scenery may do him good and he still remains as a solid MLB second baseman.
Yadier Molina, C, St. Louis Cardinals
At age 35, Molina remains one of the game’s top catchers. Molina finished the 2017 regular season with a .273 average, 18 home runs, 82 RBIs, 60 runs scored and nine stolen bases. Molina’s numbers have started to slip the last few seasons, but one has to wonder if the recent comments by rival Cubs catcher Willson Contreras will provide him with that little extra motivation in 2018.
Ervin Santana, SP, Minnesota Twins
Over the past three years, Santana has thrown 7 complete games, tied for 5th among all pitchers in the game. He’s thrown 4 shutouts, which is tied for 3rd among all starting pitchers in the game. Over the last five seasons, Santana has the 27th ranked ERA among all starters who have made 100 starts. He may be one of the most unheralded starting pitchers in MLB.
CC Sabathia, SP, New York Yankees
During the offseason, Sabathia has ditched all animal products and has gone vegan in an attempt to improve his recovery time and performance. His workouts are focused on building the strength that will keep his body healthy throughout 2018. Sabathia tied for the team lead in wins and posted the second-lowest ERA of any pitcher who made more than one start with the club in 2017. He should be a solid contributor for fantasy owners in 2018.
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, New York Mets
In his prime, Gonzalez was one of the best-lefthanded hitters in MLB. In 2016, he hit .285 with 18 home runs and 90 RBIs, and that was a down power year for him. In 2017, he hit .242 with three homers and 30 RBIs and lost his job to Cody Bellinger. If his offseason workouts and conditioning help with his back issues, it is not unreasonable to think that he could put up numbers somewhere in the middle of his 2016 and 2017 stat lines.