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Finding Fantasy Value in Free Agency: Old Players


Whether it’s in the draft or in free agency, fantasy baseball players everywhere want one thing: Production.

More specifically, if they’ve gone a bit star heavy at the top and are having issues rounding their fantasy teams out, they’re looking for some guys with good fantasy value.

If you find yourself in a spot like that, don’t be afraid to look for some familiar names that are consistently undervalued: Old Guys.

Fantasy baseball players are incredibly dedicated people but in a lot of ways, they’re incredibly predictable. Nowhere are they more predictable than here. Every player is in such a hurry to find a young phenom like Mike Trout or Yasiel Puig, or to find a breakout guy like Chris Davis, that guys who have been around for more than a few years get ignored.

Case in point: At the time of writing this, Chris Carter is owned in more than 42 percent of ESPN leagues. Adam Dunn is owned in just under 14 percent. Dunn’s a flawed player, sure. But Carter struggles just as much in the exact same stats as Dunn, and isn’t really any better in their strong suits. There’s no reason that their ownership disparity should be anywhere near that high. The only real difference to speak of is that Dunn’s 34, while Carter’s 27. If they were base stealers, I’d hear that argument. But for pure mashers, the age difference is largely irrelevant.

You want another example? Sure. I went over this in the Blind Stats Comparisons, but now that the drafts are largely over, I can add another wrinkle to it.

2012-2013 Stats: Alfonso Soriano/Jay Bruce

Player
AB
R
HR
RBI
SB
AVG
Alfonso Soriano11421526620924.258
Jay Bruce11861786420816.257

Eliminating their ages, could someone out there really explain to me why Jay Bruce was taken on average nearly 100 spots higher than Alfonso Soriano in 2014 drafts?

Their age may account for a few spots, but 100? Come on, now.

But it really does go to show that if you’re willing to take a chance on overlooking the possibility of finding a Mike Trout or Chris Davis, you can get some value with the old guys.

It probably does have to be an older guy like a Dunn or Soriano. Guys who even had their primes, had some fairly apparent criticisms, but generally managed to produce good numbers. Guys like that were never really in favor with the advanced stats guys (who believe me, play fantasy baseball) so when they get older, those stats guys are even more likely to dismiss anything good they do and highlight the negatives.

It makes sense to a degree, but they get in to trouble by overvaluing much younger players who produce much younger stats. Also, when a player consistently breaks trends and produces at least some big numbers that the advanced stats would suggest they shouldn’t, it means that they’re finding away to break those trends. No matter people tell you, there are always players who people will look at and say, “How are they producing?”. There’s always been guys like that, and there always will be.

Now, I’m not suggesting that you ignore young players. I have Avisail Garcia and Khris Davis on my teams, so I’d not only be stupid to suggest ignoring young players, but also hypocritical.

But I will say that for as long as I’ve been playing fantasy baseball, there have always been younger guys who receive a lot of hype that just don’t seem to measure up. For every Mike Trout, there about five Jesus Montero‘s.

Meanwhile, older players tend to slide in drafts and even remain in free agency into the season, even if they’re still producing. Sometimes, you have to just ignore the age and maybe even some of the peripherals and go with the guys who are producing the numbers that your league counts, even if it makes no sense.

Now, you don’t need to be loyal to them. If they go a few weeks without doing anything of note, cut them loose, it probably is a sign that they’re cooked. But until that happens, don’t let any productive player’s age keep them off of your roster.

Tags: Fantasy Value Free Agency MLB Value Veteran Players