B(old) and the Beautiful

Duane Burleson

Giving some fantasy love to players over 30.

Right now, I'm 35-years-old. I'm married and have two kids (#3 on the way). I've completed three degrees up to this point, have a house, and am currently on my second career. In reality I'm in the prime of my life, but thank goodness no one is drafting me in a dynasty league-if so, I'd barely be usable, just a throw-in for trading, and laughably on the downhill slide of my career, useful for maybe one or two more years (maybe three if I were a RP).

Prospects-the shiny, young toys-are all the rage these days. In one of the leagues I play in they are unabashedly overrated, overpriced, and often times underwhelm. Yet, fantasy owners just can't help themselves. Given a Torii Hunter, someone would much rather have a shiny new Adam Eaton, for instance.

However, after playing bridesmaid the last couple of years in one of my deep leagues, I decided enough was enough. I was going for it all. So, I cashed in some prospects (of the elite kind, e.g., Archie Bradley, Oscar Taveras, etc.) and filled in the gaps with some great vets, essentially remaking my SP staff for the playoff run. This year it finally paid off and it got me thinking that maybe having vets in my dynasty league wasn't such a bad thing.

Let's take a look at the numbers to see:

I took all MLB hitters from ages 32-39 (31 players) and from ages 21-26 (37 players) who are active right now and just ran some basic averages. Here you can see the results:

Age PA HR R RBI SB BB% K% BABIP AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+
34 593 19 72 72 8 8.5 17.0 0.302 0.273 0.338 0.439 0.339 113
25 613 17 71 68 13 8.2 18.6 0.307 0.267 0.331 0.426 0.331 109

I was not surprised when I ran these numbers. It's pretty clear that the old guys have the slight edge across the board except for speed. The point is not that the "Old Guys" are more valuable, but that they can at least provide the same (if not better) returns on investment for your team this coming season. Just because a guy turns 30 it's not automatically time to cut bait and invest in youngsters.

Just for fun, let's play a little game. I'm going to line up stats for a great young player, and then I'm going to give you the stats for an aging vet. Considering what you're going to have to pay for the first guy, if you are in a redraft league you should definitely consider the vet (better return on investment). If you are in a dynasty league there is value in having young, stud players but if your roster is chalk full of them it might be wise to stash a few predictable vets on your roster (esp. in a H2H format whereby youth can sometimes be streaky):

Player HR R RBI SB BB% K% BABIP AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+
Player A 21 97 84 27 11.6 15.0 0.353 0.317 0.404 0.508 0.393 155
Player B 25 84 82 10 11.3 19.0 0.358 0.318 0.398 0.532 0.403 160

I'm not saying that Player B = Player A. However, if I told you that player B was none other than 34-year old Jayson Werth, would you be impressed? Especially if Player A was the NL MVP Andrew McCutchen! Uh, yeah, I was too. To think that he hung in pretty well with McCutch says something. Of course, no one saw that coming but it serves to show that old guys can still get it done.

Here's another:

Player HR R RBI SB BB% K% BABIP AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+
Player A 17 86 84 30 11.6 21.7 0.345 0.284 0.366 0.452 0.357 130
Player B 18 73 69 8 8.5 14.9 0.305 0.284 0.348 0.475 0.356 126

Can you guess? We're talking two guys at the opposite ends of their careers. Player A is the up-and-coming stud keystone in the AL, while the other 2b is getting it done basically on one leg. When considering all the numbers, give me a shot with Player B's return on investment (Chase Utley) rather than the king's ransom I'm going to have to pay to acquire Player A (Jason Kipnis).

Finally:

Player HR R RBI SB BB% K% BABIP AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+
Player A 30 89 109 7 9.0 26.5 0.322 0.262 0.329 0.478 0.344 117
Player B 17 90 84 3 4.0 17.3 0.344 0.304 0.334 0.465 0.346 117

Obviously these two have different profiles, Player A being more of a power hitter and Player B being more of a contact guy. However, when all is said and done Player B is creating similar overall offensive value for his team (and possible for yours as well). Player A = Jay Bruce (fantasy darling at 26), and Player B = Torii Hunter (he who is 37 right now). Wow.

So fellow deep leaguers, dynasty players, and fantasy managers, stop shrugging off the over-30 trade offers. Just like the old Transformers who seem to be making a comeback these days, there is always more than meets the eye with the old guys.

In my next post I'll take a look at some pitchers to see if the trend holds (I bet it does).

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