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Old and Boring Bargains

While we rightfully are looking for players on their upward arc, often in that quest we leave behind veteran players that can prove valuable in the short term. The old-and-boring veterans that slide in drafts aren't going to have career years more often than not, but they will provide a pretty stable floor of production that their younger counterparts will more often miss. When you draft these types of veterans, frequently you're getting more consistent playing time and buying the confidence of the manager when that player goes through an early slump. These players are less likely to get benched, let alone demoted to the minors, as the Royals did to Alex Gordon last year (and the year before that). We all have our favorite breakout players, and you shouldn't avoid going after those players, you might want to balance your roster with a few stable veterans to temper the risk factor.

We all have our favorite young players I've done 11 drafts of various stripes with two more leagues yet to draft, and in those drafts there's a handful of players that have consistently dropped, well below their default draft position or projected auction value. Here are five that might provide some value on the draft table.

Michael Young - One consistent aspect about these players is that they are frequently overpaid in real life. Young's contract is an albatross that the Rangers so desperately wish to rid themselves of, but that doesn't matter to us in fantasy baseball. Young also got moved off of third base this year in small part because his range at the position was so poor. He'll still qualify at third base this year in most fantasy leagues, however. He is a pretty reliable bet to hit for average, he should hit close to 20 homers, and he'll score close to 100 runs. Yet he's frequently dropped out of the top 100 picks in many of my drafts.

Vernon Wells - Speaking of albatross contracts, so much of the discussion surrounding Wells' trade to the Angels centered on his contract. But any sort of discussion about his contract in the fantasy realm is misplaced. Wells will probably hit for less power in Anaheim than he did in Toronto, but that could get balanced by the Angels' tendency to steal more bases, giving him more of a green light.

Michael Cuddyer - Cuddyer's power production has fluctuated wildly over the years, and last year was a season where he dropped from 31 homers to 14. Some of that drop in power can be attributed to the Twins' move to Target Field, but it's worth noting that his production dropped on the road last year, too. We should be careful not to assume that last year's park effects will necessarily be the same this year for Target Field. The prevailing wisdom with park effects is that we need three years of data before we have a firmly established baseline. A return to 30+ homers for Cuddyer is unlikely, but it wouldn't be a surprise if he got back to 20. He also qualifies at first base and outfield this year, and in some leagues at third base (14 games last year) and even second base (one game last year).

Raul Ibanez - Ibanez is the oldest player (38) on this list and probably the riskiest, but consider that he has long beaten the odds and public perception of him as a hitter. He was a late bloomer, not getting a full-time job with the Royals until he was 30. Twice now he has signed multi-year contracts as a free agent that many believed were mistakes. The Mariners ended up doing well with their contract with him, and the Phillies have had a mixed bag, getting a superb 2009 followed by a mediocre 2010 season. With Chase Utley beginning the year on the DL, Ibanez might get to hit third on occasion, in front of Ryan Howard.

Bobby Abreu - Even in a down year last year, Abreu managed to pull off a 20-20 season with the Angels. Prior to last year, however, Abreu has been remarkably consistent in hitting for average, providing 20 homers, 20 steals and close to 100 runs and RBI. He'll spend most of this season as the Angels' DH, which might keep him healthier. He'll also benefit from an injury, batting third while Kendrys Morales is on the DL.

Take a look at your cheatsheets to find more examples of these discounted veterans - there are plenty of value picks to be had. You don't want to build a full portfolio of these hitters, but the world needs ditchdiggers, too. Don't be afraid to roster a handful of these types of players in the mid-to-late rounds.

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