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.


By: daddymag
On: 3/30/2011 4:30:00 AM
I drafted Alfonso Soriano. At NO point in mock drafting did I EVER think of taking Soriano. But the league I'm in has deep rosters, and by the time you get to filling all your UTIL spots, he's actually the best hitter on the board... so fire away. Other late rounders, Chipper Jones as my backup 3B, and Tejada as my backup IF.
As long as these guys hit .250, it's profit all the way.
By: elsicilian
On: 3/30/2011 7:33:00 AM
I have grabbed Manny and Chipper in most of my leagues ... they're cheap, and I believe that if they play, they will be productive. If they become injured (Chipper) or uninterested (Manny) at any point, I can just dump them ... either way, problem solved!
By: Zenguerrilla
On: 3/30/2011 8:19:00 AM
I like Cuddy to rebound if he can stay healthy....Johnny Gomes is the guy to have!!!! Take it to the bank!
By: ScoresheetOwner
On: 3/30/2011 8:57:00 AM
I really like Chipper in this context. The one thing you don't want is a guy who plays full time for you but does it badly. And that has never been Chipper's problem - when he does play he is almost always putting up good (great?) stats. And as said above, if he gets hurt you just drop him. After all, your investment (a late round pick, or just a couple of dollars) is negligible.
By: nayfel
On: 3/30/2011 11:01:00 AM
At a recent auction, Soriano was out there for $7. Now, J Smoak was the player thrown at directly before Soriano and he went for $9. This is a mixed 5 by 5 league, 14 teams, 16 hitters and 10 pitchers, 4 player bench.
Looking at 260-25-80 type of year last year and obviously a tremendous amount of upside, i bid $8 and got him. My partner stared at me in disbelief because I wouldn't let him go $8 on Smoak. I reasoned that if Smoak went .260-20-70, then we would all be thrilled and say he broke out and was worth the $8. But, Soriano did that last year and for many years and his bottom is still considerably higher than a Smoak type.

You guys think i'm nuts?
By: nayfel
On: 3/30/2011 11:02:00 AM
Sorry, forgot to include the budget. it was 26 total players, $315 to spend. Max player was Pujols for $47. Halladay $31.
By: Chris Liss
On: 3/30/2011 11:05:00 AM
I think Soriano will do that and steal 10 bags.
By: elsicilian
On: 3/30/2011 11:05:00 AM
"The one thing you don't want is a guy who plays full time for you but does it badly" ... well said, ScoresheetOwner (and my thoughts exactly, only articulated better).
By: bogfella
On: 3/30/2011 11:20:00 AM
Oh, if Manny could just be the good Manny for another full season ...
By: Jacobdk
On: 3/30/2011 11:50:00 AM
The problem with Chipper is the multitude of day-to-day injuries that don't land him on the DL. If you have daily transactions then fine, but for most leagues he's a real burden. Obviously his upside is very high, so if he's healthy he's well worth it. But I would argue that his floor is actually worse than most players.
By: Erickson
On: 3/30/2011 12:55:00 PM
Jacobdk - Absolutely true, and it's an even more important consideration when you have a very limited bench. Take, for example, Yahoo Friends & Family, where you have just three bench spots and two DL spots. A guy like Chipper becomes more of a burden there.
By: daddymag
On: 3/30/2011 4:11:00 PM
Yes you need bench. I wouldn't be carrying Chipper if I didn't have extra room for him. The point is, when you have room, guys with no buzz come cheap. As nayfel pointed out, Soriano went .260-25-80 last season. I was shocked to see those numbers. All I ever hear is people dogging Soriano for what he ISN'T. I've been ignoring Soriano for years now LOL!
By: daddymag
On: 3/30/2011 4:13:00 PM
I mean, no those numbers aren't a big deal, but as your extra UTIL guy? Bring it on! If Manny does that for TB this season TB will likely consider it a success. The way people talk about Soriano, you'd think he's an absolute disgrace.
By: Erickson
On: 3/30/2011 9:32:00 PM
Yeah, agree with you on Soriano - except for leagues that Liss is in!

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