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Saturday 16th Dec 2017

I generally try to avoid drafting too many older players. They tend to be greater injury risks, and their most productive seasons are surely behind them. This strategy usually pays off. But something strange is happening this year. An abnormally high number of these grizzled vets are exceeding expectations. In fact, there are so many of them that I wanted to see if I could assemble a complete team. Somewhat surprisingly, it wasn’t difficult. Note that all of these guys are at least 34 years of age and, with the exception of one, all have made at least one trip to the Midsummer Classic, some much more recently than others.

A.J. Pierzynski

I’ve always considered Pierzynski a very underrated fantasy asset. Yeah, that 27-home run 2012 campaign can safely be called a fluke, but despite his advanced age, the 37-year-old backstop continues to be extremely durable and an above-average power source at the position. Heading into Saturday’s games, he’s on pace to finish the season with a .278-14-74 line. I’ll gladly take that from my No. 2 mixed league catcher.

1B  Albert Pujols

As the 2014 season drew near, the fantasy community was bitterly divided when it came to Pujols’ prospects, but I’d have to say that the majority opinion was negative. And really, who could blame the skeptics? But how much of Albert’s 2013 struggles could be blamed on injury woes as opposed to decline was the big question, and so far, the answer is clearly looking like the former. Through 34 games, Pujols’ ten home runs trail only Jose Abreu’s 13 among first basemen and his .925 OPS represents a 158-point increase from last year’s .767 mark.

2B  Chase Utley

I’ll admit it, Utley was on my “do not draft” list. Maybe I should not have been so close-minded, as the Phillies second baseman did post a solid .284-18-69 line last year with eight swipes in 131 games. But those 131 games were the most he played in a season since 2009, so I said “Thanks, but no thanks” and that was the end of it. Through 31 games, Chase is on pace for 14 homers, 76 RBI and 95 runs scored. Oh, and he’s batting .336. Maybe I should not have been so close-minded.

SS  Jimmy Rollins

J-Roll has been a longtime favorite of mine, and owning him on a number of teams during that 2007 MVP campaign pretty much assured that I would be fully indebted to him for the rest of my fantasy-playing career, which would undoubtedly last beyond Jimmy’s playing career. So in other words, I would be permanently indebted to him. Although Rollins isn’t exactly tearing it up in his age-35 season, he’s turning in a profit for his owners, many of whom were able to draft him as their MI. Too bad I opted to finally pass on him in Tout Wars this year. But fear not, I still own Rollins in three leagues. You see, some habits are just too hard to shake off.

3B  Juan Uribe

Uribe, the lone non-former All-Star among this group, is currently batting more than 50 points above his career average of .254 and is projected to finish the season with 18 homers and 74 RBI. Look, the .306 AVG is bound to plummet, but before you laugh off the idea that he could reach those home run and RBI plateaus, keep in mind that in his last fully healthy season, Uribe launched 24 homers while racking up 85 RBI. Just saying.

OF  Jayson Werth

While we’re on the health theme, we might as well talk about Werth, who played in a mere 210 games combined in 2012 and 2013. But even though his 35th birthday is fast approaching, Werth remains a very productive player when healthy, and he’s off to a fine start this season (.305-4-17-3). He’s a no doubt top-25 outfielder, when healthy.

OF  Torii Hunter

He might be old and boring, but through 29 games, Hunter is on pace for 20 homers, 101 RBI and his third straight .300-plus AVG campaign, and he’s averaged 148 games played over the past four seasons. I guess there’s nothing wrong with being old and boring.

OF  Marlon Byrd

One of the biggest fantasy surprises of 2013, the 36-year-old Byrd is picking up right where he left off. While matching last season’s 24 home runs seems like a long shot, he’s improved both his slugging percentage and his OPS, and his 23 RBI ranks in the top-10 among all outfielders.

SP  Mark Buehrle

In need of an extra starting pitcher, I added Buehrle to my Tout Wars squad in early-April, fully expecting to drop him at the first sign of regression, which was bound to come sooner rather than later. But, aside from a rough outing against the Red Sox (I thankfully benched him for that one), it’s been smooth sailing for the 35-year-old southpaw, so much so that there’s no way I can justify dropping him. Around this time last season in Tout, I picked up an aging former All-Star named Bartolo Colon, and that worked out pretty well. Maybe history can repeat itself. Probably not, but there’s nothing wrong with hoping.

RP  Joe Nathan

After getting off to a shaky start to the season, Nathan has settled down nicely, converting five straight save chances without allowing a single run. Of all the players on this imaginary team based on imaginary teams, Nathan is the least surprising member, as he’s been so good for so long. But those two early blown saves had many fantasy owners freaking out, wondering if this could be the end for the 39-year-old. Freak out no more.

I generally try to avoid drafting too many older players.

Maybe I’ll rethink this next year.

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