In recent years, I have made a special effort to limit the number of older players I draft in my fantasy leagues. Yeah, these grizzled veterans might carry solid track records, but with an aged player the injury risk tends to be higher, while the chances of handing owners a profit tends to be lower than a talented 25-year-old who is just entering his prime. But, something strange is happening this season. So many of these elder statesmen, players who were avoided by many owners in drafts this spring, are far exceeding expectations. Let's go around the diamond and take a look at some of these guys. Note that ages along with draft day prices in Mixed Auction Tout Wars are included in parenthesis. Also note the number 35.5, the average age of this roster.
C A.J. Pierzynski (38, $0 FAAB pickup) - After opening the season as Christian Bethancourt's backup, Pierzynski is now Atlanta's unquestioned starting catcher, sporting a .263 batting average with four homers and 24 RBI through 48 games. Considering that he wasn't even drafted in many NL-only leagues, A.J. is more than deserving of a spot on this team.
1B Mark Teixeira (35, $2) - I wanted no part of Tex this year, and apparently I wasn't in the minority. But 68 games, 18 home runs and 51 RBI later, I'm not looking too good. But, the same can be said about the 13 other Mixed Auction Tout Wars owners who opted not to bid $3 for the revitalized Yankees first baseman, so I don't feel too bad.
2B Brandon Phillips (34, $1) - Happy 34th birthday, Brandon! No, I'm not making this up. Today really is his birthday. Anyway, Phillips, a former early-round fantasy selection due to his ability to contribute in both the power and speed departments, suffered through an injury-plagued and flat-out dismal 2014 campaign. 2015 has been a different story, and perhaps the most surprising stat is his 11 steals, this after swiping a combined seven bags from 2013-2014. However, the four homers and 28 RBI through 64 games are nothing to get excited about. Still, owners who drafted Phillips as a late-round flier or $1 endgame purchase can't complain.
SS Yunel Escobar (32, $1 FAAB pickup) - I almost went with Jhonny Peralta here. But unlike Peralta, Escobar wasn't even on the mixed league radar heading into this season, yet he's playing every day and batting .322 through 67 games. That said, the last time Escobar posted a batting average above .258 was back in 2011, so I'm not confident that he will maintain a whole lot of mixed league value going forward.
3B Alex Rodriguez (39, $4) - By far the easiest choice. No one had any clue what to expect from A-Rod coming off a full season away from the game. Well, we're almost at the halfway mark of the 2015 campaign and he's on pace for 32 homers and 95 RBI. A-Rod could very well turn out to be the highest profit fantasy pick of the season, and serving as a full-time DH reduces the risk of an injury.
OF Curtis Granderson (34, $3) - Granderson's sophomore season in Queens started out slowly, as he batted .231 with only one home run in April. Since the beginning of May, however, he's launched a combined 11 home runs, and his .281 batting average in June has raised his season average to at least a respectable .250. Although his final 2015 stat line might look a lot like the 2014 version, aside from perhaps a higher average, the fact that his draft day price was much cheaper this time around makes all the difference. Relative to the cost, Granderson owners should end up being satisfied.
OF Nori Aoki (33, $1) - Aoki's fine 2015 season has been halted by a trip to the DL, and as of now, his return timetable is unclear. But, that doesn't take away from the .317 batting average and 12 steals over his first 67 games. Especially in Tout, where OBP is used instead of AVG, Aoki (.383 OBP) has been well worth the $1 gamble.
OF Torii Hunter (39, $1) - We're still waiting for the aging Hunter to lose fantasy relevance, but at this point, it's looking like that will not happen anytime soon. Torii is well on his way towards posting his seventh straight 80-plus RBI campaign, and already with ten homers through 66 games, he's on pace to finish the season with his highest home run total since 2011.
Now all we need is for 42-year-old LaTroy Hawkins to regain the Rockies closer job.