One of my longtime rules of fantasy baseball (and this one is shared by many) is to avoid older hitters.  David Ortiz?  Never drafted him (often and including this season to my detriment), Albert Pujols?  Nope.  Robinson Cano?  Again, my bad this season, but still I’m not drafting him.  Ben Zobrist?  Just can’t do it.  I know three out of the four guys I just mentioned are having great seasons thus far, but let’s see how they look in August, shall we?  We shall, since August is coming whether we want it to or not; how’s that for ominous?

Thing is I just don’t want to take the chance of injury or decline.  As I get older, and though I’m no athlete, it just takes longer to recover.  Recover from injuries, running or long walks even, the few weights I do lift, and mainly, hangovers.  I keep telling myself I’m one more bad hangover (which at this point is five or six beers and home by 11:00 PM and still takes two days to feel right again) from giving it up.

But good beer is so, so good.  Just not at the ballpark for $10 a 12 ounce.  As such when I go see my Cubs play the Cardinals in a couple weeks I’m bringing in a bottle of water, refilling it as often as I like in the many fountains, and eating hot dogs and nachos until my heart’s content.  You know who also makes my heart’s content?  Brandon Phillips.  (Well, no, he doesn’t but I didn’t have a good transition there and that one did the trick.  Or it didn’t.  You decide!) But he’s an old guy and you don’t own them; you just said this.  I know, but to be clear, I won’t draft these guys; nor will I trade for them.  What I will do is pick them up off of waivers/free agent wire and plug them into my lineup.

Old man Brandon Phillips, aged 34 (just checked his birth date, dang it I’m only a few months older than him), who in the pre-season I hoped was traded as I drafted Jose Peraza everywhere and subsequently dropped him everywhere after the first week, is hitting again.  He was good for so many seasons, even a 30/32 season in 2007, but the last few have been more meh, bottoming out in 2014 with an eight homer, two steal, .678 OPS campaign following that up with a 2015 where he attained 12/23 but a lack of extra base hits led to a poor .723 OPS.  This season has been a return to form in some ways.  Six homers, three steals and a sparkly .835 OPS with five of those HRs coming in the last two weeks.  I know you’ll say, well a lot of good telling me this now, but he’s still only 65% owned in Yahoo and 68% owned in ESPN; those numbers are too low to let him hang out there for too long.

Old man Mike Napoli, also 34, also younger than me, has been on fire the last two weeks with three home runs and a very, very nice .989 OPS.  He is striking out way too much at 35% and not walking at all a 7.3% clip, which are both not in line with his career averages of 26.7% K-rate and 12.3% walk rate.  Looks like those should fall back in line and he’s getting playing time on the Indians, so go get him if you need some 1B thump.  He’s owned in just 23% of Yahoo leagues and 15% of ESPN leagues (I assume now that Razzball Commenter Leagues are 15% of ESPN Leagues, which sounds about right as Razzball Commenter Leagues Rule!).

Last of the old men is Ryan Howard.  He’s 36, (Yes! He’s older than me) and he has eight home runs on the season with a poor OPS, but wait, over the last two weeks he has four of those HRs.  Play him at home versus a bad pitcher or on the road in Colorado or Milwaukee.  He’s a spot starter at best but can be effective if used in the right situations (that’s exactly what my Resume says.  Weird, right?  I don’t want to talk myself up too much.  Like the scene in Trainspotting (that I know Napoli, Howard and Phillips have all seen cause we’re in the same age group and all) when Spud has the job interview and Mark is giving him a little speed so he seems like he wants the job but not enough that they’ll actually give it to him)).  Only in deeper OPS leagues is he an option, but he can still be usable.

A younger man to touch on for OPS leagues is Cincinnati OF Adam Duvall.  An 11th round pick in 2010 by the Giants out of the University of Louisville, Duvall only qualifies at OF but can give Joey Votto the occasional day off at 1B and if Votto goes down it would appear the Reds would slide Duvall right in (not that Duvall does a lot of sliding, his next steal in the majors will be his first and his minor league season high is eight).

He’s gone in my OPS leagues but still only owned in 5% of Yahoo and 6% of ESPN leagues.  He’s hit four home runs with a .919 OPS over the past two weeks, is playing every day, and should be owned in all leagues that value power (which is most leagues).  Acquired by the Reds in the Mike Leake trade last season, he has minor league seasons of 30, 17, 27, and 26 Home Runs and an OPS above .800 in all those seasons except for one.  So far in the majors he’s averaging a home run every six games or one every 18 Plate Appearances, and golly do I love when something good appears on my plate.  Like fried chicken, or pizza, or, anything that tastes good really.  Those of who have read my past columns know I’m not picky.  Well, only when it comes to beer.

So Duvall is a power guy not an average guy, which probably explains his low ownership.  Or people don’t like the Reds; that could be it, or his name, or the cut of his jib, which would be strange; he looks normal enough(LINK) to me to trust him for fantasy purposes.

At the major league level since 2014 he’s played in 28, 27 and 29 games and his K% was 26%, 36.1% and this season is 30.7%.  That’s not good; his minor league K rates were consistently around 20%, so one would figure as he gets more playing time and used to major league pitchers that will lower.  He will never walk a lot with a BB% around 7-8% in the minors and below 6% in the majors.  OPS keeper leaguers are probably all over him but he’s worth trying to get if they are sleeping on him.

That’s all for me party people; on this fine Saturday I hope you get to do what you want to do, keep in keepin’ on, and ask any questions or throw some comments at me below.

  1. Pete says:
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    I’ve been eyeing Duvall for a couple weeks now. I’m in a league that does SLG and OBP instead of AVG (in addition to HRs and the standard categories). It’s the OBP that I’m worried about, but I am power starved in a deep league that starts 5 OF in addition to 2 UTIL. Should I give him a spin? I just grabbed Oswaldo Arcia (for like the 3rd time this season) and Cron because I thought their OBP numbers might be a little better.

    • Phil B.

      Phil B. says:
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      @Pete: I am not an Arcia fan cause like you referenced once I add him he stinks. Then I drop him and he hits. Wash rinse repeat. I like Duvall better now and rest of season since Buxton will come back at some point. Versus Cron it’s a toss up. Looks like he’s playing now and Obp he’s better. So I’d ditch arcia and roll with Duvall and Cron.

      • Pete says:
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        @Phil B.: Good idea. Thanks!

  2. Yes sir says:
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    Is bully burns a drop candidate in a 12 team 6×6 w/ OBP and slug% as categories (no batting average)….considering dropping him for *gulp* Melvin Upton Jr.

    26 man rosters w/ 4 OFers.

    • Yes sir says:
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      @Yes sir: …or cam maybin or Domingo Santana or Denard span or Leonys Martin…these are the types of guys floating in free agency…

      • Phil B.

        Phil B. says:
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        @Yes sir: Burns is not even good at OBP and defintely not slugging as you know already. All he brings is steals, which can have value but no power, no rbi’s, some runs. He doesn’t walk either, though his K rate is really low (6.4%) so I don’t see him improving.

        Domingo I cut bait with a while ago. Looking at Upton’s numbers aren’t really out of line with his career; though he’s obviously on the downside, and his BABIP is a bit inflated at .352. Martin or Span are blech in your type of league. So long story short, I’d ride Upton’s hot streak and then reassess.

  3. Down on Upton says:
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    I’ve been patiently letting J. Upton occupy a bench spot on my roster for what feels like far too long. I know he’s streaky, but with guys like Duvall and Phillips available in my OPS league, is it time to move on from Upton? His .573 OPS is atrocious and he’s not really showing signs of improvement.

    • Phil B.

      Phil B. says:
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      @Down on Upton: I am still holding him though he’s riding my bench in a few leagues, and I think its still too early to give up on him. If there was any way to package him in with a trade to open up some spots to add both guys I’d try to do it first. I’m giving Upton until June 1st, but you’re right, not really showing much improvement. Depends on size of league too. 8 team he’s a goner. 10, I could see it. 12 team or greater have to hold.

      • Down on Upton says:
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        @Phil B.: Thanks! I’m in a 10-team league and all of the other managers laughed when I tried to package him in trade offers. Sad times. I guess I can hold a little longer.

        • Phil B.

          Phil B. says:
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          @Down on Upton: At least you know you’re in a good league. I’m in an 8-team keeper with him and if the rosters weren’t so deep he would’ve been gone ages ago.

  4. Matt says:
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    Thoughts on Jacob Turner in 6×6 OBP/Slug% leagues? Currently hitting .240/.324/.331 with 1 HR, 9 RBI

    I’ve been holding him all year due simply to him posting consecutive years of .370+ OBPs w/ .490s slug% but I’m at point now where I’m considering dropping. We have small benches (3 players) so not a lot of room to be benching players for significant stretches.

    I’m not exactly deep at 3b but considering replacing with 1 of Jake Lamb, Mark Reynolds (.377/.466 this year), plouffe or a CI option like John Jaso, Ryan Zimmerman…..Or just using Turner spot to speculate on a future closer-option as I’m currently closerless.

    • Phil B.

      Phil B. says:
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      @Matt: I assume we’re talking Justin Turner of the Dodgers, and if so, I’d dump him. His ISO this season is .091 which is terrible, but his career other MLB seasons were: 2011: .097, 2012: .123, 2013: .105, 2014: .153, 2015: .197. It’s looking like last season was the outlier and he isn’t even a 8 HR guy.

      I’d take Lamb first; he will help in OBP & SLG, just don’t expect more than 10 HRs the rest of the way. Then Jaso, then Plouffe, then Reynolds, as he proves that Coors can help, especially in platoon splits at home. Last Zimmerman, who is an injury waiting to happen but does sometimes get hot for a week or two.

      If you don’t need any of those guys I like the idea of closer speculation for sure.

      • Matt says:
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        @Phil B.: Appreciate it Phil.

        I went ahead and dropped him…actually snagged Jesse Hahn as he’s returning tomorrow and I’m intrigued by that 94+ MPH fastball he boasts nowadays…plus my pitching could use help.

        Obv streamer barring impressve results so I will likely replace w/ Lamb and/or a closer.

        • Phil B.

          Phil B. says:
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          @Matt: Anytime. I can dig it, Lamb can get hot and he’s in a good home park too.

          • Matt says:
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            @Phil B.: Correct that—just realized I actuallyI snagged Jesse Hahn for Billy Burns, so went ahead and snagged Jake Lamb for Justin Turner as well—that .927 OPS so far is too tasty.

            Now I just gotta find a way to add Giles/Harris for some save speculation :/

            Thanks again!

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