Every year, it seems like there’s a handful of veteran players who go overlooked by fantasy owners. Part of it is likely that these 30-somethings do not excite you anymore. You’ve been scrolling past some of these names for a decade, if not longer. Your eyes simply skim through them on their quest to find that young sleeper who’s about to break out.
Another part of the the puzzle may be that no analysts write about these guys anymore. What would anyone possibly have to say at this point about a player we’ve all been watching since 2005? “He’s still here”? That’s no fun — at least, it’s far less fun than projecting the next breakout performer.
As someone who understands that life isn’t always fun, I hereby declare my intent to remind you that the following three players are worth owning, despite their relatively high ‘old and boring’ levels.
Shin-Soo Choo (17% Yahoo, 17.5% ESPN, 46% CBS, 92.1% Ottoneu)
I understand there might not be anything sexy about owning Choo these days. The guy does turn 35 next month, and spent most of last year struggling with injuries. However, the fact that he’s owned in about 17% of Yahoo/ESPN leagues is entirely unforgivable. Check out these numbers and tell me why he’s on your waiver wire.
- 2017 (260 PA) – .262/.382/.430, 10 HR, 6 SB, 38 R, 32 RBI
With that tasty .382 on-base percentage, he’s not just a must-own, he’s a must-start in every OBP format. Actually, as of right now, Choo is the No. 19 OF in an OBP league I’m in.
Those of you who use batting average take a small hit, but I would still remind everyone that Choo spent the first five weeks of this season bouncing around the lineup, spending roughly equal time in the No. 2, 7 and 8 slots. Since May 9, he’s hit exclusively 1st or 2nd in the Rangers lineup, scoring 24 runs in those 31 games. His present value is certainly higher than his season-long counting stats make it look. In standard 5×5 leagues, he’s the No. 45 OF on the season, and No. 25 in the last 30 days.
As usual, Choo isn’t doing much except drawing walks against lefties (.217/.400/.283). However, it’s pretty easy to simply bench him whenever the Rangers face a lefty, and feast off his robust .274/.377/.470 slash against right-handers.
In short, I do not understand his ownership levels at all. He’s putting up strong individual numbers, and he hits at the top of the lineup in a tiny little bandbox of a ballpark. And he’s probably on your waiver wire.
Jed Lowrie (25% Yahoo, 48.7% ESPN, 50% CBS, 75.3% Ottoneu)
It’s easy to forget that Lowrie can be pretty good when he’s actually healthy. The 33-year-old is probably held together with duct tape and rubber bands at this point, seeing as he’s spent time on the disabled list in seven of his nine major-league seasons. Just in the last two years, he missed time with injuries to his right thumb, left quad, right shin and left foot. However, Lowrie has somehow managed to play 2 1/2 months of injury-free baseball this year, churning out an impressive batting line.
- 2017 (284 PA) – .287/.359/.484, 8 HR, 43 R, 24 RBI
Even though he plays more of a premium position than Choo does, I’m more forgiving of Lowrie’s low ownership. His injury history is insane — he’s played 100 games just twice in his nine prior MLB seasons — and even when he’s on the field, he hasn’t been worth owning since 2013. It’s also worth being skeptical when a 33-year-old is posting arguably the best offensive season of his career.
Still, Lowrie isn’t doing anything that seems all that fluky either. He’s produced numbers close to this before, in his solid 2013 and his excellent but injury-shortened 2010, for example. These current numbers are unexpected, but they’re not without precedent. They’re not outliers.
He could easily hit the DL tomorrow. Or he could lose his power stroke, as he seems to do every other year or so. On the other hand, it’s nearly July and he’s hitting for power while flirting with a .300 AVG. He should not be available in 50-75% of standard leagues like he is. Go get him.
Jarrod Dyson (18% Yahoo, 16% ESPN, 42% CBS, 37.7% Ottoneu)
The Mariners made an interesting dice-roll this offseason, essentially employing a “three center fielders” strategy to cover the large outfield at Safeco. One of those three was Dyson, a 32-year-old defense-first player who had never been entrusted with a full-time starting job. An odd choice to slot in as your everyday left fielder, to say the least.
As it turned out, Leonys Martin scuffled so badly to start the season that he’s been in Triple-A since mid-April, Mitch Haniger got hurt, and Dyson stuck in the lineup largely because he was the last CF standing. Now, the Mariners are likely thankful that they were forced to give Dyson as long of a leash as they did.
I’m always hesitant with players like Dyson, who are getting their first full-time shot after a career of part-time jobs. You can’t just expand their partial-season production over a full season’s worth of plate appearances. Well, unless you’re Jarrod Dyson, who is basically doing exactly that.
I’m not saying that he’s a great hitter, because he isn’t, but he is 5th in the majors in steals, with 17. The top three players on the stolen-base list — Billy Hamilton, Trea Turner and Dee Gordon — are all nearly universally owned. Then, we reach the No. 4 player, Cameron Maybin. Like Dyson, Maybin is over 30 and doesn’t usually play a full season (although for Maybin it’s usually because of injuries). Let’s make a quick comparison.
- Maybin (48% Yahoo, 45.6% ESPN, 52% CBS, 73.2% Ottoneu)
- .270, 4 HR, 21 SB, 41 R, 14 RBI
- Dyson (18% Yahoo, 16% ESPN, 42% CBS, 37.7% Ottoneu)
- .244, 4 HR, 17 SB, 37 R, 20 RBI
Dyson comes out slightly ahead in R+RBI, they’re even in HR, and Maybin has small but noteworthy AVG and SB advantages. Don’t get me wrong, I too would rather own Maybin than Dyson, but not to the point where I would expect ownership rates approaching a 3:1 ratio.
Scott Strandberg started writing for Rotographs in 2013. He works in small business consultation, and he also writes A&E columns for The Norman Transcript newspaper. Scott lives in Seattle, WA.