The 35 & Up Club: Berkman, Helton, Ortiz, Lowe, Colon
May be you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. On the other hand, there are a few old dogs in the Major Leagues that are up to their old tricks. Here are five players 35 years of age or older who are producing at a high level. But how long can they keep it up? And what you should do if they are on your roster?
Berkman, 35, appeared on our surprise leaderboard list a few weeks ago. Although he has come back to earth recently, he came into Monday night’s games with a season slash line of .347/.434/.694. In just 36 games, he has 11 home runs and 34 RBI – second most in the league. In 122 games last season, he had just 14 home runs and drove in 58. Looking at his current .333 batting average on balls in play (BABIP) compared to his career .317 mark, Berkman’s hot streak appears to be more legit than fluke. The home runs may cool down a bit, but even if they do, he can rack up doubles. After looking done toward the end of last season, Berkman is a keeper in 2011.
A fixture in the Rockies’ lineup since 1998, Helton is showing more power than we have seen in recent seasons. The 35-year-old belted his sixth home run on Sunday after hitting just eight in 2010. In fact, you’ll have to back to 2005 to find the last 20 home run season from Helton. His home run-to-flyball rate is a bit above average; however, 20 home runs look like a possibility once again for him. Meanwhile, Helton’s .325 average should not come as a surprise to anyone. He has not been a source for runs (17) or run production (19 RBI), but if you need average and gap power, he excels at both.
In early 2009, it looked as if Ortiz, 35, was finished as a middle of the order threat in the Red Sox lineup. Fast forward to 2011 and Ortiz has a chance for his seventh 30-plus home run season since moving to Boston in 2003. Big Papi is also hitting for a high average (.295) with a sustainable BABIP (.298) despite the overshifting by opposing defenses. A large portion of that is due to a massive cut down in strikeout rates. As the top of the Red Sox order improves, his RBI chances will increase, only adding to his value.
One of the more durable pitchers of the last decade, Lowe has averaged 205 innings and 15 wins over the past nine seasons. This season, Lowe is striking out nearly a batter per inning after increasing the usage of his cut-fastball and slider. His 3.73 ERA appears sustainable and his groundball rate is once again amongst the league leaders. In a division where he is easily overlooked, Lowe, 37, remains one of the most consistent performers in fantasy leagues & real life as well.
One of the more intriguing storylines in 2011, Colon has been a pleasant surprise in the New York Yankees rotation. Colon sat out the 2010 season, but has racked up 41 strikeouts in 43.1 innings with New York while maintaining a 3.74 ERA in the American League East. The results have been favorable for Colon thus far; however, one must question how long he can sustain this level of success. There isn’t much fluke in his numbers, but, his health remains a big question mark and his strikeout seems unstable considering he is getting a lot of called strikes. If you can afford to sell high, Colon is a good candidate.
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