Mike Trout and Bryce Harper led a rookie class in 2012 that could seriously go down as one of the best of all-time. It just seemed like everywhere you turned, someone barely old enough to drive a car was leading his team to a win. Throw them into an under-30 group of players that already included studs like Buster Posey, Andrew McCutchen, Ryan Braun, Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, and many, many others, and the future of baseball, both real and fantasy, appears to be in phenomenal shape.
But there’s plenty of room in baseball for an old dog, and that’s what we’re going to take a look at here. When we first decided to make this one of our countdown topics, two of the first names that jumped into my head were David Ortiz and Carlos Beltran. The problem is that I don’t trust that either will play more than 120 games in any given season. Alfonso Soriano was also one of the last men out. While I love his power numbers, remember that his 2012 batting average was as high as it was in any year since 2008. He came in at .262. Also, like Ortiz and Beltran, injuries are a concern.
Before I go on, the cutoff for qualifying on this list is that the player must turn 35 by June 30, 2013, or halfway through the season. So, the age you see listed will be how old he will be on that day. Get it? Got it? Good! Let’s get to it!
1. Roy Halladay (36) — Pitcher, Philadelphia Phillies
The injury bug hit Doc in 2012, but he pitched healthy enough for me to believe that he still has quite a bit left in the tank. There’s a lot about Roy Halladay that I like, but if I had to pick one thing that makes him stand out, it’s this. He doesn’t walk anybody. Heck, as bad as 2012 was, his WHIP was still a respectable 1.22.
Doc led his league in strikeout-to-walk ratio every year from 2008-2011, and had the best BB:9 split between 2009-2011. Even from a pitcher in his mid-30′s, it’s going to take more than one up-and-down, injury plagued year to give up on him. Given the extraordinary shape that Halladay keeps himself in, there’s no reason to believe that he won’t bounce back in 2013, when health won’t be a concern.
2. Paul Konerko (37) — First Baseman, Chicago White Sox
Injuries were a slight concern for Paul Konerko in 2012. Still, for a few reasons, I am not terribly concerned.
- He doesn’t play a particularly grueling position.
- In the American League, Konerko can always be moved to DH, where he’s played 35 or more games in each of the last two seasons.
- Konerko has played in 144 or more games in each of the last four seasons.
While we’re on that subject, let’s take a look at what he’s done since 2009.
75 runs, 31 homers, 95 RBI, all while hitting .297 over those seasons. I don’t see anything that tells me that he can’t come right around all of those numbers again in 2012.