Being one who is pretty super close to 50, I’ve had my fair share of hearing the term “old” over the past few years. Most of the strangers I meet who have yet to grow the first few dashes of salt in their young peppery hair refer to me as “sir.” I’m not a CEO or executive, nor do I hold high military rank, so the term more irks than compliments, but I guess it’s a sign of aging. There are a few older guys in the MLB who are probably referred to as “Sir” in their respective clubhouses by the young guys even though they’re not quite Gaylord Perry nor Satchel Paige-old, nor are they anywhere near 50, but in sports past early 30s is considered old. Like in life, old doesn’t mean done and there are a few old guys who have caught fire in the warmer temperatures and could be solid waiver wire pickups for your fantasy baseball team. Let’s take a look at these “old” vets and see how they could help.
Fantasy baseball advice regarding Los Angeles Dodgers and Pittsburgh Pirates
J.D. Martinez, Los Angeles Dodgers
Full disclosure here, up until about a month ago I had completely forgot J.D. Martinez was still in baseball. Even though he helped bring a World Series championship to my Red Sox in his first of five seasons at Fenway, after 2020, I wasn’t really paying attention. Shame on me because outside of the 2020 pandemic-impacted season Martinez hit well his whole time in Beantown. In fact, over his previous 12 seasons in the league, aside from 2020, only Martinez’ last two seasons in Houston (2012-2013) were ones where he didn’t produce like his days in Detroit where he made his name.
After a sluggish start to the season, the 35-year-old DH has found a fountain of youth of sorts since May and is a big reason the Los Angeles Dodgers are once again a top team in the National League, sitting just a game behind Arizona in the NL West. On the season J.D. is hitting .277 with fifteen homers, 43 RBI and a solid .947 OPS which is sixth in the entire MLB. Like I mentioned, it was May where Martinez has made his bones on the season thus far. The “old-timer” hit .311 in May, raising his overall batting average 28 points while also hitting eight homers with 24 RBI and a whopping 1.040 OPS. As the calendar has turned to June, Martinez has not showed any signs of slowing down. Over the past two weeks, the elder Dodger is hitting .358 with nine home runs while slugging at an .830 clip with a 1.211 OPS and he’s been doing it against all comers as L.A. has played the Braves, Cardinals, Tampa Bay, the Yankees and Reds over that time. Martinez hit two home runs over the weekend against the Yankees and also homered Tuesday night in the series opener against the Reds.
It’s not all unicorns and fireworks for the veteran Dodger. Martinez has 54 strikeouts to just 10 walks on the season and has 18 multi-strikeout games. Along with the unfavorable strikeout to walk ratio, some of J.D.’s splits could also raise an eyebrow of caution. He’s crushing right-handed pitching at a .308 clip but just .182 against southpaws. His home/away split is also something to note as he’s only hitting .239 at his new home ballpark but rocking a .315 average on the road.
The Dodgers are in Cincinnati and Philadelphia this week then back to Chavez Ravine to play the White Sox. Martinez is a career .300 hitter at Great American Ball Park with four home runs and a .957 OPS, but his numbers at Citizens Bank Park in Philly aren’t as great. J.D. is just a .226 hitter in the City of Brotherly Love.
One last note on Martinez: he’s listed in many leagues as just a DH. Martinez only has one game in left field this year which means he might only be able to be plugged in at the “utility” spot on your fantasy roster.
Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates
Much like Martinez, I had completely forgotten about Andrew McCutchen. He was such a ballyhooed stud when he began his career in 2009, bursting onto the MLB stage and reigniting hopes of a title in Pittsburgh. I knew he had left the Pirates but just lost track of him. McCutchen was gone for five years bouncing around on four teams. In those five years, the one-time Pirate All-Star never hit over .260 in a season and all his other numbers weren’t exactly catching headlines. One could easily label his time away from Pittsburgh as “lost years,” but as the saying goes, “what once was lost now is found” and McCutchen has surely found his old self in his return season with the Pirates.
One the year thus far, McCutchen is batting a steady .269 with eight homeruns, 23 RBI and an OPS of .816 (his best since his last season with Pittsburgh in 2017). The thirty-six-year-old DH/Right Fielder also has seven stolen bases and is on pace to recapture the stolen base numbers of his early days in the Steel City.
Much like Martinez, McCutchen is a major contributor to his team’s success as the Pirates continue to battle the Brewers for first place in the NL Central while still in the mix for top team in the National League. While not putting up explosive numbers, McCutchen has been steady. Over the past week he’s hit .333 with two stolen bases and a .522 OBP. McCutchen is currently riding a five-game streak where he has reached base multiple times in a game. Also like Martinez, the month of May was very fruitful for ye olde Pirate. McCutchen started his 15th season strong, hitting as high as .290 on April 20. After cooling off for a few weeks, McCutchen rebounded and raised his batting average 26 points last month.
McCutchen is listed in most leagues as both an outfielder and DH. He’s the Pirates DH a majority of the time but is hitting .318 when starting in right field. Manager Derek Shelton usually bats McCutchen third in the lineup where he’s hit seven of his eight home runs but only carrying a .244 batting average. When he’s not batting third, McCutchen is in the leadoff spot where his average soars to .315.
The Pirates host the Mets this weekend then visit Wrigley and Milwaukee next week. McCutchen is a career .300 hitter at Wrigley Field with 14 homers and has hit 33 homers at Miller Park at a .266 clip.
Good luck out there and never count out the old guys!