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Advancing Age and Brian Roberts

Brian Roberts is a three-category fantasy star at a tough defensive position. While he does not have the cachet of playing for the World Series winner, like Chase Utley, or as his league’s reigning MVP, like Dustin Pedroia, Roberts is one of the elite 2B available. A top-notch contributor at AVG, R and SB, Roberts has turned in five straight seasons in which he’s made fantasy players happy.

The only warning sign around Roberts is his age. He turned 31 in October, which is not generally old for baseball players but is for 2B. For every player like Jeff Kent, who retained excellent production past 35, one could name several elite players at the position who lost fantasy relevance at an early age. Roberto Alomar had his last big season at age 33. Carlos Baerga peaked at 26. Steve Sax was done at 31. And just in case you want more examples, how about Edgardo Alfonzo, Glenn Beckert, Dave Cash, Delino DeShields, Marcus Giles, Tom Herr, Chuck Knoblauch, Harold Reynolds, Juan Samuel and Robby Thompson – all former All Stars who lost effectiveness early.

On the plus side, Roberts posted his highest AVG/OB/SLG marks since his standout 2005 season. Additionally, his BB% remains strong at 11.8 percent. On the flip side Roberts’ K% of 17 percent in 2008 was the highest of his career. Roberts hit 18 HR in 2005 but fell to single digits last year. And with a HR/FB% of 4.9 percent, owners should not expect a big rebound in that category.

Roberts has always been a strong performer in BABIP (lifetime mark of .320) but his .345 was tied for 14th-best in the majors last year.

In 2008, Roberts was a Top 30 fantasy hitter. While I don’t expect a collapse, I think it is wise to knock him down a bit due to last year’s high BABIP and his advancing age at a position at which players generally do not age gracefully.