You only thought they were gone

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - It's always exciting to get a new toy, the one no one else on your block has gotten their parents to buy for them. It's shiny, it's maker claims it's contains gadgets you have never seen before and you'll have hours of fun.

But you shouldn't forget your favorite toy from years past, the one hidden at the bottom of the toy box. It may have a few bumps and bruises, but it always gives you it's best effort.

Let's look at a few of these "old toys."

Alex Rodriguez, who has dropped from the top of many third base rankings, is out to a rip-roaring start. He hit his third home run of the season in the Red Sox's home opener and will carry a gaudy 1.231 OPS into Saturday's action. A- Rod didn't hit his third home run until May 9th last year.

Meanwhile, young Evan Longoria, who was ranked No.1 here at The Sports Network, sits on the disabled list with an oblique strain.

Baltimore Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts missed more than 100 games last year and his 2011 preseason rank left him as a low-end starter. Despite yesterday's rainout, there has been nothing "low-end" about his performance this season. He's belted two home runs and knocked in eight in his first 25 at-bats. Roberts current OPS is at .948, well above his career average of .776. But the best news about Roberts is that he's played in all six of the Orioles games.

Minnesota closer Joe Nathan missed the entire 2010 season due to Tommy John surgery, but he doesn't appear to have missed a beat. So far, he's saved three out of three. Many dropped Nathan out of their top-10 closers because they were afraid of the injury, but you should not be worried. About the only difference between 2011 and 2009 is that he may not pitch three consecutive days.

When we last saw Chipper Jones in 2010, it was August and he had just torn up an ACL. Most, including me, thought we had seen the last of Chipper and that he would retire after an excellent 17-year career. But Jones is fulfilling the final year of his contract and he's off to a solid start, batting .345 with 10 hits in eight games and an OPS of .870. With an ADP around 250, Jones is still available in about 40% of all leagues and could be a nice temporary replacement for the aforementioned Longoria.

Pablo Sandoval was a fantasy sensation in 2009 after posting 25 HR, 90 RBI and hitting a robust .330. But 2010 was a completely different story. Sandoval didn't start any games at catcher, thus losing his eligibility and became a first and third baseman only. He also disappointed fantasy owners offensively, batting just .268 with 13 HR and 63 RBI. So it was no surprise that many left this toy on the bench on Draft Day and that is proving to be a mistake.

Sandoval returned to spring training in much better shape and is rewarding those who stuck with him. He's batting .440 with an OPS of 1.041 through the team's first seven games. He'll never return to his 2009 value level because he won't catch anymore, but he's still got plenty of fantasy production in his bat.

Even if you were thinking of selecting a DH, it wouldn't have been Travis Hafner. Probably you drafted Vladimir Guerrero, Jorge Posada, David Ortiz or Jim Thome.

But it's Hafner who is off to the best start of the group. He's blasted two homers already, is batting .375 with an OPS of 1.090. He, along with his revitalized Cleveland Indians offense (averaging 7.1 runs-per-game) are off to a hot start and with just a 10% ownership, he's available as a free agent pickup.

There are other "old toys" out there who are getting the job done. You just have to look for them and not be blinded by that shiny new toy in the sleek packaging.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.

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