Monday, June 20, 2011
The all-time all-old team
By David Schoenfield
In honor of 80-year-old Jack McKeon taking over the reins of the Marlins, we present the all old-team. If you weren't at least 40 years old, you're too young for this club.
C -- Carlton Fisk, 1990 White Sox (42). Only two catchers have caught at least 100 games at 40 or older, with Fisk and Bob Boone each doing it twice. In 1990, Fisk caught 116 games (and played in 137 overall) and hit .285/.378/.451 with 18 home runs and 65 RBIs. His OPS+ was eighth-best in the American League among all hitters. He even stole seven bases -- more than Joe DiMaggio ever stole in a single season.
1B -- Darrell Evans, 1985 Tigers (40). You'd think first base would be the refuge of old hitters who could still rake, but such is not the case. Evans hit .257/.359/.501 with 34 home runs and 99 RBIs, making him the only 40-year-old first baseman (minimum 50 percent of games played at first base) to hit more than 20 home runs or drive in 70. Pete Rose did hit .325 at age 40, although with a homer, and 45-year-old Julio Franco hit .309 in part-time duty for the Braves in 2004.
2B -- Joe Morgan, 1984 A's (40). Only five players have played 100 games at second base at age 40: Morgan, Craig Biggio, Jeff Kent, Rabbit Maranville and Nap Lajoie. Morgan, Maranville and Lajoie are all Hall of Famers and Biggio and Kent may get there. None of them really hit all that, but in his final season in the majors at least Morgan drew a lot of walks to post a good on-base percentage. His final line: .244/.356/.351 with six home runs and 43 RBIs.
3B -- Graig Nettles, 1985 Padres (40). Nettles hit .261/.363/.420 with 15 home runs and 61 RBIs, edging out Hall of Famer Luke Appling, who hit .314 but with no home runs for the 1948 White Sox.
SS -- Luke Appling, 1949 White Sox (42). Appling was back at shortstop in 1949 and hit .301/.439/.394, ranking second in the AL in on-base percentage. He drew 121 walks ... and struck out just 24 times.
LF -- Ted Williams, 1960 Red Sox (41). In his final season, Williams hit .316/.451/.645 with 29 home runs and 72 RBIs in 113 games. There was stiff competition for this slot: Barry Bonds had a .480 OBP at age 42, Stan Musial hit .330 at age 41 and 40-year-old Rickey Henderson hit .315 with 89 runs scored for the '99 Mets.
CF -- Willie Mays, 1971 Giants (40). Mays had lost a step in the field, but thanks to 112 walks led the NL with a .425 on-base percentage. He added 18 home runs and scored 82 runs. two other 40-year-olds have been regular center fielders in recent years: Kenny Lofton in 2007 and Steve Finley in 2006.
RF -- Ty Cobb, 1927 A's (40). Not a bad outfield, eh? Cobb hit .357 with 93 RBIs and 104 runs, edging out Sam Rice's 1930 season with the Senators (.349, 121 runs). Rice was one of the great 40-and-over performers, racking up 551 hits from his age-40 season onward (second only to Pete Rose).
P -- Randy Johnson, 2004 Diamondbacks (40). Johnson went 16-14 with a 2.60 and led the NL with 290 strikeouts while pitching 245 2/3 innings. And here's the thing: He finished second in the NL Cy Young vote to 41-year-old Roger Clemens, who went 18-4 with a 2.98 ERA and 218 strikeouts in 214 innings. Johnson had the better season. The list of 40-and-over great pitchers is a long one, from Cy Young to Warren Spahn (23-7 age 42) to Phil Niekro to Nolan Ryan to Jamie Moyer. Since 1901, Niekro has the most wins from his age-40 season on with 121, followed by Moyer's 103.