In an era where the long ball is valued much more than a batting average, on-base percentage, or clutch performance, hitters that fail to come up with a sizable amount of home runs after they play into their mid-30's are frequently shoved out of the world.
A hitter whose so sole contribution is power (i.e. Ryan Howard, Mike Jacobs, Reggie Jackson) typically has a much shorter career than those hitters whom depend on speed, and batting average. The age of 40 is a death sentence for a hitter. Point in case; Barry Bonds. Bonds hit 209 home runs during his four consecutive MVP awards (ages 36-39). After his 40th birthday, he hit 38 long-balls over the course of three seasons.
A truly spectacular hitter has the ability to succeed after hit reaches 40, and the following are the top ten performances.
The most recent Hall of Fame inductee, "The Man of Steal" (love that nickname) had a surprising season for the Mets in 1999. He hit a good 12 homers to go along with his 30 doubles. He also stole an incredible 37 bases. Keep in mind people, that this is a 40 year old. Los Angeles Dodger outfielder Matt Kemp Stole 35 bases as a 23 year old.
He went to hit for a .315 average, a .407 OBP, and a 1.00 strikeout per walk ratio.
Without question, Cap Anson was the best hitter after the ripe old age of 40.
Out of hitters who played at and beyond the age of 40, Cap ranked first in runs (440), hits (822), total bases (1048, first by 206), doubles (135), runs batted in (520, first by 238), walks (339), runs created (418), and extra base hits (174). He also ranked second in batting average (.317), at bats per strikeouts (28.9), stolen bases (90), and third in triples (26).
Cap also was credited with pioneering spring training and coordinating infield and outfield play.
"Pop" had one of the best short seasons ever in 1894, hitting a .388 batting average, 82 runs, 99 RBIs, 5 home runs, 17 stolen bases, a .457 on-base percentage, and a .538 slugging percentage.
The only problem his season isn't ranked higher is because he only played in 83 games.
Evans had a very good year in 1987; a year that looking at the numbers, I should have ranked him a bit higher.
Evans hit 34 home runs, 90 runs, 99 runs batted in, a .357 on-base percentage, and a .501 slugging percentage. He also was fifth in the league in at bats per home run (14.7). I dropped him down a bit because he hit a terrible .257 batting average.
Ole Cappy had an excellent 41 year-old season hitting a .314 batting average, a .415 on-base percentage, 70 runs, 91 runs batted in, and 13 stolen bases.
The most ridiculous part of this season, is that he only struck out 12 times, while walking 68 times for a minute .17 strikeout per walk ratio.
Lifetime Cardinal Stan Musial put up yet another good season in 1962, hitting 19 home runs, 82 runs batted in, 57 runs, a .330 batting average (third in the league), a .416 on-base percentage (second in the league), and a .508 slugging percentage.
These stats may not stack up well against the others, but the late 50's, early 60's was a very good pitching era and Stan had good numbers in that time.
Luke Appling was never a home run hitter, but he was one of the best right handed contact hitters in baseball history.
As the story goes, Luke requested a couple of balls from the club secretary to give to a couple kids. She refused to give in saying "They cost $2.75 a piece." Appling walked away disgusted, but the first time he came to bat, he worked the count to 3-2 and fouled off 10 pitches into the stands. Appling stepped out of the batters box and shouted to the secretary in the stands, "That's $27.50, and I'm just getting started." By the time we was done at bat, he distributed 23 souvenirs to the fans.
Luke had a great season in 1949, hitting 82 runs, 21 doubles, a .301 batting average, and a .425 on-base percentage (second in the league).
What I love about this season (and most all Luke Appling seasons) is his strikeout to walk ratio. Luke drew 121 walks (fourth in the league), while striking out only 24 times, good enough for a .19 walk per strikeout ratio.
The Splendid Splinter put up an incredible year in 1960, hitting 29 home runs, 72 runs batted in, 56 runs, a .316 batting average, a .451 on-base percentage, and a .645 slugging percentage.
Looking at all those numbers, if he had more production in front of, and behind him in the lineup, he could have put up another MVP award.
Cap put up another great season for the Cubbies hitting a .335 batting average, a .408 on-base percentage, a .422 slugging percentage, 87 runs, 91 runs batted in, 12 steals, 23 doubles, and 6 triples.
He gets extra credit being the oldest on the list.
A few of you may not like this selection because he is a Designated Hitter, but the stats don't lie: 92 runs, 26 home runs (ninth in the league), 108 runs batted in, a .290 batting average, and a .491 slugging percentage (seventh in the league).
He also won the silver slugger, basically meaning he was the best at his position at the time (something no other 40+ year old hitter could say), and was fifth in MVP voting.
This was the last great season of Sammy's Hall of Fame career, even though he leads all players 40 and above in batting average (.321).
Sam's career would have looked a lot differently had he stuck to his original position. As a pitcher, Sam had a lousy 11-12 record to go along with a .310 batting average. When Sam collected seven hits in nine pinch hit at bats, Eddie Foster, a Washington Senators outfielder, suggested he be converted into an outfielder.
Sam continued his career at age 40 hitting a .349 batting average (he was a career .322 hitter), a .407 on-base percentage, 207 hits (third best in the league), 35 doubles, 13 triples, 121 runs, 73 runs batted in, and 13 steals.
He also only struck out 14 times, while walking 55 times (a .25 strikeout per walk ratio).