Golden Oldies: MLB's Best Players over 35 Years Old
Remember opening up that pack of baseball cards and getting your favorite player's rookie card in the 90's? Or how about playing with the big-time sluggers in MVP 2003 on the PS2?
Well don't look now, but those dynamic players that were in their prime are now headed towards retirement as they are now nearing 40 years of age. Now for most players that play in the big leagues are done with their playing days by the age of 35, but not in this list.
Sure the days of being on top of the league may be done for these players, but nonetheless, they are still making major contributions to their teams.
In today's list, we break down the top three starting pitchers, two relievers, a closer, and position players to make the best lineup that 35+ year old guys can make. Enjoy.
Starting Pitcher: Bartolo Colon
After taking 2010 off, big boy Bartolo Colon is back in business for the pinstripes.
Hoping to make the roster as a bullpen pitcher, the Yankees found a once-dominant pitcher with some juice left in his arm. After seeing a great spring season from Colon, the Yankees moved their 38-year-old pitcher to the starting rotation.
Using is surprisingly speedy fastball amongst his arsenal of pitches, Colon has racked up a 8-6 record with a solid 3.30 ERA. Colon has also proved that he can blow away batters by striking out 98 batters in 109 innings pitched.
Not bad for the Comeback Player of the Year frontrunner to keep the Yankees in contention to head to the playoffs.
Starting Pitcher: Tim Hudson
The "Big Time Timmy Jim" of the East Coast has been very efficient for the postseason-seeking Braves with nine wins to his name.
Tim Hudson also has a credible 3.31 ERA this season with a 1.118 WHIP, two numbers that are vital for the Braves 36-year-old that have ended up in a 10-7 record.
He may not be having a Cy Young-probable season like he did last year, but Hudson's arm is one reason why the Braves are looking to grab another wild-card bid to the playoffs.
Starting Pitcher: Hiroki Kuroda
With 13 losses so far this season, the 36-year-old Japan native may seem like a surprise in this list. What Kuroda is doing this season is a watered-down version of what Felix Hernandez did last year with his stats.
Kuroda may have a whopping number of losses next to his name, but he has a NL's 11th-best ERA with 3.11. Kuroda also makes his record more head-scratching when it is seen that he has 103 strikeouts, second most amongst 35-and-older pitchers.
Again, he doesn't pass the eye test with his number of losses, but if he was to be placed on a strong-hitting team, his record could be closer to .500, if not better.
Relief Pitcher: Tim Byrdak
The Mets are going through another disappointing year, but Tim Byrdak is having one heck of an individual season.
After starting his career off on a rocky note, the 37-year-old has smoothed things out and has become a reliable short reliever.
In 25.2 innings of pitching, Byrdak has fanned 30 batters and has a 3.51 ERA that the Mets use to their advantage.
Byrdak has yet to lose a game this season, and for that the Mets are thankful, because I have a feeling they are tired of doing that.
Relief Pitcher: Jason Isringhausen
What? Two relievers from the same team? You bet.
Byrdak and Isringhausen make the Mets bullpen look like a senior home, but when they take the mound, you would never guess that they are both supposed to be past their prime.
Isringhausen, now back on the Mets after more than a decade apart, has an impressive 2.60 ERA with zero losses.
Another stat line that puts Isringhausen in the list of best old dudes is his 1.154 WHIP, a number that the Mets wish they took more advantage of.
Closer: Mariano Rivera
Will this guy ever stop? So far, that answer is a no.
The Yankee Sandman has given New York another promising season out of the bullpen to keep them in the playoff hunt. So far Rivera only has one loss in 30 save opportunities and has used his vicious cutter, once again, for an astonishing 1.83 ERA.
Rivera has also kept his accuracy, and that is shown by his 36 strikeouts compared to his five walks this season.
Best closer ever? If he keeps this up, he just may be.
Catcher: Ramon Hernandez
He may not be a household name, but the 35-year-old Ramon Hernandez is definitely something to talk about for all Reds fans.
Hernandez, who splits time with Ryan Hanigan, is one of three catchers to be hitting above .300, with the other two being Brian McCann and Victor Martinez. With his .302 average comes 27 RBI and 23 runs, which makes him responsible for 50 runs in only 62 appearances.
Hernandez has also nabbed 38 percent of would-be base stealers, and having only one error behind the dish doesn't hurt his cause, either.
So again, this may be the first time you ever hear his name, and he may not catch every game, but Hernandez is a gamer even at his old age.
First Base: Paul Konerko
In a battle that ultimately came down to Todd Helton and "Pauly," the White Sox veteran grabs the close edge.
Konerko is using his .305 batting average to keep the White Sox relevant in the weak AL Central division race. Not only is Konerko's average decent, he also has the sixth highest RBI total with 76. Not too shabby for a guy that's 35.
Konerko's fielding is also acceptable for the top fielding team in the league with only four errors in his name.
Konerko has been part of the White Sox for as long as anyone can remember, and unfortunately for every other AL Central team, he is still hitting the cover off the ball to this day.
Second Base: Orlando Cabrera
The newest Giant joins arguably the best National League team and only makes them stronger with his skill set. Cabrera played a big role in the Indians' surprise success on both the offensive and defensive side of the plate.
Orlando has used the best of his veteran body to muster up a .277 on base percentage, which is middle of the road for second basemen.
He also brings his notable glove to San Fransisco that has only given him six errors for a .985 fielding percentage.
Cabrera may not be the strongest player on this list, but he has the tools that are appropriate for another World Series run in San Fran.
Shortstop: Derek Jeter
That's right, Captain 3,000 makes the list despite the fact that this is one of his worst seasons in the pinstripes.
Despite the slow start to the season, Jeter's bat is heating up to a .268 average with a marginal RBI total of 36. Even though the Yankee great is losing his range, the fielding numbers are still up to par with only six errors for a .989 fielding percentage.
Shortstop is a hard position to play, especially when you are past your prime. Jeter still finds a way to produce excellence at his position, and for that reason is why he is one of the greatest of all time.
Third Base: Chipper Jones
From a guy that used to play with him in Backyard Baseball, it seems like this 39-year-old has been in the game longer than cleats.
Year after year, Jones makes a strong case as to why he should be Cooperstown bound, and this season is no exception.
Hitting with a .259 average and a eighth best amongst third basemen 47 RBI, Jones deserves to be on this list of elite old dudes. His fielding is also exceptional considering he only has four errors at the hot corner.
Even though "Chip" has been banged up this season, he is still squeezing out another wonderful season for his Atlanta Braves.
Left Field: Carlos Lee
He may not be on the greatest team this year, but he certainly is one of their greatest players.
At the plate, Lee tries to spark the last-place Astros by hitting .275 with a great RBI total of 60.
Now with Hunter Pence in Philadelphia, Lee will have to step up the rest of the year and control the outfield's reputation, and Houston sure hopes he can rise to the occasion to keep the Astros away from being the laughingstock of baseball.
Center Field: Ichiro
He may not be a center fielder this season, but out of all the outfielders at least 35 years old, Ichiro is the player that could man the position.
The perennial hit leader is having quite the decline as far as stats go, but Seattle is where stats go to die after all (i.e. Felix Hernandez's win total). Ichiro is still a hitting threat with his .269 batting average, but the number that is taking the biggest hit is his 26 RBI.
Then again, he rarely gets base runners to hit in. In the field, Ichiro still has a considerable amount of range, but he has three errors and only four assists, numbers that used to look better in his heyday.
Don't get me wrong, even with a personal bad season, Ichiro is still considered a top outfielder, and that is why the 37-year-old Japanese phenom is most suitable for center field.
Right Field: Lance Berkman
Can't say I spent a long time deciding whether to put this All-Star on the list. Heck, he just may be the most deserving player on this roster.
Hitting .286 with 69 RBI and a National League-leading 27 long balls, Berkman isn't just the best old right fielder, he makes a case to be the best right fielder of any age.
As far as fielding goes, Berkman may want some years back to help his range, but nonetheless he still gets the job done and picks up from where he lacks at the plate.
Berkman is another old school player who is a frequent All Star Game visitor, and he is giving the Cardinals a great shot at making the postseason.
Designated Hitter: Johnny Damon
Making his third stop with an AL East team, Damon makes the list purely for his bat.
Some call him the next player to join the greats in the 3,000-hit circle with 2,678 hits already, and if he keeps up this year he will be climbing progressively closer.
Batting .272, Damon creates a huge number with RBI (48) and runs (50), making him responsible for one run for every game he has played in (98). Not too shabby for a 37-year-old.