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39 & Older – Playing Both 2B & Catcher In The Same Season

Posted by Steve Lombardi on September 11, 2011

Now, here's a trivia question for you:  How many major leaguers have played both catcher and second base in the same season where they were age 39 or older?

The list -

Rk   Yrs From To Age  
1 Jorge Posada 1 2011 2011 39-39 Ind. Seasons
2 Brad Ausmus 1 2008 2008 39-39 Ind. Seasons
3 Craig Biggio 1 2007 2007 41-41 Ind. Seasons
4 Tug Wilson 1 1884 1884 99-99 Ind. Seasons
5 Bill Morgan 1 1884 1884 99-99 Ind. Seasons
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 9/11/2011.

.
Welcome to the club, Jorge.

And, yeah, who knows how old those 19th century guys were...

In my mind, this is a gang of three.

This entry was posted on Sunday, September 11th, 2011 at 11:12 am and is filed under Season Finders. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

21 Responses to “39 & Older – Playing Both 2B & Catcher In The Same Season”

  1. Normally, I like having 19th century guys on the lists, but those guys don't have birthdates listed at all. I'd just remove them. The script problem had a 0 for birthdate or something.

  2. The Bullpen page for BIll Morgan says he was born in May, 1853. So he was only 30 at the start of the '84 season.
    And I found this on wikipedia.org for Tug Wilson. Says he was born in 1860 so he was only 23 or 24: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tug_Wilson

  3. Interestingly, Ausmus and Biggio did it in the same game for the Astros, trading positions with each other:

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/HOU/HOU200709290.shtml

  4. @3
    That looks like it was something done for Biggio's last homestand. Anyone remember?

  5. Brendan Burke Says:

    @4

    Yes, but Ausmus was 38 when that game happened. So he's only on the list for the year after.

  6. This is a result of 13 man pitching staffs- I keep hoping that someday some manager will have the brains to use his best reliever more than 60 innings (and many of the wrong innings at that), realize that a 10 man pitching staff is plenty, add a few more position players and win himself a few pennants.

  7. Hartvig-

    While I agree with the general sentiment about the misuse of relievers and its effect on roster construction, I think there is more at play than failed strategy.

    With a few notable exceptions, the long term effectiveness of a reliever is inconsistent and unreliable. Would a team be smarter to "stream" relievers season-by-season, running them out there for 100+ innings and getting rid of them when they ultimately break down? Yes. But with contracts for relievers trending towards multiple years and seven figures, it is hard to justify using such a huge investment in such a risky way. What reliever would sign a one or two year deal, knowing he's going to be asked to throw 100+ innings and may wind up useless afterward when he can sign a 4-year-deal guaranteed?

  8. Cap Anson played both 2nd base and catcher after age 40, but not in the same season. The last time he did both in the same season was at age 38.

    Anson is, I believe, the only player to catch a game as a teenager (in 1871) and after age 40. I-Rod will join him if he catches a game in 2012.

  9. Johnny Twisto Says:

    I keep hoping that someday some manager will have the brains to use his best reliever more than 60 innings (and many of the wrong innings at that), realize that a 10 man pitching staff is plenty

    Managers *did* have 10-man pitching staffs. Then they changed. Why?

    I got Microleague Baseball c. 1985 and the rosters allowed for 10 pitchers. So I'll use that as a default 10-pitcher season. That year, SP accounted for 69.5% of all IP (compared to 67.7% this season). The average team pitches around 1450 IP. So you want your 5 SP to average about 202 IP each, a total which 41 starters (well under 2 per team) reached last season. And your 5 relievers to average about 88 IP each, which 2 relievers in all of MLB reached last season. Yes, there are injuries which prevent certain guys from reaching these thresholds they were on pace for. Then again, they *were* injured, so were they capable of being worked even harder?

    I think it's more interesting strategy to use pinch-hitters, pinch-runners, and defensive subs than new relievers. But I'm not sure it's more effective. It's easy to say you prefer a 10-man staff, but I think it's harder to show where you'd actually make those changes. And to what gain? So Jorge Posada, a borderline HOFer with nearly 1600 games caught, *doesn't* have to catch 6 innings one day?

  10. BSK- I don't see a lot of evidence that using relief pitchers 100 to 120 innings a year causes them to break down any sooner than they would anyways. Goose Gossage had 3 seasons as a reliever that he pitched between 130 and 142 innings, sandwiched around his one failed season as a starter in which he pitched 224 innings. He managed to pitch another 16 seasons. Dan Quesenberry had 5 seasons between 128 & 139 innings pitched. Bruce Sutter had 5 season of over 100 IP and another of 98 & 2/3's. On the other hand Troy Percival maxed out at 74 innings in any season and only had 3 of more than 58, yet he was notoriously inconsistent and brittle. Eric Gagne had 2 failed seasons as a starter, maxed out at 82 innings pitched as a reliever, made $40 million dollars in his career and managed 3 effective seasons.

    Yes you can overuse a relief pitcher. But pitchers breakdown almost no matter what you do. And 70 relief appearances or 120 innings in a season isn't going to make that any more likely- in fact I'd say it's worse for the pitcher if they have a manager who's got his bullpen up and down warming up but doesn't use them. And finally, almost by definition most relief pitchers are notoriously inconsistent- why baby them along and only get 60 innings out of them when they're going good so you can get another 60 innings out of them the next year when they pitch like they're throwing batting practice?

  11. Johnny Twisto Says:

    I don't see a lot of evidence that using relief pitchers 100 to 120 innings a year causes them to break down any sooner than they would anyways.

    Yeah, I don't have evidence either (in part because there's no (publicly available) injury database (to my knowledge)). But there *is* evidence top relievers are more effective with less work. Is the tradeoff worth it?

    I'd say it's worse for the pitcher if they have a manager who's got his bullpen up and down warming up but doesn't use them

    It seems like this is a likely byproduct of trying to have your relief "ace" ready to enter in the 7th with runners on base, if necessary. You get him up, the emergency is defused, he sits back down. I have no idea what warming habits were like 30 years ago. If Gossage started warming in the 7th, did he come in regardless, or sit back down and wait for a possible 8th or 9th inning appearance?

  12. Well, 10-man pitching staffs probably arent a good idea to happen again. But, the trend towards 12-13 pitchers, is flat out stupid. 11-pitchers worked fine for many teams even a decade ago. That wouldnt be bad. If 13-pitchers is going to be where we are going we will need 26-man rosters (at least in the NL where despite the pitcher eating up a lineup spot you can probably expect 2 PH/double switches because of the pitcher in the day of the 5-IP start)

  13. I agree with #12. It seems like everyone was just starting to carry 11 pitchers in the mid-90s, when the Rockies decided to start carrying 12 and it got some media attention, although it was understandable for them considering the pre-humidor Mile High Stadium and Coors Field. Most teams seem to have one or two guys in the back of the bullpen who get hardly any work.

  14. I'm sure the MLBPA would love to expand the rosters. :)

    That might be more likely to happen than teams carrying fewer pitchers, actually.

  15. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    @12/ Groundball - I agree with you - as for what a manager would do with an extra position player (or two), I'd much rather have an extra pinch-hitter/ 3rd catcher/ pinch-runner/ defensive replacement, than another relief pitcher.

    The extra position player(s) can be used for specific situations to help you win particular games. The 13th pitcher would be the _eighth_ best relief pitcher on the team, and usually used in "mop-up" situations, when the game is already won or lost.

    Whatever happened to the third catcher anyway, has that completely dissappeared with 12-man pitching staffs? I guess the actual 3rd catcher would often be a multi-position utility guy who can play first/ third/pinch-hit, and catch in an emergency.

  16. @8

    Rick Dempsey missed joining him by 10 days (he debuted 10 days after turning 20) and Hank Gowdy missed by 20 (also debuted just a little too late).

  17. I hate over-specialization. In the NFL now most teams have a player who will be on the field for maybe 4-5 plays a game, 50+ yard field goals and kickoffs. In major league baseball adding a 26th man gives us a 3rd string catcher or a 13th pitcher. Yeah!

    Give me Brooks Kieschnick I say!

  18. A nice piece about three older players playing both catcher & 2B has evolved into a discussion regarding the use of pitchers. I know baseball will not do it because of the salaries, but I think they should add two players to the active rosters. Of course, these extra relief pitchers and the constant pitching changes are a big reason why games last as long as they do.

  19. Johnny Twisto Says:

    I know baseball will not do it because of the salaries, but I think they should add two players to the active rosters.

    Why?

    I fear that rosters are going to expand. I don't see any reason why they need to. Let's see who can manage their personnel better.

  20. MLB network did a nice piece on the evolution of the relief pitcher. I think people fail to understand the differences in the game between today and yesteryear when it comes to relief pitchers especially. First off, most relievers sucked through the history of baseball (with a few notable exceptions of course). The average relief ERA was higher than that of the starters (which is the opposite now). When you needed a GOOD reliever in a pressure situation, you used to use your GOOD starter.

    The other thing is that guys who can't throw many pitches effectively didn't use to keep their jobs. You can only throw a cutter? Well, I guess you better learn to play football. Specialized relievers with short stamina or quirky pitches that don't work as well when you see them frequently are a modern creation. In the old days, they'd be gone but now they can be used effectively. The left handed specialist, the side-arming change of pace guy, the "Throw 98mph" guy who could only throw 94mph if you made him a starter and can't get anybody out at that velocity, etc.

    Through all the offense, bullpen ERA's have improved. Complaining about relievers not being able to work <60 innings and pulling out specific examples ignores the larger trend that as reliever's workloads have decreased, their ERA+'s have skyrocketed.

  21. Ivan Rodriguez did this once as well, but it was back in 2006 and he was only 34.

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/BOS/BOS200608150.shtml

    I remember watching the game and saying, "wait, they put pudge where?"

    he even caught a pop-up in shallow right off the bat of kevin youkilis