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Best season by a 35-year-old (or why Jorge Posada is seeing dollar signs)

Posted by Andy on October 31, 2007

During the season, I wrote about Jorge Posada's incredible season for a 35-year-old. Now that the season has ended, we can get a little perspective on just how good his season was.

He's a free agent and has an interesting decision to make about coming back to the Yankees under his former mentor, Joe Girardi, or moving on. I assume he'll try to get a 4-year contract whereas most teams will only want to give him 3 years. There's actually a very good fit with the Yankees because if Posada eventually needs to move to first base, they are vacant there as well, with Giambi relegated to DH and no good full-time 1B on the roster. (Plus, Giambi will be gone after 2008 anyway, when his contract is up.)

Anyway, check out the top seasons since 1901 for batting average, among 35-year-olds who qualified for the batting title:

  Cnt Player              **BA**  Year Age Tm  Lg  G   PA  AB  R   H  2B 3B HR RBI  BB IBB  SO HBP  SH  SF GDP  SB CS  OBP   SLG   OPS  Positions
+----+-----------------+---------+----+---+---+--+---+---+---+---+---+--+--+--+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+--+-----+-----+-----+---------+
    1 Ty Cobb              .401   1922  35 DET AL 137 612 526  99 211 42 16  4  99  55   0  24   4  27   0   0   9 13  .462  .565 1.027 *8/9      
    2 Nap Lajoie           .384   1910  35 CLE AL 159 677 591  94 227 51  7  4  76  60   0   0   5  21   0   0  26  0  .445  .514  .959 *43       
    3 Tris Speaker         .380   1923  35 CLE AL 150 693 574 133 218 59 11 17 130  93   0  15   4  22   0   0   8  9  .469  .610 1.079 *8        
    4 Tony Gwynn           .368   1995  35 SDP NL 135 577 535  82 197 33  1  9  90  35  10  15   1   0   6  20  17  5  .404  .484  .888 *9        
    5 Lefty O'Doul         .368   1932  35 BRO NL 148 657 595 120 219 32  8 21  90  50   0  20   7   5   0   0  11  0  .423  .555  .978 *7        
    6 Babe Ruth            .359   1930  35 NYY AL 145 676 518 150 186 28  9 49 153 136   0  61   1  21   0   0  10 10  .493  .732 1.225 *97/1     
    7 Bill Terry           .354   1934  35 NYG NL 153 683 602 109 213 30  6  8  83  60   0  47   2  19   0   8   0  0  .414  .463  .877 *3        
    8 Sam Rice             .350   1925  35 WSH AL 152 709 649 111 227 31 13  1  87  37   0  10   4  19   0   0  26 11  .388  .442  .830 *98       
    9 Jack Fournier        .350   1925  35 BRO NL 145 649 545  99 191 21 16 22 130  86   0  39   8  10   0   0   4  6  .446  .569 1.015 *3        
   10 Ted Williams         .345   1954  35 BOS AL 117 526 386  93 133 23  1 29  89 136   0  32   1   0   3  10   0  0  .513  .635 1.148 *7        
   11 Max Carey            .343   1925  35 PIT NL 133 620 542 109 186 39 13  5  44  66   0  19   4   8   0   0  46 11  .418  .491  .909 *8        
   12 Honus Wagner         .339   1909  35 PIT NL 137 591 495  92 168 39 10  5 100  66   0   0   3  27   0   0  35  0  .420  .489  .909 *6/7      
   13 Jorge Posada         .338   2007  35 NYY AL 144 589 506  91 171 42  1 20  90  74   7  98   6   0   3  18   2  0  .426  .543  .969 *2/D3     
   14 Larry Walker         .338   2002  35 COL NL 136 553 477  95 161 40  4 26 104  65   6  73   7   0   4   8   6  5  .421  .602 1.023 *9/D      
   15 Kiki Cuyler          .338   1934  35 CHC NL 142 607 559  80 189 42  8  6  69  31   0  62   4  13   0  10  15  0  .377  .474  .851 *8/9      
   16 Chipper Jones        .337   2007  35 ATL NL 134 600 513 108 173 42  4 29 102  82  10  75   0   0   5  21   5  1  .425  .604 1.029 *5/D6     
   17 Mickey Vernon        .337   1953  35 WSH AL 152 679 608 101 205 43 11 15 115  63   0  57   4   4   0  15   4  6  .403  .518  .921 *3        
   18 George Van Haltre    .335   1901  35 NYG NL 135 605 543  82 182 23  6  1  47  51   0   0   4   7   0   0  24  0  .396  .405  .801 *8/1      
   19 Germany Schaefer     .334   1911  35 WSH AL 125 516 440  74 147 14  7  0  45  57   0   0   1  18   0   0  22  0  .412  .398  .810 *3/7      
   20 Heinie Manush        .333   1937  35 BRO NL 132 516 466  57 155 25  7  4  73  40   0  24   3   7   0   7   6  0  .389  .442  .831 *9        
   21 Harry Heilmann       .333   1930  35 CIN NL 142 539 459  79 153 43  6 19  91  64   0  50   1  15   0   0   2  0  .416  .577  .993 *93       
   22 Al Oliver            .331   1982  35 MON NL 160 687 617  90 204 43  2 22 109  61  15  59   4   1   4  11   5  2  .392  .514  .906 *3        
   23 Rogers Hornsby       .331   1931  35 CHC NL 100 418 357  64 118 37  1 16  90  56   0  23   0   5   0   0   1  0  .421  .574  .995 *45       
   24 George Sisler        .331   1928  35 TOT ML 138 588 540  72 179 27  4  4  70  31   0  17   2  15   0   0  11  1  .370  .419  .789 *3        
   25 George Harper        .331   1927  35 NYG NL 145 593 483  85 160 19  6 16  87  84   0  27   5  21   0   0   7  0  .435  .495  .930 *9        

Posada checks in at 13th best since 1901, and of course nobody else who played catcher (such a demaning position) is in his league. Interestingly, Larry (Chipper) Jones also made the list this year. The only other entries from the last 25 years are Tony Gwynn at #4, Larry Walker at #14, and Al Oliver at #22. For Posada, Jones, and Oliver, these performances were career highs. (I would be utterly shocked if Posada or Jones ever equals this year's BA again.)

Now here are the tops OPS+ performers in their Age 35 seasons, again among those who qualified for the batting title:

  Cnt Player            **OPS+** Year Age Tm  Lg  G   PA  AB  R   H  2B 3B HR RBI  BB IBB  SO HBP  SH  SF GDP  SB CS   BA   OBP   SLG   OPS  Positions
+----+-----------------+--------+----+---+---+--+---+---+---+---+---+--+--+--+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+--+-----+-----+-----+-----+---------+
    1 Babe Ruth            211   1930  35 NYY AL 145 676 518 150 186 28  9 49 153 136   0  61   1  21   0   0  10 10  .359  .493  .732 1.225 *97/1     
    2 Ted Williams         201   1954  35 BOS AL 117 526 386  93 133 23  1 29  89 136   0  32   1   0   3  10   0  0  .345  .513  .635 1.148 *7        
    3 Nap Lajoie           199   1910  35 CLE AL 159 677 591  94 227 51  7  4  76  60   0   0   5  21   0   0  26  0  .384  .445  .514  .959 *43       
    4 Barry Bonds          188   2000  35 SFG NL 143 607 480 129 147 28  4 49 106 117  22  77   3   0   7   6  11  3  .306  .440  .688 1.128 *7        
    5 Tris Speaker         182   1923  35 CLE AL 150 693 574 133 218 59 11 17 130  93   0  15   4  22   0   0   8  9  .380  .469  .610 1.079 *8        
    6 Mark McGwire         177   1999  35 STL NL 153 661 521 118 145 21  1 65 147 133  21 141   2   0   5  12   0  0  .278  .424  .697 1.121 *3        
    7 Hank Aaron           177   1969  35 ATL NL 147 639 547 100 164 30  3 44  97  87  19  47   2   0   3  14   9 10  .300  .396  .607 1.003 *9/3      
    8 Honus Wagner         176   1909  35 PIT NL 137 591 495  92 168 39 10  5 100  66   0   0   3  27   0   0  35  0  .339  .420  .489  .909 *6/7      
    9 Mel Ott              171   1944  35 NYG NL 120 494 399  91 115 16  4 26  82  90   0  47   3   2   0   3   2  0  .288  .423  .544  .967 *9/5      
   10 Ty Cobb              170   1922  35 DET AL 137 612 526  99 211 42 16  4  99  55   0  24   4  27   0   0   9 13  .401  .462  .565 1.027 *8/9      
   11 Chipper Jones        166   2007  35 ATL NL 134 600 513 108 173 42  4 29 102  82  10  75   0   0   5  21   5  1  .337  .425  .604 1.029 *5/D6     
   12 Hank Greenberg       163   1946  35 DET AL 142 604 523  91 145 29  5 44 127  80   0  88   0   1   0  17   5  1  .277  .373  .604  .977 *3        
   13 Lefty O'Doul         163   1932  35 BRO NL 148 657 595 120 219 32  8 21  90  50   0  20   7   5   0   0  11  0  .368  .423  .555  .978 *7        
   14 Rogers Hornsby       163   1931  35 CHC NL 100 418 357  64 118 37  1 16  90  56   0  23   0   5   0   0   1  0  .331  .421  .574  .995 *45       
   15 Jack Fournier        161   1925  35 BRO NL 145 649 545  99 191 21 16 22 130  86   0  39   8  10   0   0   4  6  .350  .446  .569 1.015 *3        
   16 Edgar Martinez       158   1998  35 SEA AL 154 672 556  86 179 46  1 29 102 106   4  96   3   0   7  13   1  1  .322  .429  .565  .994 *D/3      
   17 Dwight Evans         156   1987  35 BOS AL 154 657 541 109 165 37  2 34 123 106   6  98   3   0   7  10   4  6  .305  .417  .569  .986 *3*9/D    
   18 Johnny Mize          156   1948  35 NYG NL 152 658 560 110 162 26  4 40 125  94   0  37   4   0   0   7   4  0  .289  .395  .564  .959 *3        
   19 Jim Thome            155   2006  35 CHW AL 143 610 490 108 141 26  0 42 109 107  12 147   6   0   7   4   0  0  .288  .416  .598 1.014 *D/3      
   20 Jorge Posada         154   2007  35 NYY AL 144 589 506  91 171 42  1 20  90  74   7  98   6   0   3  18   2  0  .338  .426  .543  .969 *2/D3     
   21 Frank Robinson       153   1971  35 BAL AL 133 545 455  82 128 16  2 28  99  72  11  62   9   1   8  21   3  0  .281  .384  .510  .894 *93/7     
   22 Joe DiMaggio         151   1950  35 NYY AL 139 606 525 114 158 33 10 32 122  80   0  33   1   0   0  14   0  0  .301  .394  .585  .979 *8/3      
   23 Tommy Henrich        151   1948  35 NYY AL 146 673 588 138 181 42 14 25 100  76   0  42   4   5   0  14   2  3  .308  .391  .554  .945 *93/78    
   24 Larry Walker         150   2002  35 COL NL 136 553 477  95 161 40  4 26 104  65   6  73   7   0   4   8   6  5  .338  .421  .602 1.023 *9/D      
   25 Al Oliver            150   1982  35 MON NL 160 687 617  90 204 43  2 22 109  61  15  59   4   1   4  11   5  2  .331  .392  .514  .906 *3        

Posada checks in at #20, and Chipper is there as well at #11.

Let's get a little poll going here. Comment here and tell me what team you think Posada will end up with, and how many years his contract will be.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 31st, 2007 at 7:52 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.

19 Responses to “Best season by a 35-year-old (or why Jorge Posada is seeing dollar signs)”

  1. Yanks, 3 years

    Unrelated - look at Dewey Evans. Only three years after his huge 35-year-old season, his rapidly diminishing numbers (at the DH position, no less) got him kicked out of Boston

  2. AMusingFool Says:

    Given that only 20 catchers have ever qualified for the batting title at age 35, and only 9 have at age 36, giving him more than a year seems a bit foolish to me, despite how well he hit this year. That being said, I'd be pretty surprised if he ends up anywhere outside of NYC.

  3. Well, there's a big difference between what makes the most sense and what's likely to happen. Keep in mind that in the early/mid 1990s, we saw a lot of excellent-hitting catchers (Piazza, Pudge, Steinbach, Lopez, etc,) but in recent years the position has regressed closer to its more usual historical role: average, at best, hitters who are good defensive catchers. Look at the captain of the Red Sox. Yes he had some great offensive years early in the 2000s, but now he is at best an average hitter.
    That makes Posada's year all the more impressive. Of course, Joe Mauer's BA fell more than 50 points from 2006 to 2007. I would expect Posada's fall to be almost exactly the same, given that his career average is .277.

  4. I'll say 4 years with the Yankees

    I'm pretty sure Jorge will switch this year between catcher, first, and DH and then move permanently to 1B/DH after next year.

  5. What makes sense is not paying him too much or giving him too many years. Posada's BABIP in '07 was over 80 points above league average, and almost 70 points above his career average. Unless he REALLY figured something out, I'd say it was a lucky, outlying year for him. Mauer's year was quite similar but not even as drastic.

    I think what will happen is the Yankees will pay him way more than he's worth, and he'll take it.

  6. Perhaps they will, although somehow I doubt it. It's a major crossroads for the Yankees. They have the opportunity "get rid of" Posada, Rivera, and Pettitte this year, and Giambi after next year. That would radically change the makeup of the club, getting rid of a number of older, very highly-priced players. For the first time in a long time, they have a core of excellent young players, both in the field and on the mound. The free agent class this year is remarkably weak. Next year's (after the 2008 season) is much better.
    I say that with a first-year manager and George Steinbrenner no longer making the decisions, they will not re-sign those three guys unless they are 1-year deals only (which Pettitte's would necessarily be) nor will they sign any major free agents not with the team in 2007, except to one-year deals. If they make any big splash, I predict it will be in trades, for someone like Santana or Aramis Ramirez.
    The Yankees haven't dramatically overspent for older players for a couple of years now.

  7. That's true. It would be the better direction to go in. Yet, I can't see the fans being happy about letting go of a guy who just hit like .338.

    Do you think that a team will overpay him based on last year's numbers, or on the whole, will everyone be more cautious about his certain decline, due to both age and regression to the mean?

    The early rumor I heard was that they would offer 3yr/$40mil.

  8. "They" meaning the Yankees.

  9. Wow, that OPS+ list is virtually a ticket to the Hall of Fame.

    HOFers: Ruth, Williams, Lajoie, Speaker, Aaron, Wagner, Ott, Cobb, Greenbergm Hornsby, Mize, Robinson, DiMaggio.

    And then how about: Bonds, McGwire, Chipper Jones, Thome, Posada. They all have a great chance at getting into the Hall.

    And personally, I think O'Doul should be in the Hall.

    Then there's the marginal not-quite HOFers: Edgar Martinez, Dwight Evans, Larry Walker, Tommy Henrich and Al Oliver.

    Then there's Jack Fournier. If he had gotten to DH he would have been Edgar Martinez, and would then be a marginal not-quite HOFer.

  10. It will be interesting to see what kind of support Edgar gets for the HOF. He'll be eligible to be elected in 2010. Have there been many full-time DHs before him to be eligible?

    I never liked him much as a person, but it's tough not to like him as a player. From 1995 to 2000 (6 seasons) he never hit below .322...that is QUITE a peak. And barring two seasons he was injured (1993 and 1994), he hit over .300 for 10 straight years. Interesting, based on HOF standards (see his main B-R page) he is exactly 50.0. His HOF Monitor is 131.5, way above the 100 or so required.

    I say he gets in eventually. If the M's had gone to a World Series when he was there, he'd probably be a shoo-in.

  11. Based on those ridiculous offensive numbers, I would say E. Martinez has more of a shot than Posada. Personally, I rate him a lot higher even with the DH stigma.

    The only true full-time DH that's been eligible is Baines, right? I mean, as far as legitimate candidates go.

  12. Johnny Twisto Says:

    There haven't been many full-time DHs, period. I'd assume most players who simply do not have the skills to ever play the field don't manage to last long enough to have HOF-worthy careers. I always think of Baines as a full-time DH, but he played over 1000 games in the OF.

    A guy with a shot is David Ortiz. Doesn't have too many full-time seasons under his belt, but the few he has have been of very high quality. It could be tough to separate him from the glut of slugging 1B/DH over the past 10-15 seasons, but if he has another few years similar to his last few, then add in his playoff performance and perceived clutch ability, he has a shot, even as a DH.

    I don't think Edgar Martinez will make it soon. 20-40 years down the road, it's possible. He may deserve it, I'm not sure. There are a lot of conflicting opinions on the value of a DH. Should any fielder, no matter how bad, get defensive credit over the DH? How much does it limit a team, or how much did it limit the Mariners specifically, to have no flexibility to use the DH to rest others? I doubt most voters will consider such questions in more than a superficial manner.

  13. True Johnny. Another thing that goes against Edgar is that he was as slow as dirt. Obviously speed is just one facet of the game, but it's kind of hard to believe that a guy with a .418 career OBP didn't score a lot more runs. He's 22nd all-time in OBP (wow!) and just 152nd all-time in runs scored. He's tied for 104th all-time in GIDP, by the way.

  14. Hey, I love Paul Molitor as much as the next guy. And I remember as a kid joking with my neighbor about how good Molitor would be if he just DHed all the time. But 1174 games at DH for Molitor's career? That's not Hall of Fame material to me. Edgar has 1412 at DH. Blech, as far as HOF goes.

    I realize why the AL installed the DH, but it is certainly not necessary anymore. I wish they'd get rid of it. I know the player's union won't let it happen. But they really should can it.

  15. Do you expect a guy like Ortiz to have another 5 or 6 great years in him, where he's able to push those all-important counting stats to typical HOF levels? I know he got a late start, but his by-age comparisons don't look promising.

    This is a little off topic, but do you find that the consensus among casual fans is that Ortiz had an off year in '07? When I talk to semi-knowledgable baseball fans, everyone seems to say he had a bad year, when in fact it's his best yet.

  16. It's tough to know what to expect with Ortiz. I think the only thing that happened this year was that his knee injury robbed him of a bit of his power, but otherwise his hitting was an excellent as ever, and basically his usual homers got converted into doubles. Hit hitting with RISP, etc, were all at top-notch levels and I say he had a fantastic year. Interestingly, I've seen a number of Boston-area media reports saying that he lost his ability to hit in the clutch this year, but those folks are basically measuring that by game-winning (i.e. walk-off homers), forgetting that A) Ortiz cannot manufacture those situations and B) in recent years he's hit exceptionally well in those cases, homering on something like 75% of all cases. He came back to earth a bit and had fewer opportunities, and in any event it's a totally stupid statistic to track or measure someone by. And yet, a lot of the Boston media do it. They, mainly due to the fans not being so smart, are really not so smart.

  17. I meant to say...a lot of Ortiz' success in Boston has been due to Manny Ramirez hitting behind him. Ramirez was amazingly productive and consistent until this year, and that helped a lot. If Ramirez' decline has already started, that will hurt Ortiz unless they get someone like A-rod to hit behind him. With A-rod hitting behind him, Ortiz might hit 70 HR.

  18. Yeah Ortiz's doubles and HR totals flip-flopped this season. It doesn't matter to me, because all of his overall numbers were way up.

    Getting back to the original topic (sort of), let's talk about those Elias Player Rankings. I don't think they're good at all, and it's a shame that they have any bearing on the way the MLB works.

  19. I absolutely love Paul Molitor (in a platonic, baseball-stat kind of way) but I am surprised how easily he made the HOF. I think he really flew under my radar, probably being stuck in Milwaukee for most of his career. But when you look at the numbers, it all makes sense. Here are some of his all-time ranks: ninth in hits, 18th in runs, 11th in doubles, 22nd in total bases, 13th in power-speed number.
    Geez, the guy is top 10 all time in hits. Obviously he should have been (and was) a first-ballot HOFer.