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An Oldie but a Goodie

Posted by Andy on April 1, 2010

Jamie Moyer has been named the Phillies fifth starter and that gives him a very good shot at being the oldest player to start a game in a long time.

Here are the oldest players (age as of June 30th of that year) to start at least one game in a season since 1901:

Rk GS Year Age Tm
1 Satchel Paige 1 1965 58 KCA
2 Phil Niekro 26 1987 48 TOT
3 Jack Quinn 1 1931 47 BRO
4 Phil Niekro 32 1986 47 CLE
5 Jack Quinn 6 1930 46 PHA
6 Hod Lisenbee 3 1945 46 CIN
7 Satchel Paige 4 1953 46 SLB
8 Phil Niekro 33 1985 46 NYY
9 Tommy John 10 1989 46 NYY
10 Nolan Ryan 13 1993 46 TEX
11 Charlie Hough 21 1994 46 FLA
12 Jamie Moyer 25 2009 46 PHI
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 3/31/2010.

I took the list as far as Moyer himself last year. Assuming that Moyer does actually start a game this year (which now seems very likely barring an injury) he'll jump to the third oldest guy to start a game. Since he probably won't start in the first couple of weeks, he'll likely be about 47 years and 140 days old when he does start.

Check out the oldest pitchers in individual games (as with all box score searches these days, this is 1920-1939 and 1952-present). The full list is here. Moyer should slot in around #42 or so depending on exactly when he starts. If he sticks in the rotation for the whole season, he could place as high as 28th, as he'll be a bit older than Jack Quinn was in his 1931 start.

I got curious about possible matchups Moyer could have this season against other older starting pitchers. His best shots, Randy Johnson and John Smoltz, are not likely to pitch this year. (Johnson definitely not and Smoltz probably not.) There's a remote possibility Moyer could faceoff with 43-year-old Tim Wakefield. Other outside shots include Paul Byrd and Pedro Martinez. Too bad he's teammates with 38-year-old Jose Contreras.

14 Responses to “An Oldie but a Goodie”

  1. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Well, I'd say Contreras is definitely at least 40....he might be older than Moyer.

    Are all those 46s in order by date of birth, or does the PI just randomly mix them up?

  2. Andy Says:

    I don't know the answer to that. I think for season finders, players are assigned a single number (such as 46, as opposed to 46 and 100 days) since it depends which day of the season you're interested in to determine exact age. The game finder is obviously an easier way to get exact ages since it carries the full age in years and days.

  3. Devon & His 1982 Topps blog Says:

    Was Hod Lisenbee the last player born in the 1800's, to play in the majors? Curious.

  4. dale russo Says:

    Lisenbee was the last player born in the 1800's to play in the majors. He also had a great 1927 where he beat murderer's row 5 times in a row

  5. Djibouti Says:

    The Moyer stat I will be watching with interest is that he's only 9 gopher balls away from being the second pitcher ever to allow 500 HRs. 15 more HRs and he's got the all-time record. Considering he hasn't allowed less than 15 in any year since '95 it's looking good.

    Side note: I'm looking at Moyer's career stats and apparently he hasn't missed significant time in any season since '92. How does a starting pitcher in today's era go 16 years without a serious season-interrupting injury? Going back to '96 he's had 14 consecutive years with 20+ starts.
    Ok, time to finally get that play index subscription so I can look up how many pitchers have done that.

  6. Andy Says:

    I'm sure the Phillies wish that someone from another team would break that all-time HR allowed record. For those who do not know, Robin Roberts is the all-time leader:

    Rk Player HR
    1 Robin Roberts 505
    2 Jamie Moyer 491
    3 Fergie Jenkins 484
    4 Phil Niekro 482
    5 Don Sutton 472
    6 Frank Tanana 448
    7 Warren Spahn 434
    8 Bert Blyleven 430
    9 Steve Carlton 414
    10 Randy Johnson 411
    Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
    Generated 4/1/2010.

    Djibouti, I don't think the PI would help you find that seasonal-streak stat you are interested in, not directly at least. A seasonal streak finder is something I put on my wishlist (and by that, I mean onto a list that Sean requested for now possible features.) I have no idea if it's in the works or not. You could use the PI to at least find the most seasons with 20+ starts and then manually go through that list to find out who did it consecutively.

  7. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Djibouti, I'd guess that Moyer's inability to throw very hard helps preserve his arm. I don't have much knowledge of physiatry but from what I have read, cadaver testing indicates the human arm is only capable of a certain amount of force/torque before it is damaged. Pitchers who throw 95-100 mph are coming up against the upper limit of what the arm can endure. Although Moyer may be throwing the ball as hard as he can, it still doesn't stress his arm as much. I may be talking out of my ass but that's a theory.

  8. Andy Says:

    I certainly thought the same thing, JT.

  9. Andy Says:

    I mean that Moyer's avoided injury because he doesn't throw too hard, not that you were talking out of your ass. 🙂

  10. Rich Says:

    "Since he probably won't start in the first couple of weeks, he'll likely be about 47 years and 140 days old when he does start."

    He certainly will start in the first couple of weeks since Blanton is now on the DL

  11. Andy Says:

    Yeah, I noticed that too. When I wrote this post (early yesterday) the news hadn't broken about Blanton yet. It's possible the Phils might throw Kendrick in Blanton's place, on the off chance that Moyer is on some sort of throwing routine to prepare him for later in the season. Given Moyer's age and resiliency, however, I doubt it. He'll probably pitch the 3rd or 4th game of the season.

  12. DoubleDiamond Says:

    You posted the list just in time for P. Niekro's 71st birthday.

  13. dukeofflatbush Says:

    Some notes on Moyer:
    He is one of 15 to have over 100 GS after 40.
    He should become only the second pitcher to gain 100 W after 40. He is 6 shy. Neikro leads post 40 victories with 121.
    Of the 15 with 100 GS after 40; nine are 300 game winners.
    As far as the soft tossing Moyer extending his career because of less strain, Nolan Ryan, Roger Clemens and Randy Johnson all made over 100 post 40 starts and remained power pitchers till the end.
    Not only will Moyer more than likely pass Robin Roberts' infamous HR total, but he may pass Neikro's total of post 40 HRs as well.
    Moyer should pass Jack Quinn into second place in both post 40 Ws and post 40 IP.
    Justin Upton, Pablo Sandoval, Jay Bruce and approximately 50 other national league batters, were not born when Moyer threw his first pitch in '86.
    In 1993 both Moyer and Doc Gooden won 12 games. It was Gooden's 154 career win. For Moyer, 2 years older at 30, it was his 46th win. Gooden would win 40 more games, while Moyer would win over 210 and counting. Who would of thought that in '93?

  14. Rich Says:

    Speaking of Niekro, ESPN had him on, I want to say, two years ago. He was showing how to throw a knuckleball. It was easily the best segment I've seen on ESPN in years. He seemed like a very nice and pleasant man, and it was cool to see perhaps the best knuckler ever showing his technique.