Home > Around the league > In Baseball, 30 is the New 40.

In Baseball, 30 is the New 40.

Let’s take a trip way back to 1998.

In this year, Kevin Brown was the league’s best pitcher, and would inevitably become Major League Baseball’s first $100 million player. He signed the record breaking 7 year contract at age 34.

Starting in the late 90’s up until the retirement of Barry Bonds, it was all too common for players to have their best years past 35.

We all know about Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, Roger Clemens and others who seemed to get better with age, players who’s numbers continued to get better well after their prime.

And what do they all have in common? You guessed it. But I’m not here to be accusatory, I’m just pointing out a change in the trend.

Now that baseball is clean(ish), players are finding it difficult to find work with many teams going for the youth movement. And if they have too much pride to back up a twenty-something starter, their best option may be to take a deep pay cut, play for a losing team, and hope to get traded to a contender.

Sometimes it leaves me scratching my head.

Capable players like Jon Garland (30), Jason Marquis (31) and Orlando Hudson (32) will all enter 2010 with their third team in as many seasons. They are all coming off one of the top three years of their careers.

photo from dallasobserver.com

Hank Blalock, who is only 29(!), couldn’t even make the Tampa Bay Rays’ roster after he signed a minor league deal with the team this spring. To be fair, he had suffered a few injuries in recent years, but he seemed to bounce back in 2009, and don’t forget that he was a staple in the Rangers’ offense for quite some time.

What does this mean? That baseball players are becoming humans again. They are aging much faster, and they getting more and more fragile.

Now that we’re past the era of performance enhancing drugs, very seldom will we see another player put together a string of MVP’s in their late 30’s. And as a result, contracts like Kevin Brown’s will be few and far between.

The true telling will come when the game’s current elite start to fade and when the league’s young phenoms reach their peaks in the coming years.

Categories: Around the league
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