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  • MLB: Player Aging Patterns

    I am posting this as a new thread of its own, because I don't believe that such an interesting, valuable, and practical source of information as this should be relegated into a subordinate debate over any one player or limited group of players who may be seen to have violated norms for the topic.

    I am NO expert on this topic, just an informed fan who has read quite a bit of data on the subject. I do believe that the subject, for many reasons, may be a mother lode of information for players, coaches, scouts and numbers crunchers ... a mother lode of data sorting that may be seen as in its infancy.

    My default expert on this subject is Tom Tangotiger. When I cite his work here, I do not pretend to recite it, quote it, or parrot it. The last thing I want to do is put words into TT's mouth [and therfore, my foot into my own].

    Re-reading some of TT's work today, I came away with these impressions as reasonable conclusions to be made from a number of his articles [and responses to replies from those making comments]:

    1. It appears that player age patterns and expectations are related to the length of the player's career. In using a peak performance number as denominator for hitters, it would seem that players with much longer careers have extended ages at which seasons close to peak performance may be expected. I refer here to the model that takes players from age 21 and up, plotting their career maturing process, peak and aging process. A goodly number of players in that study have seasons above the ages 33 and 34 at which performance is 90% or better of absolute peak.

    2. In another portion of his work, TT alludes to the apparent revelation that players who exhibit early and maturing speed gifts above average tend to age more gradually [better?] than those lacking the illustrated speed attribute. There is some discussion on this matter; but the consensus seems to relate speed as a multi-faceted talent, which probably related to overall condition, conditioning disciplines, and overall player focus and awareness of every situation.

    3. I have personally noticed in each model that as players age their BB rates improve, even into years [ages] where some determine that a player must be in decline. I have also noticed that players' K rates rise, but at a slower rate, suggesting that a player with good BB skills early in the development stage who simultaneously manages to gradually reduce his K rates, will most assuredly exhibit that extended age
    bump toward peak which exhibits a decent number of examples ages 35 through 37.

    I doubt that serious study into this age progession science is more than 12-15 years old, therefore quite early in its own process and consistently gathering new and varied samples for crunching into the existing data base.

    Those intersted in pursuing this topic further, from an expert perspective, can access Tangotiger at his website.

    I access it via Google Search: Tangotiger: MLB aging patterns.
    Last edited by leewileyfan; 12-12-2012, 04:35 PM.

  • #2
    Interesting.

    You might find an occasional year where a player puts up a single "peak-like" season in his mid 30s or even beyond. I can think of Mays and Williams off hand, two players who missed time for service.

    One of the reasons this is more common in baseball is this.....and hope I'm explaining this clearly.

    Baseball is a skilled game. It is a game where more value comes from offense than defense, so as players age, teams are willing to deal with below average fielding. It is a game of bat vs ball, not players vs player in a physical sense.

    In sports like football, basketball, hockey, boxing, etc., where you're directly competing with your opponent, young talent can have a bigger impact, pushing aside older vets at an earlier age.

    This comes back to the elevator theory, and being 35 still playing center-field in a semi-pro league, I can attest to it being true. The athleticism elevator starts sky high. Trout and Harper are high as they're gonna get. As a players career progresses, that elevator begins to fall. At the same time, their experience elevator, which started at rock bottom is slowly rising. Experience covers so many areas in baseball. From how pitchers are working you, to knowing your strengths, to dealing with pressure, tendencies, etc.

    In any sport, a players "peak" generally comes when the elevators are close to each other and begin to pass each other in opposite directions. My point about baseball compared to other sports, is that when the physical elevator is at say, a 3 out of 10, you have a higher chance of performing brilliantly in flashes, because it is a player vs ball game.

    In a situation like, oh let's think of someone random....Bonds for instance. His experience elevator was literally Empire State Building high, while his physical elevator was about a 5/10. At the perfect moment, when that 5/10 would have been 4/10, then 3/10 in a few years, he reversed it, and went to 10/10 by taking PEDs. Couple that with him already being a top 20 all-time talent, you get the cartoon-ish numbers we saw. Not trying to turn this into a Bonds themed thread, he just happens to be a perfect example.

    For our own little examination, how bout we take the top 25 hitters as voted by Fever members, and look at their top 10 seasons in various offensive categories. We can look at what ages they performed best. My guess is, you'll find the "peak" to fall from 27-32 with some having the occasional "peak-like" year around age 24 or 25, and some after age 35.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Sultan_1895-1948 View Post
      Interesting.

      You might find an occasional year where a player puts up a single "peak-like" season in his mid 30s or even beyond..
      It’s not just all cut and dry. Everyone doesn’t follow some linear regression scale.

      Mike Schmidt played at maximum performance through age 37.

      From age 35-44 Nolan Ryan went 125-104 3.23 2088 innings and 2262 strikeouts (which by themselves would rank 49th all-time) and a whip of 1.155

      Steve Carlton was strikeout champ at age 35, 37, and 38.

      Randy Johnson won Cy Young awards at age 35, 36, 37, and 38 and CYA runner-up age 40.

      Hank Aaron from age 35-39 went .299/.396/.601 with an OPS+ of 168

      Hoyt Wilhelm from age 35 to 45 pitched in 576 games had a 2.18 era, a 162 ERA+, and a whip of 1.027

      Tommy John from ages 35-39 was 83-48

      These players performed exceptionally well, light years beyond a "single 'peak-like' season in his mid 30s or even beyond." Trends are not always predictors.
      This week's Giant

      #5 in games played as a Giant with 1721 , Bill Terry

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by JR Hart View Post
        It’s not just all cut and dry. Everyone doesn’t follow some linear regression scale.

        Mike Schmidt played at maximum performance through age 37.

        From age 35-44 Nolan Ryan went 125-104 3.23 2088 innings and 2262 strikeouts (which by themselves would rank 49th all-time) and a whip of 1.155

        Steve Carlton was strikeout champ at age 35, 37, and 38.

        Randy Johnson won Cy Young awards at age 35, 36, 37, and 38 and CYA runner-up age 40.

        Hank Aaron from age 35-39 went .299/.396/.601 with an OPS+ of 168

        Hoyt Wilhelm from age 35 to 45 pitched in 576 games had a 2.18 era, a 162 ERA+, and a whip of 1.027

        Tommy John from ages 35-39 was 83-48

        These players performed exceptionally well, light years beyond a "single 'peak-like' season in his mid 30s or even beyond." Trends are not always predictors.
        I never said everything is cut and dry, and that there aren't exceptions that prove the rule. You mentioned a handful of players out of over 100 years of baseball. Let's take a look......

        You mention Aaron, who is exactly the kind of player I was referring to in my post. He did go to the launching pad, but put up one season that was "peak level" at age 37. His highest OPS+ season. Check his age 25 line with that age 37 line.

        Schmidt actually had a steady decline. 1986 was a good year for him and in 1987 the ball change helped but overall nothing unusual.

        Carlton strikeout champ? LMAO Talk about pickin' a stat to suit your argument. Have you seen his ERA+ decline?

        Again, as I stated, baseball being the skilled game that it is, there is a higher chance of a "peak level" late age season. It's when two or more of those seasons come in a row, and outperform the actual peak level by an absurd margin, or even if one of those late age seasons outperform peak by.....


        31% OPS+ increase from peak high to decline high
        20% SA increase from peak high to decline high
        58% HR increase from peak high to decline high

        That's when something is rotten in Denmark.
        Last edited by Sultan_1895-1948; 12-12-2012, 08:57 PM.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by JR Hart View Post
          It’s not just all cut and dry. Everyone doesn’t follow some linear regression scale.

          Mike Schmidt played at maximum performance through age 37.

          From age 35-44 Nolan Ryan went 125-104 3.23 2088 innings and 2262 strikeouts (which by themselves would rank 49th all-time) and a whip of 1.155

          Steve Carlton was strikeout champ at age 35, 37, and 38.

          Randy Johnson won Cy Young awards at age 35, 36, 37, and 38 and CYA runner-up age 40.

          Hank Aaron from age 35-39 went .299/.396/.601 with an OPS+ of 168

          Hoyt Wilhelm from age 35 to 45 pitched in 576 games had a 2.18 era, a 162 ERA+, and a whip of 1.027

          Tommy John from ages 35-39 was 83-48

          These players performed exceptionally well, light years beyond a "single 'peak-like' season in his mid 30s or even beyond." Trends are not always predictors.
          Randy Johnson's success is certainly unusual, but besides him (and to a lesser extent Ryan), the rest performed well at an older age, but were not better than they were when they were younger.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Sultan_1895-1948 View Post

            You mention Aaron, who is exactly the kind of player I was referring to in my post. He did go to the launching pad, but put up one season that was "peak level" at age 37. His highest OPS+ season. Check his age 25 line with that age 37 line. .
            He was outstanding all the way to 1973 and did not have the linear decline that you think that you can predict. You ability to stretch stats to fit your theories is amazing, but inaccurate

            Originally posted by Sultan_1895-1948 View Post
            Schmidt actually had a steady decline. 1986 was a good year for him and in 1987 the ball change helped but overall nothing unusual.

            .
            You are just flat out wrong here. Schmidt was outstanding all through 87. He didn't didn't have your linear decline.

            Originally posted by Sultan_1895-1948 View Post
            Carlton strikeout champ? LMAO Talk about pickin' a stat to suit your argument. Have you seen his ERA+ decline?
            .
            You pick one stat, I pick one stat
            OK Let's look at Carlton from 80-83, Age 35-38 W/L 74-40 .652 50 CG (but he's old!), 2.77 era, so/9 8.6 whip 1.162 ERA+136 . Looks like your linear regression theory fails again. I challenge you to find ANY other 4 year peak in his career that beat that line.
            Last edited by JR Hart; 12-12-2012, 10:15 PM.
            This week's Giant

            #5 in games played as a Giant with 1721 , Bill Terry

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by fenrir View Post
              Randy Johnson's success is certainly unusual, but besides him (and to a lesser extent Ryan), the rest performed well at an older age, but were not better than they were when they were younger.
              Not better, but certainly not the predicted linear decline that is suggested here as inevitable. These players were outstanding consistanly all until about 40 or well past. Which goes to show that predicting a decline is inacurate.
              This week's Giant

              #5 in games played as a Giant with 1721 , Bill Terry

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by JR Hart View Post
                blah blah
                You accuse me of harboring some "linear decline" theory, when I showed my Bonds projections were anything but. So maybe you should re-think your attack plan big guy

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by JR Hart View Post
                  Not better, but certainly not the predicted linear decline that is suggested here as inevitable. These players were outstanding consistanly all until about 40 or well past. Which goes to show that predicting a decline is inacurate.
                  Actually they weren't. You need to go to reading school apparently. The ENTIRE POINT of my initial post, was that in baseball, unlike all other physical contact sports, a late career "peak-like" season is more likely. Wow, you continue to amaze. At least your consistent.

                  And who brought up pitchers btw? Oh you did. That's an entirely different discussion from hitters but I wouldn't expect you to understand the difference.
                  Last edited by Sultan_1895-1948; 12-12-2012, 10:22 PM.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Sultan_1895-1948 View Post
                    You accuse me of harboring some "linear decline" theory, when I showed my Bonds projections were anything but. So maybe you should re-think your attack plan big guy
                    In other words, you write something, I refute it, and you resort to personal attack. That's because I'm right about Carlton, Aaron, and Schmidt (and my other examples). You need to learn the difference between theories, projections, and truths. And you should debate like a man. I was simply disagreeing with you.

                    Bonds wasn't mentioned by me, but there are big holes in your Bonds predictions. You discount his developmental phase (and even deny it's existance), and you think that every player's career must go on this linear path. You don't see that they don't get to your so called decline point on the same path. You couldn't predict a decline for Sandy Koufax by using his career numbers either. I know that doesn't fit your way of thinking, but again that's why it's not all so cut and dry.
                    This week's Giant

                    #5 in games played as a Giant with 1721 , Bill Terry

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by JR Hart View Post


                      He didn't didn't have your linear decline.
                      Originally posted by ME
                      My point about baseball compared to other sports, is that when the physical elevator is at say, a 3 out of 10, you have a higher chance of performing brilliantly in flashes, because it is a player vs ball game.
                      Oopsie....reading comprehension is 3 doors down

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Sultan_1895-1948 View Post
                        Actually they weren't. .

                        I posted the stats.
                        This week's Giant

                        #5 in games played as a Giant with 1721 , Bill Terry

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by JR Hart View Post
                          In other words, you write something, I refute it, and you resort to personal attack. That's because I'm right about Carlton, Aaron, and Schmidt (and my other examples). You need to learn the difference between theories, projections, and truths. And you should debate like a man. I was simply disagreeing with you.

                          Bonds wasn't mentioned by me, but there are big holes in your Bonds predictions. You discount his developmental phase (and even deny it's existance), and you think that every player's career must go on this linear path. You don't see that they don't get to your so called decline point on the same path. You couldn't predict a decline for Sandy Koufax by using his career numbers either. I know that doesn't fit your way of thinking, but again that's why it's not all so cut and dry.
                          Your use of the term developmental phase when it comes to Bonds' first few years is hilarious. You use that term to describe his ineptitude rather than coming to terms with what it really was. Shall we do that with other players too? Or just your favorite fraud?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Sultan_1895-1948 View Post
                            Actually they weren't. You need to go to reading school apparently. The ENTIRE POINT of my initial post, was that in baseball, unlike all other physical contact sports, a late career "peak-like" season is more likely. Wow, you continue to amaze. At least your consistent.
                            If I may, I'd like to suggest that I started this thread to expand the topic of player aging patterns [actually DISTILL the topic] with notes and observations from Tom Tangotiger's site, in the apparently failed hope that we might escape, for a moment, the "expert" pronouncements made by a few here who appear fixated on honing their own grinding axes and in select subjects of their chosing.

                            I also hoped to escape snottiness, like outlining remedial reading courses for posters not complying with the preferred age regression curriculum. Maybe we can still get there.

                            The intended point of the thread was to share data provided by a generally regarded expert in this study; so that interested parties might explore his observations [and those of others, by commentary] - all who apparently observe mathematical disciplines and allow that the science is young, and ever subject to updating and refinements as performance models morph and the game evolves each year.

                            Of course, everyone is entitled to an opinion and a Constitutional right to express it; but I hope we can do that on the topic, which is evolving, not concluded and deterministic, like dinosaur fossils. Heck, even dinosaur fossils are presently lending new data in resource discovery, development, refinement and byproduct development.

                            It ain't a closed book.
                            Last edited by leewileyfan; 12-12-2012, 10:42 PM.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              We'll wait for some other opinions. People who actually read my initial post and understand baseball.

                              You read it with Balco colored glasses, blind with denial. Bonds was AN EXTREME example of how the elevator theory was thrown out of whack but the post wasn't about Bonds. It was about baseball players in general compared to other sports and how they perform at late ages.

                              Let's see how others feel about the players you mentioned. There were no extreme single seasons well above and beyond any of their peak years, period. You point out Carlton's strikeouts and I'll point to his "normal" ERA+ decline. Which is more telling? Do historians rate pitchers by strikeouts all of a sudden, or did you pick because it's all you had to grasp? Thought so.

                              Comment

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