Top 5 Seasons For MLB Hitters Over 40-Years-Old
Image courtesy of © Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY SportsTo be clear, Cruz is going to have to put himself into elite company if he wants to crack into this top-5 list. Every name below is a member of the Hall of Fame and some of the players are considered among the best to every play the game.
5. Sam Rice, 1930 (Age-40)
4.6 WAR, .349/.407/.457, 1 HR, 73 RBI, 123 wRC+
In a weird way, the Twins can claim Rice since he was a member of the Washington Senators and that franchise would eventually move to Minnesota. The 1930 campaign saw Rice compile a career high WAR, which is pretty crazy to consider it was 16th year. Few home runs were hit during Rice’s playing career, but he scored a career high 121 runs. He’d play through his age 44 season, but the 1930 season was his last where he played more than 120 games.
4. Carlton Fisk, 1990 (Age-42)
5.0 WAR, .285/.378/.451, 18 HR, 65 RBI, 133 wRC+
Fisk would play until his age-45 season and he made his last All-Star team as a 43-year-old, when he played over 100 games for the final time. In 1990, he posted a batting average of over .285 for only the second time since the late 1970s. His entire slash line was higher than his career marks with the exception of his slugging percentage. Over his final six seasons, he averaged less than 90 games player per year. Twins fans can hope for Cruz to be better than his career marks this year, but it’s also critical for him to play more than 90 games.
3. Luke Appling, 1949 (Age-42)
5.2 WAR, .301/.439/.394, 5 HR, 82 RBI, 130 wRC+
In 1949, Appling was four seasons removed from a missed year and a half due to military service. He put together a tremendous season, but he’d only manage to play 50 games in 1950 before retiring. His batting average was nine points lower than his career mark but his on-base percentage was 40 points higher. It was one of his best defensive seasons as the White Sox continued to trot him out to play shortstop and third base. His single digit home runs might stand out to some fans, but he never had a season with double-digit home runs. His career high in longballs came in his age-40 season when he ended the year with 8 homers.
2. Honus Wagner, 1915 (Age-41)
5.5 WAR, .274./.325/.422, 6 HR, 78 RBI, 125 wRC+
Wagner is an interesting case because he was still providing solid defensive value in his age-41 season. Granted defensive metrics were all but non-existent before the 2000s, but he was still playing multiple defensive positions including shortstop. All of Wagner’s slash line was lower than his career totals, but it’s hard to match those marks when you are a .328/.391/.467 hitter. It was his last season where he’d play over 150 games and it was his last season with a positive defensive value.
1. Willie Mays, 1971 (Age-40)
5.9 WAR, .271/.425/.482, 18 HR, 61 RBI, 157 wRC+
It’s fitting that arguably the greatest all-around player in baseball history tops this list. His last full season in a Giants uniform saw some memorable feats. He’d lead the National League in walks for the only time in his career. What’s more amazing is that he had never had more than 82 walks in a season he set a career high with 112 free passes in 1971. All those walks helped him to post a career high .424 on-base percentage which also lead the National League. It was final season playing over 130 games and he’d be out of baseball after 1973.
One thing is clear by looking at this list and that is Cruz doesn’t have many years left at the big-league level. Do you think Cruz can do better than any of the players named above? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
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