Today, I am 40. Last year at this time, I "celebrated" my Jeck Benny birthday Hall of Names style with a look at both an All-July 20 team and an All-Mick(ey) team.
This year, let's focus on the number. No, I'm not (quite) having a midlife freakout, and thanks to guys like Darrell Evans, Ty Cobb, Rickey Henderson, Warren Spahn and Roger Clemens, this day instead is all about celebrating the greatest Age-40 Seasons (for both hitters and pitchers) in the history of the Great Game. Yes, it's time to meet ...
40 Ways to Lead With Lumber
Apologies to our pitching friends for the batting-oriented "Top 40" team name
**indicates Hall of Famer
*indicates All-Star during age 40 season
C Carlton Fisk** (.277 in just 76 games with 1988 CHW)
1B Stan Musial** (.288/15/70 with 1961 STL)
2B Eddie Collins** (.336 in 95 games with 1927 PHA)
SS Luke Appling** (.306 for 1947 CHW)
3B Darrell Evans (.257/34/99 for 1987 DET; primarily 1B)
LF Rickey Henderson** (.315, 37 SB with 1999 NYM)
CF Ty Cobb** (.357, 22 SB with 1927 PHA)
RF Dave Winfield** (.290/26/108 for 1992 TOR)
DH Edgar Martinez* (.294/24/98 for 2003 SEA)
IF/OF Tony Phillips (.244/15/49, 11 SB with 1999 OAK)
OF/IF Davey Lopes (.284, 47 SB with 1985 CHC)
OF Willie Mays** (.271/18/61 with 1971 SFG)
DH/PH Harold Baines (.312/25/103 for 1999 BAL, CLE)
UTIL Deacon White (.298, 1888 Detroit Wolverines)
UTIL Jim O'Rourke (.295, 95 RBI with 1891 NYG)
RHSP Grover Cleveland Alexander** (21-10, 1927 STL)
LHSP Warren Spahn** (21-13 for 1961 MLN)
RHSP Phil Niekro** (21-20 for 1979 ATL)
LHSP Jamie Moyer* (21-7, 2003 SEA)
5SP-RH Cy Young** (21-15 for 1907 BOS)
CL-RH Doug Jones (6-6, 36 saves, 1996 MIL)
RH-SET Dennis Eckersley** (4-6, 29 saves, 1995 OAK)
LH-SET Woodie Fryman (7-4, 17 saves, 1980 MON)
RHRP Hoyt Wilhelm** (5-8, 21 saves, 1963 CHW)
LHRP Al "Cotton" Brazle (5-4, 8 saves, 1954 STL)
The :40 Liner ... Every player on the team except Brazle and Phillips made at least one All-Star team, though Seattle's Moyer and Martinez are the only two on the team who actually made it during their age 40 seasons -- and ironically, that was the only time Moyer ever made it ... Oh wait, two other M&M boys, Musial and Mays ,made it in their age-40 seasons, too -- but then, what didn't those two do? ... Five times, a starting pitcher has won at least 20 games in his age-40 season -- actually, exactly 21 wins in all five cases -- including two lefties and three righties, so it was pretty easy to pick a starting rotation; sorry, "Rocket," your 17-9 mark with the 2003 Yankees doesn't quite make the cut ...
Jones is the only age-40 pitcher to crack the 30-save barrier, so he gets to be the closer, though some managers might likely opt for Wilhelm or Eckersley in the ninth ... With Wilhelm and Niekro on board, arguably the two greatest knuckleball hurlers of all time bolster this staff's stamina .. That's right, Cy Young, he of the award-is-named-for-him hype, is the fifth starter on this team ... If Young gets bored waiting around for an every-fifth-day turn, the next five guys in line for the rotation, again three righties and two lefties, are Clemens, Tom Seaver, Randy Johnson, Eddie Plank and Rick Reuschel, so this team will be just fine either way ...
Cobb and Collins were age-40 teammates with the 1927 A's; Cobb played more, but Collins hit for a higher average, maybe due to to the former being about four and a half months older ... Evans played just seven games at 3B for the 1987 Tigers (remember them?), compared to 105 at 1B and 44 as a DH, but Paul Molitor never appeared at 3B for the 1997 Twins, while George Brett never even played the field at any position in 145 games as a DH for the 1993 Royals ... Honus Wagner hit just .252 in his age-40 season, the lowest average of his 21-year career that lasted until he was 43 ...
White played all nine positions in his career, but was
primarily a 3B and C; at age 40, he played all 125 of his games at the
hot corner ... So there is no natural catcher on the bench to back up
Fisk, but between White and O'Rourke, we'll be okay if an emergency
need for a second backstop arises ... Phillips played everywhere but P,
C and 1B for the 1999 A's and did everything but pitch and catch in his
career ... Johnny Cooney hit .319 for the 1941 Boston Braves, but is
perhaps more notable for pitching in about 150 games in the big leagues
in 10 seasons before age 30, then coming back as a full-time OF at the
age of 34 and playing another 10 seasons ... Cooney retired with a .286
career BA and a 3.82 career ERA.... Okay, so carrying both Baines and Martinez
on the roster, probably the two greatest "natural designated hitters"
to yet play the game, may be an extravagant luxury, but which one are
you going to cut? It's not even clear, based on age-40 season stats,
which one should start ...
So, Bauxites ... how can this team be better? And is there anyone playing his age-40 season in 2006 we should be watching to break through onto this roster?