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Best White Sox performances from a player over 40

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  • Best White Sox performances from a player over 40

    In light of Tom Brady winning the Super Bowl at age 43, I was trying to think of some of the best White Sox seasons by someone over 40. I know Carlton Fisk had a couple of seasons with 3+ WAR when he was in his 40s. I think Tom Seaver had a good year in 1985 when he was 40. Charlie Hough maybe? Omar Vizquel was adequate in 2010. Are there any that I'm missing?

  • #2
    From 1963-8, Hoyt Wilhelm had multiple productive seasons out of the bullpen while in his 40's. Jerry Koosman won 11 games for the Sox in 1983 at the age of 40.
    Last edited by Chez; 02-08-2021, 11:14 AM.

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    • #3
      Tom Seaver and Carlton Fisk immediately come to mind. Seaver turned 40 before his last full season with the White Sox and was the team's best starting pitcher. Fisk showed up on a couple of MVP ballots when he was 42.

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      • #4
        I was surprised at how FEW players in their 40's the Sox have had during my lifetime. Paul Konerko's had two amazing seasons as an "old man", but I looked it up and it was at age 34 and age 35 (coincidentally, the age I am now and the age I will be turning this year). Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon were also in merely their mid 30's when they came back to the Sox as veteran back of the rotation starters.
        "Hope...may be indulged in by those who have abundant resources...but those who stake their all upon the venture see it in its true colors only after they are ruined."
        -- Thucydides

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        • #5
          As I am bored and have nothing else to do, I came up with a list of players that I could think of in their 40s with the Sox, they were surprisingly productive!
          • Red Faber
            • 1929, age 40: 13-13, 3.88 ERA with 234 IP and a 3.8 WAR
            • 1930, 41: 8-13, 4.21 ERA with 169 IP and a 2.2 WAR
            • 1931, 42: 10-14, 3.82 ERA with 184 IP and a 3.3 WAR
            • 1932, 43: 2-11, 3.74 ERA with 106 IP and a 1.2 WAR
            • 1933, 44: 3-4, 3.44 ERA with 86.1 IP and a 1.8 WAR
          • Ted Lyons
            • 1941, 40: 12-10, 3.70 ERA with 187.1 IP and a 2.4 WAR
            • 1942, 41: 14-16, 2.10 ERA (led the AL) with 180.1 IP and a 4.8 WAR
            • 1946, 45: 1-4, 2.32 ERA with 42.2 IP and a 0.6 WAR
          • Luke Appling
            • 1947, 40: .306/.386/.412 with a 4.7 WAR, finished 10th in MVP voting
            • 1948, 41: .314/.423/.354 with a 3.4 WAR
            • 1949, 42: .301/.439/.394 with a 5.1 WAR
            • 1950, 43: .234/.300/.320 with a 0.1 WAR
          • Hoyt Wilhelm
            • 1963, 40: 5-8, 2.64 ERA with 136.1 IP and a 2.3 WAR
            • 1964, 41: 12-9, 1.99 ERA with 131.1 IP a 2.8 WAR
            • 1965, 42: 7-7, 1.81 ERA with 144 IP and a 3.6 WAR
            • 1966, 43: 5-2, 1.66 ERA with 81.1 IP and a 2 WAR
            • 1967, 44: 8-3, 1.31 ERA with 89 IP and a 2.2 WAR
            • 1968, 45: 4-4, 1.73 ERA with 93.2 IP and a 2.3 WAR
          • Tom Seaver
            • 1985, 40: 16-11, 3.17 ERA with 238.2 IP and a 5 WAR
          • Carlton Fisk
            • 1988, 40: .277/.377/.542 with a 2.6 WAR in 76 games and won the Silver Slugger Award
            • 1989, 41: .293/.356/.475 with a 3.3 WAR
            • 1990, 42: .285/.378/.451 with a 4.9 WAR (also astounding to me is he somehow stole 7 bases that year)
            • 1991, 43: .241/.299/.413 with 1.9 WAR
            • 1992, 44: .229/.313/.309 with a 0.4 WAR
            • 1993, 45: .189/.228/.245 with -0.7 WAR
          • Charlie Hough
            • 1991, 43: 9-10, 4.02 ERA with 199.1 IP and a 1 WAR
            • 1992, 44: 7-12, 3.93 ERA with 176.1 IP and a 1.1 WAR
          • Omar Vizquel
            • 2010, 43: .276/.341/.331 with a 0.2 WAR
            • 2011, 44: .251/.287/.305 with a -0.4 WAR

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          • #6
            Originally posted by TDog View Post
            Tom Seaver and Carlton Fisk immediately come to mind. Seaver turned 40 before his last full season with the White Sox and was the team's best starting pitcher. Fisk showed up on a couple of MVP ballots when he was 42.
            I went through Charlie Hough's game log because I was thinking if Fisk ever caught him that would have had to set a record for oldest battery, but alas, it appears Fisk never did set up behind the plate with Hough on the mound.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by whitesox5187 View Post
              As I am bored and have nothing else to do, I came up with a list of players that I could think of in their 40s with the Sox, they were surprisingly productive!
              • Red Faber
                • 1929, age 40: 13-13, 3.88 ERA with 234 IP and a 3.8 WAR
                • 1930, 41: 8-13, 4.21 ERA with 169 IP and a 2.2 WAR
                • 1931, 42: 10-14, 3.82 ERA with 184 IP and a 3.3 WAR
                • 1932, 43: 2-11, 3.74 ERA with 106 IP and a 1.2 WAR
                • 1933, 44: 3-4, 3.44 ERA with 86.1 IP and a 1.8 WAR
              • Ted Lyons
                • 1941, 40: 12-10, 3.70 ERA with 187.1 IP and a 2.4 WAR
                • 1942, 41: 14-16, 2.10 ERA (led the AL) with 180.1 IP and a 4.8 WAR
                • 1946, 45: 1-4, 2.32 ERA with 42.2 IP and a 0.6 WAR
              • Luke Appling
                • 1947, 40: .306/.386/.412 with a 4.7 WAR, finished 10th in MVP voting
                • 1948, 41: .314/.423/.354 with a 3.4 WAR
                • 1949, 42: .301/.439/.394 with a 5.1 WAR
                • 1950, 43: .234/.300/.320 with a 0.1 WAR
              • Hoyt Wilhelm
                • 1963, 40: 5-8, 2.64 ERA with 136.1 IP and a 2.3 WAR
                • 1964, 41: 12-9, 1.99 ERA with 131.1 IP a 2.8 WAR
                • 1965, 42: 7-7, 1.81 ERA with 144 IP and a 3.6 WAR
                • 1966, 43: 5-2, 1.66 ERA with 81.1 IP and a 2 WAR
                • 1967, 44: 8-3, 1.31 ERA with 89 IP and a 2.2 WAR
                • 1968, 45: 4-4, 1.73 ERA with 93.2 IP and a 2.3 WAR
              • Tom Seaver
                • 1985, 40: 16-11, 3.17 ERA with 238.2 IP and a 5 WAR
              • Carlton Fisk
                • 1988, 40: .277/.377/.542 with a 2.6 WAR in 76 games and won the Silver Slugger Award
                • 1989, 41: .293/.356/.475 with a 3.3 WAR
                • 1990, 42: .285/.378/.451 with a 4.9 WAR (also astounding to me is he somehow stole 7 bases that year)
                • 1991, 43: .241/.299/.413 with 1.9 WAR
                • 1992, 44: .229/.313/.309 with a 0.4 WAR
                • 1993, 45: .189/.228/.245 with -0.7 WAR
              • Charlie Hough
                • 1991, 43: 9-10, 4.02 ERA with 199.1 IP and a 1 WAR
                • 1992, 44: 7-12, 3.93 ERA with 176.1 IP and a 1.1 WAR
              • Omar Vizquel
                • 2010, 43: .276/.341/.331 with a 0.2 WAR
                • 2011, 44: .251/.287/.305 with a -0.4 WAR
              That’s a hell of a list right there. Well done. Those Lyons (42 especially) and Fisk numbers probably take my vote.

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              • #8
                Luke Appling had three full seasons post-40 in which he hit over .300. But according to research into contracts for Hall of Famers, the White Sox never paid him as much as $20,000 for a season. Granted, you're talking about 1930s and 1940s dollars, but what baseball players, with a few exceptions, were earning in relation to the rest of America wasn't comparable to what it has been for awhile. You still have players today who continue to play baseball because they need the income, need to maintain a lifestyle (not implying decadence). As glamorous as a baseball career sounds to most of us, it involves a lot that most of us don't understand. Even the commitment to a season can be considered a personal commitment. I remember when Tom Seaver retired, he said he said that as much as he loved baseball, he looked forward to being able to go to the Kentucky Derby. Mark Buehrle, who retired at 36, said he didn't want to have the surgery that would have allowed him to pitch longer.

                It varies from player to player, but among the players I've seen playing into their late 30s and 40s, it seems more about loving the game, the competition than about the money. And because of the money, you have more baseball players getting into the game for the money without the love of the game. The White Sox even had a starting pitcher in a previous decade who said he would prefer to be on a beach than pitch in the postseason.

                At the same time, you have baseball teams selling youth movements -- sometimes to reduce payroll. Trading veterans, even popular veterans for prospects is far more accepted by fans than it used to be. Frank Thomas might have played with the Sox past his 40th birthday if not for the timing of his contract and the labor agreement in place at the time. He had just one solid season left in him after he left the Sox, but if had continued with the Sox in 2006, he may well have finished his career with them, although he didn't have much left when he was DHing in Oakland in 2008.

                There really isn't any one reason there are fewer White Sox players playing into their 40s. But I've read in this forum that Adam Eaton is washed up at 32, so maybe it's for the best.

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                • #9
                  Julio Franco, it is said, played until nearly age 50 because he believed that God wanted him to show the world that you can do anything if you take care of your body.
                  "Hope...may be indulged in by those who have abundant resources...but those who stake their all upon the venture see it in its true colors only after they are ruined."
                  -- Thucydides

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by whitesox5187 View Post

                    I went through Charlie Hough's game log because I was thinking if Fisk ever caught him that would have had to set a record for oldest battery, but alas, it appears Fisk never did set up behind the plate with Hough on the mound.
                    I'm guessing that at Fisk's age limiting his time behind the plate, at least incorporating more days off from catching, the Hough starts got a catcher who prepared for the knuckleballs.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by HomeFish View Post
                      Julio Franco, it is said, played until nearly age 50 because he believed that God wanted him to show the world that you can do anything if you take care of your body.
                      I know it wasn't that long ago that Franco was playing, but I think the game has changed enough that it would be almost impossible for a position player to keep playing much past 40. I guess we'll see how Nelson Cruz does this year. I could potentially see a pitcher putting together a couple of good seasons in their 40s though. Especially if there is ever another knuckleballer.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by whitesox5187 View Post

                        I know it wasn't that long ago that Franco was playing, but I think the game has changed enough that it would be almost impossible for a position player to keep playing much past 40. I guess we'll see how Nelson Cruz does this year. I could potentially see a pitcher putting together a couple of good seasons in their 40s though. Especially if there is ever another knuckleballer.
                        Nelson Cruz isn't a position player. The DH should be extending careers. Regardless, the game hasn't changed that much since David Ortiz appeared as a 40-year-old first baseman five years ago. There are surgeries that could prolong careers that didn't exist a few years ago. Most pitchers will lose velocity with age,and the smaller strike zone makes velocity more critical to effectiveness while limiting the effectiveness of knuckleball pitchers.

                        With the DH and 30 MLB teams, fewer Americans playing baseball and medical advances that don't involve PEDs, there should be more opportunities for players to be effective into their 40s. It's far from impossible for a player to have good seasons into his 40s. Whether players are willing to put in the work that Harold Baines did just be able to DH or whether teams are willing to pay veteran money when they could be paying per-arbitration-eligible salaries to get comparable production are more relevant questions.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by TDog View Post

                          Nelson Cruz isn't a position player. The DH should be extending careers. Regardless, the game hasn't changed that much since David Ortiz appeared as a 40-year-old first baseman five years ago. There are surgeries that could prolong careers that didn't exist a few years ago. Most pitchers will lose velocity with age,and the smaller strike zone makes velocity more critical to effectiveness while limiting the effectiveness of knuckleball pitchers.

                          With the DH and 30 MLB teams, fewer Americans playing baseball and medical advances that don't involve PEDs, there should be more opportunities for players to be effective into their 40s. It's far from impossible for a player to have good seasons into his 40s. Whether players are willing to put in the work that Harold Baines did just be able to DH or whether teams are willing to pay veteran money when they could be paying per-arbitration-eligible salaries to get comparable production are more relevant questions.
                          I guess by position player I meant "non-pitcher." There are a lot things that guys can do to extend their careers, certainly, but there does come a point where those fast-twitch muscles just don't fire the way they need to catch up to a 95+ mph fastball, I'm not sure at what age that happens exactly. With velocities increasing, I figure it would be harder and harder for older guys to hang around the way they used to as a hitter.

                          I figured it would be easier for a pitcher to transition into a finesse guy (not that it is easy, just that it is an easier transition for a pitcher compared to a hitter).

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by whitesox5187 View Post

                            I guess by position player I meant "non-pitcher." There are a lot things that guys can do to extend their careers, certainly, but there does come a point where those fast-twitch muscles just don't fire the way they need to catch up to a 95+ mph fastball, I'm not sure at what age that happens exactly. With velocities increasing, I figure it would be harder and harder for older guys to hang around the way they used to as a hitter.

                            I figured it would be easier for a pitcher to transition into a finesse guy (not that it is easy, just that it is an easier transition for a pitcher compared to a hitter).
                            Different players are affected differently by age, but in general, defense goes before offense. The ability to catch up to a 95-plus-mph fastball isn't necessarily age related. At the same time, there are more challenges today with converting from a hard-throwing pitcher to a finesse pitcher because pitchers have less strike zone to work with.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by TDog View Post

                              Different players are affected differently by age, but in general, defense goes before offense. The ability to catch up to a 95-plus-mph fastball isn't necessarily age related. At the same time, there are more challenges today with converting from a hard-throwing pitcher to a finesse pitcher because pitchers have less strike zone to work with.
                              Statistically speaking loss of fast twitch muscle response is one of the first signs of age related decline. This is true in all sports and life in general. While there are exceptions, in general, as players age the likelihood of making good contact on faster pitches goes down.
                              Riding Shotgun on the Sox Bandwagon since before there was an Internet...



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