How elite second basemen fared in their age 36 season

Now that Robinson Cano is in the fold for the Mets, it might be interesting to see how other elite second basemen have fared in their age 36 season. We’ll examine the records of the nine Hall of Fame second basemen who played the bulk of their careers after the second World War. Although all were inducted into the Hall as second sackers, a few were playing other positions by their age 36 year, and that will be noted. The first line of each entry will include year, team, games played and slash line for the age 36 season.

Jackie Robinson…1955 Brooklyn Dodgers, .256/.378/.363 in 105 games, mostly at 3B.
His production in 1955 was a drop from his age 35 season, 1954, when he slashed .311/.413/.505. His last season in MLB was 1956 when he rebounded a bit and finished 16th in MVP voting.

Red Schoendienst…1959 Milwaukee Braves, .000/.000/.000 in five games.
This season was an outlier, Schoendienst was diagnosed with tuberculosis and missed all but a fraction of the season and had just three PA. His age 35 season, 1958, was below his usual standards with a .262/.313/.328 line. Despite losing part of his lung he did go on to play through his age 40 season, mainly as a part-timer, even hitting around .300 for two of the seasons.

Nellie Fox…1964 Houston Colt .45s, 133 games, .265/.320/.319.
Fox, the four time hit leader in the AL for the White Sox, played out the string for one more season in 1965 for Houston playing 21 games.

Bill Mazeroski…retired after age 35 season.
The smooth-fielding Pittsburgh Pirate lifer played only 34 games in 1972 with just a .188/.217/.250 slashline. Mazeroski was hobbled by a back injury and called it quits before what would have been his age 36 season.

Joe Morgan…1980 Houston Astros, 141 games, .243/.367/.373.
Morgan hit his peak in the mid 70’s with two consecutive MVP seasons on the Big Red Machine WS winning teams. His production dropped off after 1977, but he did play all the way through 1984, mostly as a starter.

Rod Carew…1982 California Angels, 138 games mostly at 1B, .319/.396/.403.
Carew put up some excellent numbers in ‘82, and, defying father time, he was even better in his age 37 year with a .339/.409/.411 line. He finally called it quits after his age 39 season in 1985.

Ryne Sandberg… 1996 Cubs, 150 games (146 at 2B,) .244/.316/.444.
Sandberg took a sabbatical from playing and was listed as retired from June 1994 through the 1995 season. He returned to put up those respectable numbers in his age 36 season in ‘96 before retiring for good after 1997.

Craig Biggio…2002 Houston Astros, 145 games (142 at 2B,) .253/.330/.404.
Biggio put up decent numbers when he was 36, but it was a drop off from 2001 when he slashed .292/.382/.444. He continued to play and start for Houston all through his age 41 season in 2007 to complete his 20 year career.

Roberto Alomar…2004 D-Backs and White Sox, 56 games (41 at 2B,) .263/.321/.392
This was Alomar’s last year in MLB. In 2003 he split his season between the Mets and White Sox with a combined line of .258/.333/.349.

Looking at the age 36 production of these Hall of Famers, only Rod Carew had a really good season, and he was primarily a first baseman by this phase of his career. Also a surprising number (three) of the HOF second basemen played their age 36 season for Houston.

8 comments for “How elite second basemen fared in their age 36 season

  1. December 4, 2018 at 10:54 am

    Kent hit into his late 30’s iirc

    • John Fox
      December 4, 2018 at 12:26 pm

      Kent had a fine career but I did limit this evaluation to HOF second basemen as I said in the second sentence and Kent is not in the Hall, maybe he will get in someday.

  2. TJ
    December 4, 2018 at 5:12 pm

    Without doing very in depth detail review, I believe most of these elite 2b spent most of their AB playing other positions later in their career.

    Joe Morgan maybe the outlier and a beacon of hope. He racked up about 15 WAR at age 36+, and played mostly 2b with decent defensive metrics until very late. While Joe was smaller, both he and Cano have very powerful builds, and the Toy Cannon maintained that high level into his late 30s in the pre-juicing era, we think.

    • Mike Walczak
      December 4, 2018 at 7:57 pm

      Jimmy Wynn was the Toy Cannon.

      • TJ
        December 5, 2018 at 6:34 am

        Thanks, you are right. Old age blurs the memory of those guys. Morgan and Wynn were similar in that they weren’t the biggest guys but they had very powerful builds.

        • Mike Walczak
          December 5, 2018 at 9:35 am

          I loved Joe Morgan’s game. I remember that he had this tiny glove. He was awesome, one of my favorite non-Met players of all time.

  3. MattyMets
    December 4, 2018 at 9:16 pm

    Nice post, John. Not very promising.

    • John Fox
      December 4, 2018 at 10:41 pm

      Thanks Matty, a real good 36 year old second baseman is a rarity

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