On Tuesday night, I wrote about hitters that have had great seasons into their 40s. I decided to research this topic because last week, it was announced that Tom Brady is going to be on the cover of Madden 2018. He turns 40 on August 3; in his age-39 season, he threw 28 touchdowns and 2 picks—in 12 games—before winning his fifth Super Bowl. So, which baseball players were most like Brady? Yesterday was hitters; today, it's pitchers.
There have been far more pitchers than hitters that have performed well past 39. Like I mentioned in yesterday's post, there have been 20 4-WAR seasons from hitters 39 and older. That number climbs from 20 to 45 for pitchers. When I first saw that number, I instantly thought the list would be full of pitchers from the early 1900s. However, less than one third came before 1960 and 19 have come since 1990. Several pitchers made the list more than once:
- Curt Schilling (2006, 2007)
- Cy Young (1907, 1908)
- Dennis Martinez (1994, 1995)
- Jack Quinn (1923, 1924, 1927)
- Jamie Moyer (2002, 2003)
- John Smoltz (2006, 2007)
- Nolan Ryan (1987, 1989, 1991)
- Phil Niekro (1978, 1979, 1984)
- Randy Johnson (2004, 2005)
- Roger Clemens (2003, 2004, 2005)
- Tom Seaver (1984, 1985)
- Warren Spahn (1961, 1962, 1963)
Of those 45 seasons, here are my four favorite.
|Phil Niekro||39||1978||10||334.1 IP, 2.88 ERA|
Niekro is well-known for his knuckleball. That pitch allowed him to play much later into his life. Through his age-38 season, Niekro had amassed 178 wins. In his 40s, he picked up 140 more.
|Nolan Ryan||44||1991||5.2||2.91 ERA in 173 IP w/ 203 SO|
Here is a list of people that are 44 years-old right now: Eminem, Ben Affleck, Chris Webber, and David Blaine. Could any of them throw a no-hitter? Didn't think so.
|Randy Johnson||40||2004||8.5||290 SO in 245.2 IP|
In 2004, Barry Bonds was the story of baseball. He put up a 10.6 WAR. However, everyone forgets about Johnson. At 40, he threw 245 innings while giving up a 0.90 WHIP and 2.60 ERA. He became the oldest pitcher to throw a perfect game on May 18, 2004.
|Bartolo Colon||39||2013||5||2.65 ERA in 30 starts|
Colon is the most recent pitcher on this list. In fact, he is the only 40ish year-old to have a 4-WAR season in the last decade. In 30 starts for the Athletics, Colon threw three shutouts and had a 2.65 ERA. Lucky for us, there's a six-minute video of his 2013 highlights.