View Full Version : Question about player age and the steroid era

01-28-2008, 11:11 AM
I'm only 20 now, so my experiences watching baseball are primarily from the past 8 years. I wonder how fan and management perception of player age has changed over the past 20-30 years in baseball. I know that, in basketball, players were considered to be in their prime in the age range of 27-31 or so, and after that things went downhill. Now, I would add 2-3 years to the end of that, making their prime more like 27-33/34 or so.

How has baseball changed in this respect? How much of this change could be attributed to PEDs? Players are playing well into their 40's, and guys in their early-mid 30's can command high salaried long term deals (like Thome). In no way am I accusing Thome of anything, before anyone jumps to that conclusion.

What age was the typical career major leaguer expected to retire before PED's?

01-28-2008, 12:12 PM
I'd never quite thought of it that way, but I'd be bummed if the guys I grew up watching in the early 70s had been juicers. Instead, my heroes were probably just degenerate alcoholics and gamblers. :cool:

But seriously, Morrissey's column today about how detractors exaggerate how old the Sox are got me to thinking about this. The points at which players are considered to be aging, aged, and washed-up have no doubt risen in the past 20-plus years. Look at how early Boston gave up on Fisk, who went on to play as many games here as he did there. I'm not pointing the finger at him, and at the same time, I'm not saying I've never wondered how he achieved longevity that was practically unheard-of at that position (especially for a guy who'd had major knee surgery). Either way, the early 30s just aren't considered old anymore, whether due to better conditioning, PEDs, or a combination of the two.

I don't know the exact numbers, but my sense is that it takes most players longer to reach the majors than it used to take. That's partly a reflection that careers are longer -- if you can reasonably hope a guy could play 'til his mid- to late-30s, you're going to avoid rushing him to the big leagues.

Another factor is the sheer amount of money these guys now make. A salary of millions compared to $100K or less in the old days (even adjusted for inflation) is a huge incentive to stay in shape. Or, again, to cheat. :dunno: