3.09.2006

Barry Not So Unique A Late Bloomer

A problem that a lot of fans miss is that Barry is not the only player to have such an unusual jump in homerun power in his late 30's. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, is that two players he is compared with were in this group.

Here's a player's AB/HR trend over his career, notice the big jump from when he was 35 to 39:

Age - AB/HR
20 - 36
21 - 22
22 - 23
23 - 14
24 - 20
25 - 16
26 - 15
27 - 18
28 - 13
29 - 14
30 - 24
31 - 18
32 - 14
33 - 15
34 - 21
35 - 12
36 - 14
37 - 11
38 - 13
39 - 11
40 - 17

Here's a player entering the phase of life when he should deteriorate, age 35, and previous to that he could manage a mid-teen rate on occassion, but then for 5 straight seasons, he not only is consistently hitting in the teens, he pushes it even higher than he's ever done it before, almost double the rate at age 37 and 39 relative to what he was doing in his early 20's.

Cheater? His name: Hank Aaron.

Darrell Evans and Ted Williams had similar spikes when they reached their late 30's. Of course, their spike was not as extreme as Barry Bonds, but neither were their workout regiment either nor were nutritional science as advanced either or even vitamin science. So do you point your finger at them too or do you acknowledge that there are players who have been blessed by their genetics to do well into their late 30's? And if so, do you acknowledge that it is plausible that Barry did it naturally, via extreme workouts he was documented to go through in Men's Health magazine?

Babe Ruth didn't have such a spike at a late age, but he was so good that even though he got a bit worse as he got older, he was able to hit in the low teens up to age 40, basically at the same rate as he was hitting from age 27-31, the so-called peak career years from most research on players' career peaks. So he was a freak too, in some ways, hitting HRs in his late 30's at about the same rate as he was during his "peak" years. Or was he a cheat as well, how could he hit as well at 40 as he could at 30?

These other players show that it is possible to end your career on a good note and do more there than you did when you were "at your peak". Barry is not alone in defying age or improving with age, his only proven sins are his problems with the press and his attainment of cherished statistical career marks.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

More data on this can be found in this thread from alt.sports.baseball.sf-giants from last September, comparing Aaron's and Bonds' home run frequency relative to the league from ages 35-39.

Fri Mar 10, 03:41:00 PM PST  
Blogger Larry said...

Barry said he used the cream & clear and thought they were flax seed.

Do you think Conte was mixing up a batch of flax just for Barry?

What color is the sky in your world Mr. Claven?

Fri Mar 10, 04:10:00 PM PST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Small math error: Hank Aaron was under 10 at age 39, his career best.

Ted Williams career best was his very very last year.

Old guys who can't add to the team by being on base or perhaps would rather walk than run go for the fences. Some of them are pretty good at it.

Fri Mar 10, 08:22:00 PM PST  

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