There is no question that the MLB has an immense amount of talent in the league. Players have been able to accomplish so much in the league, but consistency is a neccesity for overall greatness. In a lot of cases, many players come into the league and have an immense amount of success, but quickly fall off as they age. However, with others, it can take them years to find a job, but then go out and have spectacular careers when they are older. Whatever the case may be, it is absolutely clear that it is extremely difficult to be successful in the league. However, with tremendous effort and persistence, it can happen.
With all that has been stated thus far, we will be looking at ten players who became weaker with age and ten who grew stronger. It is very important to note that each player on this list would go on to have very solid careers in their primes. However, the time range in which their prime years would present themselves would come at different times. At the end of the day, it is very intriguing to see the journey that these players went through. Even if players got weaker with age, it is essential to praise the success that they were able to have in their younger days. The MLB is extremely challenging to thrive in, as the vast majority of people never even come close to making it.
Nevertheless, let’s look at these players!
20 Weaker: Joe Mauer
Joe Mauer just announced his retirement and he will go down as one of the best catchers of all-time. However, even with this being the case, it is absolutely clear that age did not end up doing wonders for the veteran. In fact, his play would drop off pretty dramatically.
Now, that is not to say that Mauer was not a solid player in the concluding seasons of his career, but his statistics did drop off just a bit. He no longer was the over-.300 hitter that he previously was, and never was a threat to be an MVP again.
19 Stronger: Jamie Moyer
It took Jamie Moyer a long time to develop into a top-notch pitcher in the MLB. In fact, after having a very bad season in 1991, he would miss the entirety of the 1992 season. This would go on to put his career in jeopardy. However, he would turn it around.
As Moyer got older, he became one of the best pitchers in the entire league. His best season would be in 2003, where he would go on to have a 21-7 record and make his first all-star appearance. He would play in the MLB until he turned 49-years-old.
18 Weaker: Jacoby Ellsbury
Jacoby Ellsbury is currently a member of the New York Yankees, but it is absolutely clear that his time in the league is likely over. Ellsbury has been going through an immense amount of injuries and has never been the same player since joining the Yankees.
In Boston, Ellsbury was one of the top players in all of baseball because of his mixture of speed, contact, and power. His best season would come in 2011 when he hit 32 home runs and batted .321. However, he has never come close to those numbers and is no longer a star at all.
17 Stronger: Curt Schilling
Curt Schilling’s MLB career almost was over before it started because he struggled immensely in Baltimore and Houston. It seemed as if that he would never grow into his potential. However, after joining the Phillies, his career took a massive turn for the better.
As Schilling would get into his 30s, that was when he would become a legitimate all-star and would be one of the most clutch postseason pitchers in the history of the league. At the end of the day, it is awesome to see that he was able to develop into a star. Now he is on the cusp of being a potential Hall of Famer.
16 Weaker: Ryan Howard
When Ryan Howard entered the MLB, it seemed as if that he would become one of the greatest power hitters in the history of the league. He would go on to hit 58 home runs in his first full season in the league, and continued his success as the years would pass.
However, as he would age, his reliance on power would end up being his downfall. His inability to hit for contact would result in him dropping in his statistics pretty dramatically and he only would bat .196 in his final season in the league. He still had a wonderful career, but it could have been so much better if he aged well.
15 Stronger: Joe Nathan
Joe Nathan’s career seemed like it was going to end very quickly during his time with the San Francisco Giants. However, after being dealt to the Minnesota Twins, Nathan would develop into one of the best closers in the entire league extremely quickly. This would be massive for him.
Nathan is the prime example of a player who got to be far better as he aged. He would even be extremely talented during the final seasons of his career as well. At the end of the day, Nathan is one of the most underrated relief pitchers in the history of the entire league.
14 Weaker: Matt Cain
There is absolutely no question that Matt Cain played a huge role in the fact that the Giants would go on to win three World Series during the 2010s. In his prime years, Cain was one of the most effective pitchers in the entire MLB and got a lot of praise for that.
However, as Cain would begin to age, it became pretty clear that his skill diminished. His final three seasons in the MLB saw his ERA go over 5.00 each time, and he no longer had his grade-A stuff. This would result in Cain retiring from the league in 2017 at the age of 32-years-old.
13 Stronger: Jake Arrieta
Jake Arrieta is another player on this list that was basically wasting away with the Baltimore Orioles. He simply could not find his stuff and his career definitely appeared to be in jeopardy. However, after being traded to the Chicago Cubs in a minor deal, his career blossomed.
Arrieta would go on to become the ace of the team and played a massive role in their World Series win back in 2016. Today, Arrieta is still a top-notch pitcher in the league but is now the ace of the Phillies. The Orioles definitely wish they were more patient with him now.
12 Weaker: Roy Oswalt
Roy Oswalt was one of the best pitchers in the history of the Houston Astros. For a number of years, he was their top ace and he put up some truly spectacular numbers. However, his career would begin to fall off once he was off the team and got older.
Oswalt’s final two seasons in the MLB definitely showed the fact that he was a shadow of his former self. It became clear that age took a pretty huge toll on his velocity those years and as a result of this, his ERA skyrocketed. He would end up his career in Colorado with a 0-6 record and 8.63 ERA.
11 Stronger: Josh Hamilton
Josh Hamilton was the first overall pick in the 2001 MLB Draft by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. However, due to personal issues and an abundance of injuries, Hamilton’s career appeared over before he would even play a game. However, the Reds would give him a chance in 2007.
He would have a fairly solid season with the team before being traded to the Rangers. This is where Hamilton would soon become one of the best players in the entire league, as he had a lot of power and could hit for contact. He would even be the AL MVP during the 2010 season.
10 Weaker: Russell Martin
Russell Martin definitely deserves a lot of praise for all of the accomplishments in his career. For a pretty long time, he was one of the best catchers in the MLB. However, the last few seasons with the Blue Jays have shown that he is on the decline and his time in the league is nearing its completion.
Each season has seen Martin barely hit over the Mendoza line and his power numbers have fallen off as well. With the Blue Jays rebuilding, there have been reports that they are looking to deal him to a contender, but it is clear that it is going to be very challenging for them to do.
9 Stronger: Randy Johnson
Randy Johnson is easily one of the greatest pitchers in the history of the MLB, but it is important to note that it was not always the case. In fact, it took Johnson quite some time to develop into a star. However, once he made it to Seattle, he completely developed into a star.
Johnson would go on to have a Hall of Fame career, as he would finally learn to master his velocity. As time will continue to pass by for the veteran, he was still one of the bests in the league even in his 40s. At the end of the day, he is the prime example of a pitcher who never gave up even when many scouts already had.
8 Weaker: Barry Zito
When Barry Zito was in his prime with the Oakland A’s, he was one of the most dominant pitchers in the entire league. He would be a significant reason as to why the team would have a lot of success during the 2000s. However, with them being a low budget team, they had to let him go.
As soon as Zito signed with the Giants, his statistics instantly got far worse and he would never be the same pitcher again. His ERA would never be in the 3s again, and his worst season came in 2010 when he went 10-17 with a 5.15 ERA. He completely changed as a player as he got older and no longer was a star.
7 Stronger: Rich Hill
It took Rich Hill a long time to actually develop into a top-notch starter. His journey to become an everyday player took years, as he was unable to make it past the minors. However, when he signed with the Red Sox at age 30, this was where he would slowly develop his game.
The last few seasons with the Dodgers have been very solid ones for the veteran and it is likely that he will still be able to find another job next season. He has yet to slow down since he has found his game and with his curveball still being exceptional, he will likely be a top-notch pitcher for a handful more years.
6 Weaker: Andruw Jones
Andruw Jones was one of the most fearsome hitters in all of baseball during his prime years with the Atlanta Braves. This was a player who had the ability to hit a lot of home runs while also being an exceptional fielder as well. However, it would all come crashing down as he hit his 30s.
Jones simply lost his power touch and then the holes of his game began to become bigger. His inability to hit for contact would him expendable to every team that he would end up playing for at that point. Due to this, he would find himself out of the league entirely at age 35, after batting .197 with the Yankees.
5 Stronger: Nelson Cruz
Nelson Cruz is only getting better with age. After being a very solid player during the first half of his MLB career, Cruz’s power has gotten immensely better and now he is always a threat to hit at least 40 home runs per season. However, it is surprising to see that he is almost 40.
Cruz is going to be one of the most sought out free agents available and should end up getting a pretty expensive contract. He definitely has shown that his power is consistent, but he also still has the ability to hit for a decent average as well. At the end of the day, he truly has become a late-blooming star.
4 Weaker: Tim Lincecum
Tim Lincecum entered the MLB with a bang while as a member of the San Francisco Giants. The star youngster completely dominated the National League with his high velocity and excellent command. He would win two Cy Young awards in his first three seasons.
However, as he began to age, he quickly lost all of his success and his numbers completely fell off. He no longer was the All-Star that he once was and his ERA would go as high as 5.18. Today, Lincecum is still looking to make a comeback to the league, but it appears highly unlikely.
3 Stronger: Jose Bautista
It is fair to state that the beginning of Jose Bautista’s career was full of hardship. I mean, in his rookie season alone, he would go on to play for FOUR teams. This showed that not many teams were willing to take a chance on him. He would become a steady utility player on the Pirates from there.
However, once he joined the Blue Jays, Bautista became one of the most exciting players in all of baseball. His power numbers were through the roof and he soon became a star in the league. Although he came back down to earth the last two seasons, it is clear that his growth as a player in his 30s is truly remarkable.
2 Weaker: Albert Pujols
The first half of Albert Pujols’ career can go down as one of the best of all-time. He would go on to hit at least 30 home runs and .300 each season for a decade. However, as soon as he signed with the Los Angeles Angels, he just continued to fall off and was no longer the same player.
Today, Pujols’ contract is considered to be the worst in the entire league and his statistics have completely dropped off each year. It is clear that he will never be the star that he once was and this can easily be blamed on his old age. He is still going to the Hall of Fame, but one has to wonder what his numbers would have been if he stayed consistent.
1 Stronger: David Ortiz
Before David Ortiz became the face of the Boston Red Sox franchise, he was struggling to be an everyday player for the Twins. Ortiz had the potential, but he just could not seem to hit for contact and lacked power at that time. However, it would quickly change once he joined the Red Sox.
In Boston, Ortiz would soon become one of the best players in all of baseball and would go on to hit 483 home runs with the team by the end of his tenure. Besides this fact, he would also help lead the team to three World Series titles, as well as become the greatest DH in the history of the MLB.