There have been a lot of excellent baseball players over the age of 35 throughout history and it’s still the case today. Pitcher Bartolo Colon of the Atlanta Braves is the oldest entering the 2017 season at 43 and will turn 44 on May 14. This list consists of the 20 oldest players currently in the Majors and ranks them from number 20 to number one. A few of these guys are household names and should end up in the Hall of Fame.
Perhaps it’s not a surprise that a dozen of the 20 oldest MLB players are pitchers. For some reason, pitchers often seem to improve with age and experience and there have been dozens of excellent older hurlers in the Majors over the years. There’s no doubt that some of these players are slowing down, but some of them are also still very effective and have the skills to play for another few seasons.
The players have been ranked by considering what they’ve accomplished so far in their careers and how effective they still are entering the 2017 MLB campaign. Most of them are signed for the season and currently in spring training. However, there are three or four who are still free agents and are hoping to soon sign on with a new club.
20 Marlon Byrd, 39
Marlon Byrd, is the 12th-oldest player on the list and he’s on it because he hasn’t officially retired from MLB as of yet. However, his career is basically over in the eyes of many as he’s currently serving a 162-game suspension for his second performance-enhancing-drugs violation. The 39-year-old outfielder with the Cleveland Indians was nailed with the ban last June 1st and will be eligible to play again this summer if he decides to comeback. Byrd has only himself to blame for leading off this list as the worst player due to his reliance on PEDs. It’s too bad, because the veteran of 11 different teams and 2010 All-Star is a decent player with a .275 career batting average and 710 RBI. Byrd was also suspended in June of 2012 for 50 games for PED use.
19 Chris Capuano, 38
Left-handed pitcher Chris Capuano’s career appears to be winding down after throwing just 24 innings with Milwaukee last season. The 38-year-old is the 13th-oldest player in the Majors, but is currently a free agent. He broke into the league in 2003 and has pitched with half a dozen teams since then. Capuano’s 77-92 for his career with a 4.38 ERA. His biggest claim to fame outside of baseball was appearing in the soap opera The Young and the Restless with a few teammates back in 2007. He also won a silver medal with USA in the 2001 World Cup of Baseball. Capuano’s known for his great pickoff move to first base and led the Majors with a dozen of them in the 2005 season. The finesse pitcher has undergone Tommy John surgery twice.
18 Chad Qualls, 38
Thirty-eight-year-old right-handed relief pitcher Chad Qualls of the Colorado Rockies will turn 39 on August 17th and is currently the 12th oldest player in the Majors. He debuted in 2004 with Houston and Colorado is his 10th club. Qualls is a solid, but not spectacular hurler with a 51-47 record, 74 saves and 3.86 ERA. This will be his second season with the Rockies. Qualls missed a significant chunk of the 2016 season with an injury and struggled at times. However, he’s confident that he’ll be able to nail down a spot on the team’s roster when the Rockies break from spring training. Qualls will never be confused with baseball’s best relievers, but he’s already put in 13 years in the Majors, with the 2017 season being a key one for his future.
17 Peter Moylan, 38
Right-handed reliever Peter Moylan is a bit different than most MLB pitchers since he hails from Australia and throws sidearm. He’s got some good heat though as he can whip his fastball in at about 95 miles per hour. He just turned 38 in December and is the 17th-oldest player in the Majors. Moylan is currently with the Kansas City organization. He debuted with Atlanta in 2006 and has also played with the Dodgers. Moylan is 24-9 with a 2.91 ERA in his career with four saves. His pro career actually kicked off with Minnesota in 1998, but he was released and returned Down Under to work as a salesman. Moylan didn’t quit though and he was invited to spring training in 2006 after starring for Australia in the World Baseball Classic that year.
16 Kyle Lohse, 38
Right-handed pitcher Kyle Lohse made his MLB debut back in 2001 with Minnesota and has also played with Cincinnati, Philadelphia, St. Louis, and Milwaukee. He pitched for Texas last season, but is now a free agent. Lohse is the 11th-oldest MLB player at the moment with his career highlight being a World Series win with the Cardinals back in 2011. He also led the NL in winning percentage in 2012 at 84.2 per cent with his 16-3 record. Lohse is 147-143 for his career with a 4.40 ERA, but struggled last year with just two starts and a 12.54 ERA. At his age and with the numbers he’s posted over the past couple of seasons, there’s a good chance the 38-year-old Lohse remains a free agent once the 2017 season gets underway.
15 Ryan Vogelsong, 39
Right-handed pitcher Ryan Vogelsong broke into the league with San Francisco in 2000, has played with three different MLB teams and also had a stint in Japan from 2007 to 2009. He played with the Pittsburgh Pirates last season and signed on with the Minnesota Twins in January. Vogelsong will turn 40 on July 22nd and is the ninth-oldest MLB player at the moment. He may not have the best record or ERA at 61-75 and 4.48, but Vogelsong helped the Giants win a pair of World Series titles in 2012 and 2014. He was also an All-Star in the 2011 campaign. Vogelsong is also involved in the world of baseball off the field as well as he’s been listed as a part-owner of the popular Marucci Bat Company ever since 2004.
14 Jason Grilli, 40
The fifth-oldest Major Leaguer is 40-year-old Toronto Blue Jay right-handed reliever Jason Grilli. The 2013 All-Star is a 17-year veteran who’s known for his fist-pumping enthusiasm on the mound. The Blue Jays are his ninth team and he fit in well with Toronto after joining them last May in a trade from Atlanta. Grilli helped the Jays reach the postseason by going 6-4 with a 3.64 ERA. He had 58 strikeouts in 42 innings and allowed a lone hit in five playoff outings. Grilli’s father Steve also played with Toronto back in 1979 so he feels at home there. Jays’ fans and management have taken to him and his option was picked up for2017. Grilli’s struck out 646 batters in 644.2 career regular-season innings and hasn’t really shown his age as of yet.
13 Joaquin Benoit, 39
Right-handed reliever Joaquin Benoit was effective for the Blue Jays last season after they acquired him from Seattle in July. He recorded his 1,000th career strikeout north of the border, but suffered a freak calf injury during a bench-clearing ball against the Yankees late in the season and missed the playoffs. He managed to throw in 25 games with Toronto though and had a sparkling 0.38 ERA. Benoit then signed a year-long deal with the Philadelphia Phillies in the offseason, his seventh different club in MLB. He’ll turn 40 on July 26th, making him the 10th-oldest Major Leaguer this year. Benoit broke into the league with Texas as a starter in 2001 and moved to the bullpen two years later. He owns the MLB record for the longest save at seven innings back in 2002.
12 A.J. Pierzynski, 40
Colourful catcher A.J. Pierzynski played with Atlanta last season and has played for seven different teams since his 1998 debut with Minnesota. He’s currently a free agent and the sixth-oldest Major Leaguer at the age of 40. Pierzynski carries a career .280 batting average with 2,043 hits to his name. He’s a two-time All-Star and won the World Series with the Chicago White Sox in 2005. He also took home a Silver Slugger Award for catchers in 2012 for his 27 homers and 77 RBI. Pierzynski is quite a character and has dabbled in the world of professional wrestling in the past. He was voted as the MLB’s most-hated player in a 2012 poll and owns the AL record for his 962 consecutive errorless chances. It’s about 50/50 whether Pierzynski signs with anyone soon.
11 Fernando Rodney, 39
Arizona Diamondbacks’ right-handed reliever Fernando Rodney will enter his 15th MLB season as the league’s seventh-oldest player as he just turned 39. Rodney has a decent 3.69 career ERA along with 261 saves and 759 strikeouts in 765.2 innings. Arizona is his seventh MLB stop after debuting with Detroit in 2002. He signed in the desert in the offseason after pitching in Miami last year. Rodney is known for celebrating saves by pretending to shoot an arrow into the sky. He’s a three-time All-Star, including last season and led the AL in saves with 48 in 2014, which set a franchise record for Seattle. He was also named the Comeback Player of the Year in the AL two years before that. Rodney’s always in great shape and will be Arizona’s closer this year.
10 R.A. Dickey, 42
Right-handed knuckleballer R.A. Dickey of the Atlanta Braves is still an effective pitcher when on his game. Dickey’s the third-oldest player in the Majors at 42 and signed with Atlanta after Toronto erred and left him off their 2016 postseason roster. Atlanta is his sixth club after breaking into the league in 2001. Dickey, an All-Star in 2012, also won the NL Cy Young Award that season and led the league in strikeouts. He’s a good fielder and won a Golden Glove for 2013. Dickey and Steven Wright of the Red Sox are MLB’s only primary knuckleballers left and Dickey’s the first knuckleballer to win a Cy Young. He’s a hit or miss pitcher. He once gave up six homers in a game and also went five straight games without allowing an earned run.
9 Carlos Ruiz, 38
Ranking as the 20th-oldest MLB player and the second-oldest catcher is Carlos Ruiz of the Seattle Mariners. He turned 38 on January 22nd and has been in the league since 2006. Ruiz played with Philadelphia from 2006 until being traded to the Dodgers in August of 2016. He was then dealt to Seattle at the end of last season. Wear and tear are taking their toll on Ruiz, but he’s enjoyed a fine career. He was the first catcher in NL history and the second in MLB to catch four no-hitters. Ruiz was an All-Star in 2012 and won a World Series in 2008. He was considered to be the heart and soul of the Phillies while there, but the career .266 hitter now appears to be playing out the remainder of his career as a backup.
8 Koji Uehara, 41
Japanese right-hander Koji Uehara is one of MLB’s best strikeout pitchers with a ratio of 10.7 K’s every nine innings and just 1.4 walks. In fact, his 7.9 strikeouts per walk ratio is the best ever in the history of the Majors for somebody who’s hurled over 100 innings. Uehara made is MLB debut in 2009 after pitching in his homeland for the first decade of his pro career. He’ll be 42 when the 2017 season starts, making him the fourth-oldest player in the Majors. Uehara took home the ALCS MVP Award in 2013 when he won the World Series with Boston. The 2014 All-Star is just 19-22 in MLB, but has a stellar 2.53 ERA with 93 saves and 522 strikeouts in 437.2 innings. The free agent reliever signed with the Cubs from Boston in December.
7 Chase Utley, 38
After turning 38 in December, Chase Utley is the 18th-oldest player and the oldest second baseman in the Majors right now. He’s still an effective player after debuting with Philadelphia in 2003 and heading to LA in 2015. Utley’s a six-time All-Star and four-time Silver Slugger Award winner who won the World Series in 2008. He’s known for his leadership qualities and is a fine all-round player with a .278 career batting average and 145 stolen bases. He’ll reach 1,000 RBI this season and should reach 2,000 hits in a couple more years. He holds the MLB record with seven World Series homers for a second baseman and his five homers in a postseason series is a mark he shares with Reggie Jackson. Utley’s also the third-oldest Major Leaguer to belt six hits in a game.
6 Jimmy Rollins, 38
When it comes to shortstops, Jimmy Rollins is the oldest at 38 and the 16th-oldest player in MLB. Rollins signed with San Francisco in December after playing 41 games with the Chicago White Sox in 2016. He was with Philadelphia from 2000 to 2014 before spending a year in with the Dodgers and last year with Chicago. He may be slowing, but he’s had quite a career. Rollins is a three-time All-Star, a Silver Slugger Award winner, a four-time Golden Glove winner and won the World Series in 2008. He led the NL in stolen bases in 2001 and is the all-time hits leader for the Phillies. Rollins could do it all with good power, speed, and average and if he can keep going he may reach 500 stolen bases, 3,000 hits and 1,000 RBI.
5 John Lackey, 38
Right-handed starter John Lackey won his third World Series ring last year when he helped the Cubs end their 108-year drought. He also won rings with the Angels and Red Sox. Lackey is the 15th-oldest Major Leaguer this year and will turn 39 on October 23rd. He has won two World Series-clinching games and was an All-Star in 2007 when he led the league in ERA. He missed the 2012 campaign due to surgery after giving up the most earned runs in the AL the year before. Surgery was obviously the right choice. As he’s won two titles since then. Lackey is a fierce and durable competitor who’s pitched a minimum of 200 innings on six occasions and won at least 10 games a year since 2003. Lackey enters 2017 at 176-135 with 2,145 strikeouts.
4 Bartolo Colon, 43
The oldest player in the Majors in 2017 will once again be right-handed pitcher Bartolo Colon, who will celebrate his 44th birthday on May 14th. ‘Big Sexy’ is a four-time All-Star who won the American League Cy Young Award with the Angels back in 2005 when he went 21-8 and led the league in wins. Colon, who’s known for his portly size, made history last season when he became the oldest player in MLB history to hit the first home run of his career. He was 42 years and 349 days old at the time. Colon is with his 10th team since debuting in 1997 as he left the Mets and signed with Atlanta last November. Colon’s record stands at 233-162 and with 11 more wins he’ll pass Juan Marchial as the Dominican Republic’s winningest pitcher.
3 Victor Martinez, 38
Victor Martinez, also known as V-Mart, is mainly the Detroit Tigers’ designated hitter, but has also played catcher and first base during his 14-year career. He turned 38 just before Christmas and enters the 2017 season as MLB’s 19th-oldest player. Martinez has also played with Cleveland and Boston, but missed the 2012 season in Detroit with a torn ACL after joining the club a year earlier. He’s a five-time All-Star and two-time Silver Slugger Award winner. Martinez is generally regarded as one of baseball’s best designated hitters and that can be seen in his career .301 batting average. He needs 64 more hits for 2,000 and 23 more RBI will give him 1,100. The switch hitter is still as good as ever at the plate and is signed until the end of the 2018 season.
2 Carlos Beltran, 39
Slugger Carlos Beltran left the Texas Rangers during the offseason and signed with the Houston Astros for a year. He’ll turn 40 shortly after the season starts and is the eighth-oldest player in MLB. Beltran was AL rookie of the year with Kansas City in 1999 and is a nine-time All-Star. He’s won three Gold Glove and two Silver Slugger Awards as an outfielder and also has great speed on the base paths. Beltran has been successful on 300 of 344 stealing attempts since 2000 for a ratio of 87 per cent, the most in MLB since the turn of the century with a minimum 250 attempts. The switch hitter is 383 hits away from 3,000 and his playoff stats are among the best ever including 11 for 11 in stolen bases. A possible future Hall of Famer.
1 Ichiro Suzuki, 43
Right-fielder Ichiro Suzuki of the Miami Marlins should go down in history as Japan’s greatest ever baseball player and one of the best ever, period. The 43-year-old future Hall of Famer is the second-oldest player in the Majors and holds the record for the most hits in professional baseball with over 4,300. He holds numerous MLB records and milestones including the single-season hits record at 262 as well as 10 straight 200-hit campaigns. Suzuki is a 10-time All-Star and Gold Glove winner who can do it all, hit, field, and steal bases. This was evident in his rookie-of-the-year season of 2001 when he led the AL in hitting and stolen bases and was named MVP. Suzuki enters 2017 with a .313 career average with 3,030 hits and 508 stolen bases. Suzuki is definitely one of a kind.