9 Old Ballplayers Who Should Just Hang ‘Em Up
Every March, as baseball clubs truck their gear to Florida and Arizona for the start of spring training, a handful of old guys with bad knees are faced with a tough choice: keep going for one more year, or hang up the cleats for good?
Sometimes these guys take a good honest look at their stats and determine, correctly, that they’ve got one more year left in them. This applies to the 41-year-old Jim Thome, in camp with the Phillies this year, who has slowed down but still got on base at a .361 clip last season, which was 40 points above the league average.
Then there are other guys—like Pat Burrell, Mike Cameron, Craig Counsell, Orlando Cabrera, Jason Varitek and Jorge Posada—who do some soul searching and realize they’re out of gas. Sure, some of them 5probably should have come to this realization last spring, but at least they had to sense not to drag things out any longer.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of all aging stars. There are still of plethora of creaky old ballplayers out there who can’t seem to read the writing on the wall, even though most of them don’t even have a team to play for. So, today, Total Pro Sports brings you a list of these old ballplayers—the ones who should just have to courage to call it a career.
Maglio Ordonez has had one hell of a career (with a lifetime line of .309/.369/.502), even though he probably wasn’t ever fully appreciated. But the last two seasons, in which he was 36 and 37 years old, Maglio only got about 360 plate appearances (a full season usually yields around 600). Last year he hit .255/.303/.331, and his OPS+ was a terrible 74.* So it’s probably time for the 38-year-old to call it quits.
*OPS+ is just OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) compared to the rest of the league. 100 is the league average.
9. Maglio Ordonez
Renteria was a very good shortstop in his day, giving solid defense and substantial offensive contributions. But his last really good season was 2007 in Atlanta, when the 30-year-old hit .332/.390/.470. Last season with Cincinnati, the 34-year-old only got 333 plate appearances and hit a measly .251/.306/.348 with an OPS+ of only 78. So Edgar should probably take the fact that he’s still a free agent to mean his baseball days are over.
8. Edgar Renteria
J.D. Drew is probably the most frustrating player of his generation. His physical abilities give him practically unlimited potential, with scouts comparing him to guys like Mickey Mantle. But he’s never had the competitive drive of a champion and, consequently, he’s only had a few flashes of brilliance throughout his career. Last year with the Red Sox, at age 35, Drew hit just .222/.315/.302 in only 286 plate appearances.
So what’s the point, J.D.? Just hang 'em up, already.
7. J.D. Drew
Hideki Matsui, aka Godzilla, spent most of his prime years playing in Japan, only coming to America to play for the Yankees at age 29. Still, he put up some solid numbers up through 2010., Last year, however, in a full season (585 plate appearances) with Oakland, the 37-year-old hit .251/.321/.375 for a below average OPS+ of 92. So it would seem Matsui has finally hit the wall, no?
6. Hideki Matsui
Vlad the Impaler showed serious signs of decline with the Angels in 2009 at the age of 34—which is pretty much exactly when you would expect power-hitters to show signed of decline. Then he went to Texas, with their power-hitting fountain-of-youth ballpark, and had a rebound in 2010, smashing 29 HRs.
But last season with the Orioles, playing mostly in a regular ballpark again, Vlad’s true age (36) reappeared. He hit just .290/.317/.416 and had a league average OPS+ of 101. Looking at his trajectory in recent years, there’s just no way this guy can be effective this year unless he goes to a very hitter friendly ballpark.
5. Vladimir Guerrero
What’s that? No, it’s not a bench coach hitting grounders to the infielders at the Blue Jays camp. It’s 44-year-old (soon to be 45-year-old) Omar Vizquel.
The formerly great shortstop signed a minor league deal with the Jays in the offseason. He’s never been a threat with the bat, but his glove always made up for his lack of prowess at the plate. That has not been the case in recent years, though, as he’s been a below average defender past the age of 40...as you would expect.
The 11-time Gold Glover had said he wants to get into coaching one day. I say, why wait?
4. Omar Vizquel
Jamie Moyer is 49 years old. Everyone thought he was all finished in July of 2010 when an elbow injury ended his age 47 season. Now, after taking a whole year and a half to rehab, he’s back as a non-roster invitee to the Colorado Rockies camp. And while part of me hopes his new Tommy John elbow helps him make the team and surpass all reasonable expectations, there’s the more sensible part of me that just wants him to retire with dignity and not embarrass himself.
3. Jamie Moyer
The last time Manny Ramirez was really Manny Ramirez was 2008—the year he got traded from the Red Sox to the Dodgers. He finished that season with a line of .332/.430/.601, 37 HRs, and 121 RBIs. Since then, it’s been all down hill. Though his batting average and on-base percentage were pretty great during his first full year with the Dodgers (.290 and .418), his power started falling off big time. That’s probably why the goofball started doing steroids, for which he was caught and suspended 50 games in 2009, and then again last season.
This year, he’s signed a minor league deal with the Oakland A’s. Even if he makes the team, he’ll have to serve a 50 game suspension earned by last season’s steroids infraction. But ManRam is 39 years old. He can still get on base like nobody’s business, but that’s about all he offers. Why not just call it a career, and go hang out on the beach?
2. Manny Ramirez
Our #1 creaky old ballplayer who should just call hang 'em up is Mr. Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez. He was one of the best all-around catchers in the history of the game, having been a solid defender and a great hitter. But these days? Not so much. The last four seasons, his combined on-base percentage in .294. Last season, he batted just .218.
So, Pudge, you’re 40 years old. You had a Hall of Fame career. You’ve got a World Series Ring. Just call it quits and go play some golf, okay?