Baseball’s age curve keeps skewing younger. At the height of the PED era, elite players routinely kept dominating well into their 30s and even occasionally their 40s, while peak age was late-20s. Today, those impressive aged performances are less common, and players are more likely to peak in the 22–26 range.
That can put today’s older teams at risk of delivering major disappointment. Sure enough, the four teams in baseball with the oldest position players this year—the Jays, A’s, Mets, and Braves—all range from bad to horrible. The fifth-oldest collection of position players? Your Detroit Tigers.
The Motor City Kitties have made strides over the past few years to supplement their veteran core with younger players. Still, the Tigers have leaned heavily on the trio of Miguel Cabrera, Ian Kinsler, and Victor Martinez during that time. All three have so far come up well short of typical performance levels. After a big 2016 campaign, the 38-year-old Martinez has dropped to .264/.325/.327 this year, with just one homer in 29 games. The 34-year-old Kinsler has followed a stellar season in which he bashed 28 homers and scored 113 times by hitting just .206/.330/.351. And while 34-year-old Miguel Cabrera’s numbers would make most players happy, his .273/.356/.468 effort would be his worst since all the way back in 2003, when Miggy was a 20-year-old rookie for the Marlins.
Again, it’s early. But if the Tigers fade toward the bottom of the AL Central this season, don’t be surprised if age is one of the biggest culprits.