Even in 2019, being old doesn't mean being bad. Some of MLB's top teams are among the oldest.
For SI’s MLB Power Rankings this week, we’re looking at age—specifically, the teams with the most of it. Sure, there’s plenty of (deserved) focus on the game’s youth movement, but what’s going on with the teams on the other end of the spectrum? Alongside our regular rankings here, we’re spotlighting the ten oldest teams in baseball. We’ll be using Baseball Gauge’s age rankings, weighted by plate appearances and innings pitched, rather than just roster spots. (To refresh with last week’s edition, click here, and for more on this format, go here.) Let’s rank, shall we?
30. Baltimore Orioles (17-39; Last Week: 30)
29. Miami Marlins (19-35; Last Week: 29)
28. Toronto Blue Jays (21-35; Last Week: 25)
27. San Francisco Giants (22-33; Last Week: 26)
Here’s the rare leaderboard with the Giants on top in 2019. Yes, they’re baseball’s oldest team, with an average age of 30.5—courtesy of the steady presence of Buster Posey, rotation anchors Madison Bumgarner and Jeff Samardzija, and a surprising resurgence from Pablo Sandoval, among other, ahem, mature players. It’s the age composition you’d expect from a team that isn’t exactly rebuilding and isn’t exactly doing anything else, either, which has landed them with the worst offense in the National League, and merely one of the worst pitching staffs.
26. Kansas City Royals (19-37; Last Week: 28)
25. Detroit Tigers (21-32; Last Week: 27)
24. Chicago White Sox (27-29; Last Week: 23)
23. Seattle Mariners (24-34; Last Week: 20)
22. Los Angeles Angels (26-29; Last Week: 22)
Well, Albert Pujols will do a lot to drag up a team’s average in this department. (If you’d like to feel really old, consider that baseball is now at the point where he’s not only the oldest player on pace to qualify for the batting title, but the oldest by two full years.) Unfortunately for the Angels, all this has done is ensure that they rank 25th out of 30 in first baseman WAR—which is the least of their problems when you consider the state of their pitching staff, with a rotation that’s even further down the list, in 27th.
21. Washington Nationals (24-32; Last Week: 24)
The Nationals’ outlook looks less bleak than it did a week ago, after winning five of their last six. But “less bleak” does not mean “not bleak,” and, well… it’s still pretty bleak. The one area that’s actually been looking good for them, however, is the one that grants them a spot on this list. Washington’s rotation is the second-oldest in baseball—the only pitcher under 30 is Patrick Corbin, and even he turns 30 in July—and it’s also among the strongest, the overall leader in both Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs WAR, and National League leader in strikeouts and home run prevention.
How’s Washington been this bad, then? The rotation is also near the top of the list for innings pitched, which tells you just about everything you need to know about the trustworthiness of their ‘pen (read: zero!) and a middling offense certainly isn’t doing enough to make up for that.
20. Cincinnati Reds (26-30; Last Week: 21)
19. Colorado Rockies (28-27; Last Week: 18)
18. New York Mets (27-28; Last Week: 19)
17. St. Louis Cardinals (27-28; Last Week: 15)
The Cardinals’ April (18-7) was the opposite of their May (8-18). They’ve seen their playoff odds get cut in half and then some, going from 68% to 30%. The result is a club that now looks almost aggressively average when viewed statistically as a collective—99 OPS+ for their offense, 96 ERA+ for their pitching, a hot stretch averaged with a cold one to leave a team that looks like the perfect embodiment of .500-ish, emphasis on -ish. Which is just about exactly how they work in terms of age, too, with Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina averaging out Jordan Hicks and Harrison Bader to get an average age of a few months shy of 30.
16. Pittsburgh Pirates (27-28; Last Week: 11)
15. Cleveland Indians (28-28; Last Week: 12)
14. Texas Rangers (27-27; Last Week: 16)
The Rangers have been almost ridiculously steady. They went 12-13 in April, 13-13 in May; they’ve never been more than five games over or under .500; they’ve never won or lost more than five in a row. This symmetry even extends to the fact that they have the exact same average age for their pitchers and hitters, down to the decimal point, the only team to do so: 29.8. In other words, they’re the platonic ideal of a third place team.
13. Arizona Diamondbacks (28-29; Last Week: 14)
The Diamondbacks have been better than their record would have you believe. Their +42 run differential is the third highest in the National League, second only to the Cubs and Dodgers. If you take out the sequencing and context of the team’s scoring, with something like FanGraphs’ BaseRuns, Arizona looks like it should be 31-26 (second place) rather than 28-29 (fourth place). A big part of that? Their oldest player, Zack Greinke, 35, who’s also their leader in Baseball-Reference WAR. Unfortunately for him and the rest of the Diamondbacks, though, their sequencing and context can’t be adjusted in the real world as easily as they can on a spreadsheet.
12. Oakland Athletics (29-27; Last Week: 17)
The A’s pitching staff is the oldest in the American League, which is what happens when a rotation is anchored by Mike Fiers and Brett Anderson, with the biggest chunk of relief innings going to Yusmeiro Petit. As the A’s have caught fire over the last two weeks, though, they’ve gotten the job done, with a 3.79 ERA, compared to their previously posted 4.23. Yet this is nothing compared to the renewed strength of their offense. A .876 OPS in those two weeks has been second in the American League only to the Twins, which has allowed the team to… well, maybe not fan the flames of their playoff hopes, but at the very least, it’s kept them from dying out completely.
11. San Diego Padres (29-27; Last Week: 13)
10. Boston Red Sox (29-27; Last Week: 7)
9. Milwaukee Brewers (32-25; Last Week: 8)
8. Atlanta Braves (30-26; Last Week: 10)
7. Philadelphia Phillies (33-23; Last Week: 9)
6. Chicago Cubs (31-23; Last Week: 6)
The Cubs’ pitchers are the oldest in baseball. With an average age of 32—compare to the youngest, the Padres, at 26—they effectively qualify as a group of senior citizen moundsmen. (Thank Cole Hamels and Jon Lester.) Think “veteran success” rather than “decaying core,” though: Chicago’s 3.91 ERA has been the third lowest in the National League, behind only the Dodgers and the Reds.
5. Los Angeles Dodgers (37-19; Last Week: 2)
4. New York Yankees (36-19 ; Last Week: 5)
The Yankees’ injury dilemma—796 cumulative days on the IL, more than double the average total!—has pushed them to fill roster spots with some unexpected players. (Hello, Mike Tauchman and Thairo Estrada.) Most of these have come from the farm, but even so, the club’s average age has remained among baseball’s most advanced, thanks in large part to a rotation anchored by J.A. Happ and C.C. Sabathia, while its record has, somehow, managed to remain among the strongest.
3. Tampa Bay Rays (35-19 ; Last Week: 4)
2. Minnesota Twins (37-18; Last Week: 3)
1. Houston Astros (37-20; Last Week: 1)
The Astros manage to hold onto their No. 1 spot for the third week in a row, if only barely: Minnesota’s best-in-baseball offense is hard to beat, but Houston’s pitching staff has the edge, and so does its performance in adjusted records like third-order wins and BaseRuns. The Astros are the oldest team in the American League, and the only one with an overall average age over 30, but they’re offering up a pretty excellent case for age as an asset, not a liability.