Talkin' about the age-33 falloff phenomenon (cont.)
Joe: This is off-topic -- and I know about 10 million books have been written on the subject -- but it's still astounds me that from 1951 through 1957, you had Duke Snider, Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays all playing center field in New York City. And in those seven years:
Mantle twice led the league in homers, won the Triple Crown, won two MVP awards, posted a 174 OPS+.
Mays led the league in triples three times, homers once, stolen bases twice, batting average once, won an MVP award and played center field defense as well or better than it had ever been played before.
Snider led the league in homers once, RBIs once and runs three times; should have won the MVP in 1955*; hit 257 homers in those seven years; and inspired a generation of fans in Brooklyn.
*Snider lost the MVP award to teammate Roy Campanella in 1955 by five points, but a writer had put Campanella in both the first slot and in the sixth slot on his ballot. (Some accounts have the writer putting Campy in the first and FIFTH spots, but it appears to be the sixth spot.) The writer was ill and could not clarify; had his ballot been thrown out, Snider would have won the award. Had Snider been given the sixth spot on that ballot, he would have shared the award with Campy.
Snider never hit with the same power after he moved out of the comfort of Brooklyn's Ebbett's Field, and he also faded quickly at age 33. And even though he put up comparable numbers to Mantle and Mays during those New York years, his late-career fade probably changed the perception about him. It took Snider 11 tries to get inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Bill: Continuing with Mickey Mantle ...
11) Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle
12) Bill White, slugging first baseman, later National League president
13) Rocky Colavito
14) Hall of Famer Al Kaline
15) Hall of Famer Orlando Cepeda
16) Hall of Famer Willie McCovey
17) Dick Allen
18) Hall of Famer George Brett
19) Hall of Famer Eddie Murray
20) Amos Otis
Joe: Well, I knew Amos Otis had to be coming -- seeing as he's your favorite player and all. He's a good example, too. Right up until he turned 33, Otis was an outstanding player, a rare TRUE five-tool guy. Ten years, 1970-79 (and remember, this was a decade dominated by pitching), he hit .300 twice and 18-plus homers four times, stole 30 or more bases four times, drove in 90 runs three times, scored 90 runs three times, played Gold Glove center field and (people forget this) made the throw that led to Pete Rose's famous collision with Ray Fosse in the All-Star Game. At 33, after his superhuman reflexes became merely great, he never could quite adjust -- and he never got 500 at-bats in a season after 32.
Bill: A few of these players did come back and have very good seasons after age 33. I don't think anyone I've listed here got all the way back to where he had once been (after age 33), but some players (such as George Brett and Eddie Murray) did snap back and have some good years after age 33 -- as A-Rod may, or Ortiz, or Lance Berkman.
Continuing on with my list:
21) George Foster
22) Andre Thornton
23) Greg Luzinski
24) Buddy Bell
25) Alan Trammell
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