Age and WAR (position players)

Note: I’ve added a 4th graph at the end of the post, covering only the years 1982-2011.

A couple of graphs relating bWAR/age, and OPS+/age. I’ll leave the observations to you folks.

(1) As a general followup to the graphs in my Ryan Zimmerman post, here’s a graph showing the number of seasons of four different WAR levels, for all position players, for the years 1901-2011:

(2) I thought it might be interesting to look at the career patterns of those with the longest careers. The next two graphs cover the top 200 players in Plate Appearances, for the years 1901-2011; they all had at least 8,225 PAs. First, bWAR:

(3) … and then, OPS+:

(4) This last graph covers only the years 1982-2011 and the top 200 players in PAs during that time. This angle grew out of comments by kzuke, who noticed a local peak at age 31 in the original graphs (and here it is again!), and Mike L., who described a pattern of difference between WAR-Avg. and WAR/700 PAs.

I originally thought to cover just the last 20 years — the you-know-what era — but realized I’d have to take in another decade to allow for the full aging process. Even so, I limited the ages to 22-37, since the years before and after would contain less than half the original 200 players. The fewest players covered by any age in this graph is 116 for age 27 and 126 for age 22.

This graph mixes two WAR lines (red and blue, pegged to the Y-axis on the left) and one OPS+ line (green, pegged to the Y-axis on the right). I included some data labels on the OPS+ line to emphasize the distinction. Lastly, note that all WAR averages in these graphs are based only on those who actually played at the given age.

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65 Comments on "Age and WAR (position players)"

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Dr. Doom
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GREAT stuff, JA. I’ve always wanted to see good graphs of this very thing. Here they are!

Timmy Pea
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I love these graphs!! Stats explained simply.

Mike L
Guest

Love the ratios between avg WAR and WAR/700 at the beginning and end of the age curve as compared to the middle ten years. Terrific visual-really great work

kzuke
Guest

That local peak at 31 again! We’ve seen that before haven’t we? You think this may be due to two sets of players: those who peak at 27 and those who peak at 31? It seems unlikely that the “Average” curve is that of a typical player.

topper009
Guest

It would be interesting to see a histogram with age vs peak season from the same group

Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

I propose that that peak at 31 is a product of the phenomenon of the Saturn Return. Here’s a tidy explanation (it’s an astrology thing):

http://astrology.about.com/od/advancedastrology/p/SaturnReturn.htm

So, it is not really a peak, but a return to full capability after the trials that occur at 29-30.

MikeD
Guest

The Weighted Average OPS+ shows what I’ve always suspected: 39 is the new 20.

Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

If 39 is the new 20 then for my birthday next month I’ll be expecting a keg in my shower stall, a pool table in my living room, a girlfriend who can roll joints with one hand and needs sex three times a day, no responsibilities before one in the afternoon, ankles and shoulders that fully rotate, and a shortstop named Spike with a 66 ops+.

bstar
Guest

If 39 is the new 20, then I just turned 25 today. Sounds a lot better than 44.

Luis Gomez
Guest

Then, that would make me a teenager again! Thanks, that made my day πŸ™‚

Jeff Allen
Guest

Hm, so that would make me 10. Crap, I gotta do middle school all over again?

MikeD
Guest

I suggest that all those things are good things but the last. I will take the last on my favorite team for much of the prior.

BryanM
Guest

John , BTW your first chart is 4 histograms; which are sometimes shown as Bars instead of curves, but they are counting instances of x by variations in y — an amazing bit of research just terrific. i can tell you from personal experience that 67 is the new 56, but i forget what the old 56 was.

Andy
Admin

I love the post and the graphs–don’t let my following flip comment give any impression otherwise:

Am I the only one who thought of Everybody Loves Raymond “Hank’N’Pat” upon seeing the title?

Jeff Allen
Guest

I thought of In ‘N’ Out, which immediately made me hungry.

BryanM
Guest
Speaking of peaking at age 27; I did a little study on on BRef looking at scoring ability by age. Number of seasons where a player has scored at least 40% of times on base (including roe) , ( min 300 PA) sort of a combined power-speed peaking, because both sluggers and speedsters tend to do well on this metric, Anyway, it’s never been done by a 40 year old; Andre Dawson was the only one to do it at 39, 17 times by 38 year olds ( most runs ; George Brett), 41 times by 37 year olds, led… Read more »
Mike L
Guest
John A., I’m looking at it a second time, and it really tells a great story of usage. The prodigy comes up and gets some playing time, looks like an impact player, and after a couple of years, starts to play full time, and the gap begins to narrow between WAR and WAR/700. As he gets more senior (mid twenties) his manager moves him up in the batting order so he gets more plate appearances per season, and the gap gets narrowest-and it stays there, even though his production begins to decline just a bit every year from 26-31. He… Read more »
BryanM
Guest

@38 — Just so, John – The very best have a business value off the field as well..

BryanM
Guest
I yield to nobody in admiration for Pujols, and obviously people who own baseball clubs are often astute businesspeople who can see commercial value off the field . The deal could certainly be a good one for the Angels, but it is odd that the best players often go from being underpaid relative to others ( Albert has never been in the top 15 the whole time he has been the best in the game) to being not very good value for money. i hope that doesn’t happen to Albert; he’s a great asset to the game
chestnut tree
Guest

You can certainly see your skills in the article
you write. The world hopes for even more passionate writers like you who aren’t
afraid to say how they believe. All the time go after your heart.

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