Miggy at mid-career

This past season, Miguel Cabrera turned 30 and passed the 350 home run and 1200 RBI milestones, while maintaining a career OPS+ above 150. Only four other players have done the same.

Player HR RBI OPS+ WAR From To Age G PA AB R H 2B 3B BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1 Jimmie Foxx 429 1520 169 79.7 1925 1938 17-30 1710 7293 6116 1355 2049 346 102 1104 935 .335 .437 .635 1.073
2 Albert Pujols 408 1230 172 81.0 2001 2010 21-30 1558 6782 5733 1186 1900 426 15 914 646 .331 .426 .624 1.050
3 Mel Ott 369 1386 158 80.2 1926 1939 17-30 1864 7808 6544 1332 2061 359 63 1135 566 .315 .419 .558 .977
4 Hank Aaron 366 1216 157 80.0 1954 1964 20-30 1656 7216 6510 1180 2085 351 79 603 655 .320 .376 .567 .943
5 Miguel Cabrera 365 1260 154 54.7 2003 2013 20-30 1660 7126 6218 1064 1995 412 14 799 1201 .321 .399 .568 .967
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 12/2/2013.

After the jump, more on Cabrera and what might lie ahead for him.

If you’re wondering about the age 30 cutoff. only one other player (Frank Robinson) gets added if the criteria are extended to age 31. So, it is indeed an exclusive group.

Player HR RBI OPS+ WAR From To Age G PA AB R H 2B 3B BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1 Jimmie Foxx 464 1625 170 86.5 1925 1939 17-31 1834 7858 6583 1485 2217 377 112 1193 1007 .337 .439 .640 1.079
2 Albert Pujols 445 1329 170 86.4 2001 2011 21-31 1705 7433 6312 1291 2073 455 15 975 704 .328 .420 .617 1.037
3 Frank Robinson 403 1225 156 76.9 1956 1967 20-31 1786 7651 6582 1248 2004 375 59 856 963 .304 .392 .563 .955
4 Hank Aaron 398 1305 158 87.8 1954 1965 20-31 1806 7855 7080 1289 2266 391 80 663 736 .320 .376 .567 .943
5 Mel Ott 388 1465 157 85.4 1926 1940 17-31 2015 8455 7080 1421 2216 386 66 1235 616 .313 .418 .551 .969
6 Miguel Cabrera 365 1260 154 54.7 2003 2013 20-30 1660 7126 6218 1064 1995 412 14 799 1201 .321 .399 .568 .967
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 12/3/2013.

With Foxx and Ott flaming out relatively early, only Aaron turned in a second half of his career that really was close to half of his career (of 9 retired players to reach 300 home runs before their age 30 season, only Aaron also reached 300 home runs afterwards). That said, all of Cabrera’s predecessors in our study group turned in somewhat similar performances over their next 3 seasons.

Rk Player HR OPS+ From To Age G PA AB R H 2B 3B RBI BB SO SB CS BA OBP SLG OPS
1 Hank Aaron 115 157 1965 1967 31-33 463 1996 1773 339 533 100 5 325 199 274 62 13 .301 .368 .557 .925
2 Jimmie Foxx 90 159 1939 1941 31-33 403 1765 1469 323 467 88 22 329 283 262 10 15 .318 .429 .592 1.020
3 Albert Pujols 84 137 2011 2013 31-33 400 1764 1577 239 447 98 0 268 153 189 18 3 .283 .348 .505 .853
4 Mel Ott 76 150 1940 1942 31-33 451 1945 1610 296 467 77 3 262 309 179 17 .290 .408 .483 .891
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 12/2/2013.

It’s what happened after age 33 that separates Aaron from this group. Here are their performances, age 34-37.

Rk Player HR OPS+ From To Age G PA AB R H 2B 3B RBI BB SO SB CS BA OBP SLG OPS
1 Hank Aaron 158 168 1968 1971 34-37 596 2486 2164 382 654 111 11 419 296 230 47 16 .302 .385 .583 .968
2 Mel Ott 66 144 1943 1946 34-37 411 1591 1298 231 348 52 6 212 264 151 10 .268 .397 .470 .867
3 Jimmie Foxx 15 96 1942 1945 34-37 204 618 549 73 130 24 1 73 65 114 1 0 .237 .320 .366 .686
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 12/2/2013.

Both Cabrera and Pujols have started to show some infirmities. And, it’s hard not to suppose that the bulk both are carrying has something to do with that. Just for comparison, here is what the other 3 players in this group looked like around the same age.

Hank Aaron 1964Mel Ott 1941Jimmie Foxx 1938

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Those are images of Aaron and Foxx on cards published in their age 30 seasons (or identified with that season), and for Ott in his age 32 season. The left-to-right ordering of the photos also appears to be the players’ order in waist size. Aaron, in particular, looks like there’s hardly an ounce of fat on him (though it’s hard to be sure with the baggy uniforms, Ott’s physique was probably not so sleek as depicted by the illustrator, as evidenced by this photo of Ott flanked by teammates in spring training of Ott’s age 30 season).

Bill James’ career projection tool knows numbers (but not BMI). Here are its career home run projections after age 30 and age 33 seasons.

Rk Player Age 30 Age 33 Actual
1 Jimmie Foxx 692 642 534
2 Albert Pujols 665 603
3 Mel Ott 553 567 512
4 Hank Aaron 571 658 755
5 Miguel Cabrera 615
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 12/2/2013.

Finally, the same projections for other members of the 600 HR club.

Rk Player Age 30 Age 33 Actual
1 Barry Bonds 511 585 763
2 Babe Ruth 517 716 714
3 Willie Mays 531 652 660
4 Alex Rodriguez 701 743 684
5 Ken Griffey 710 538 630
6 Jim Thome 536 627 612
7 Sammy Sosa 693 742 609
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 12/2/2013.

Really close with the age 33 projections for the Babe, Willie and Jim Thome. A-Rod’s total in the Actual column is his career projection today (just 30 more than his current career total).

Leave a Reply

27 Comments on "Miggy at mid-career"

Notify of
avatar
Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Lawrence Azrin
Guest
Cabrera cetainly LOOKS like a future certain HOFer, if not an all-time great, at age 30. Then again, so did Vladimir Geurrero after his first 11 years. If you compare Games and WAR through their first 11 full years, they’re fairly close: Guerrero: 1603 G, 49.5 WAR Cabrera: 1660 G, 54.6 WAR Does Geurrero look like a likely HOFer now? Hard to say – just a cautionary tale about annointing players all-time greats in mid-career. I’m being somewhat disengenious here, as I don’t _really_ believe they are about equal; Cabrera has a peak that Guerrero doesn’t equal, at least hitting-wise.… Read more »
Lawrence Azrin
Guest
@3/Doug, As Big Bird might say ‘One of these things is not like the other’. Well, there it is, right on your charts on top – Foxx/ Pujols/ Frank Robinson/ Ott/ Aaron are clearly a cut or two above Cabrera through age 30. Cabrera is certainly great, but they were greater. This is interesting, because before his hip troubles last year, many writers were ready to place Cabrera very high amongst the pantheon of all-time great hitters. Several even proclaimed him to be to be one of the Top Ten hitters of all time. I think this is rather premature.… Read more »
Richard Chester
Guest

Talking about one thing not being like the others, Big Jawn Mize is the thing here. He batted left-handed.

Lawrence Azrin
Guest

@10/RC,

Serves me right for not checking on B-R, see #11. Everybody below Mize moves up a notch! (Put Dimaggio in the Top-Dozen).

Lawrence Azrin
Guest

@9/Doug,

Thanks. It’s not meant to be totally inclusive; not based on any advanced stats*. Mize is a lefty, OOPS.

For instance, I included Simmons, Kaline and Clemente, even though they are not in the Top-100 in career OPS+. So where would you rank you Cebrera?

* I admit that I Googled “best MLB right-handed hitters ever” to scan several of those lists.

Artie Z.
Guest
Are you sure you didn’t scan the Rbat list? Going back to 1890 (to capture all of Wagner’s and Lajoie’s careers) there are only 28 right-handed batters with 400+ career Rbat. Al Simmons (388), Ralph Kiner (369), and Roberto Clemente (373) don’t make the list but they are close. You have 25 players, minus Mize and those 3, so 21 of those players have over 400 Rbat. Throw in Cabrera and there are 22 of the 28 players, and the 1890 cutoff gets us Ed Delahanty (who wouldn’t have been on your list) so that’s 23 of 28 players. Who… Read more »
Lawrence Azrin
Guest
@15/Artie Z, I looked at OPS+ and several lists that I googled, but not Rbat. My list is partly stat-based, but I just wished to put down in one place all the outstanding right-handed hitters. A lot of of this is based on peak, and somewhat subjective. From your additions, I’d also include: – Gary Sheffield – Edgar Martinez – Vlad Guerrero …But not Rickey Henderson or Dave Winfield, because I think that their Rbat totals are due more to their longevity than their hitting greatness. Why Clemente and not Winfield, even though they have the same OPS+ of 130?… Read more »
birtelcom
Editor

For the period 2011-2013, the Tigers have both the top WAR everyday player (Cabrera just ahead of Cano, 22.1 to 21.5) and the top WAR pitcher (Verlander just barely ahead of Kershaw, 20.8 to 20.6). Over that three-year period, Detroit has the fourth-best regular season winning percentage:
1. Rangers 280-207 (.575)
2. Braves 279-207 (.574)
3. Yankees 277-209 (.570)
4. Tigers 276-210 (.568)
5. Cardinals 275-211 (.566)

birtelcom
Editor
Miggy is one of nine players with 500 or more career games played at both first base and third base, but the only one to do that by age 30 (he reached 500/500 about 8 months before his 30th birthday). The eight other 500/500 guys at first and third: Killebrew, Rose, Torre, Dick Allen, Tony Perez, Darrell Evans, Enos Cabell and Dave Magadan (Magadan being one of my all-time personal favorite players for some reason). Seven of these eight guys, all but Magadan, were active in the majors during the 1972 season, and the 1973 season, and the 1974 season… Read more »
Richard Chester
Guest
Don’t know where to put this so I’ll do it here if you don’t mind Doug. With the recent passing of Mike Palagyi, Bobby Doerr and Art Kenney are the only 2 still living players who played in the 1930s. Palagyi played in one ML game on 8-18-39. Doerr also was in that game and it had currently been the furthest back in time that 2 still living players had faced each other. I also saw that Lou Brissie also just passed away. He made it to the ML despite playing with a rebuilt leg due to a serious WWII… Read more »
JasonZ
Guest

I know this is not the place, but anybody who
thought the Yankees would show financial restraint, wrong!

This reeks of Dave Collins.

RE Miggy…

I agree with Lawrence.

I think his weight is the big challenge.

I had Marlins season tickets in 04, his first full season.

He has always been big.

jeff hill
Guest

Can anyone tell me what Piazza’s numbers could’ve been if he had played at first base instead of Catcher? Estimates obviously…

Artie Z.
Guest
I don’t think they would have been very good at all, because he was a HORRIBLE first baseman. As a Mets fan I remember watching Piazza the year they tried to convert him into a first baseman and he was just awful (which is probably why the Mets scrapped the idea and moved him back to catcher the next year). My belief is that first base is a more difficult position to play than most people think it is and it takes some skill (it’s a different type of footwork than catcher), and while Piazza was not a great defensive… Read more »
John Autin
Editor
On a tangent … I’ve been resisting this assertion, but the time seems ripe: Cabrera has reached the point where only scandal could keep him from the Hall of Fame. Right now, Miggy is a HOF traditionalist’s dream. They love high-average sluggers, they love awards and league leaders, they love reputation and stature. They don’t care so much about defense, surrounding context, or positional standards. Take batting average alone. Through age 30, Cabrera has a .321 BA in over 7,000 PAs. Twenty-one retired players had, by age 30, at least 6,000 PAs and a BA of at least .310. All… Read more »
Darien
Guest

I think the triple crown locked down Miggy’s case for the Hall, myself. Like you, I don’t necessarily *agree* with this thinking, but my suspicion is that the voters will refuse to pass up the first guy in 45 years to do it.

Russell
Guest
Thanks for the vote of confidence about Miggy’s HOF chances, John. How many WS titles do you think he will win, having one only once with the Marlins, assuming he continues with the Tigers and perhaps another contending team? I know team achievements shouldn’t factor into the HOF vote but it probably does. How many HOF members won only 1 WS title or none? Also, it’s probably been mentioned before, but how come Babe Ruth only has 1 MVP? He should have about 10. And the only other times he got votes he finished 4th or 5th and still posted… Read more »
David Horwich
Guest

In the version of the MVP award that existed in the AL from 1922-28, prior award winners were ineligible, so after winning it in 1923 Ruth was ineligible for the next several years.

oneblankspace
Guest

Look at all the Chicago players for HOF without WS — Aparicio, Appling, Banks, Dawson, Fisk, N.Fox, F.Jenkins, Sandberg, Santo, B.Williams, H.Wilson. If you want to throw in some BoSox, you can add Cronin, Rice, T.Williams, Yaz to the list.

The HOF has a list of 129 players who won a world championship at
http://baseballhall.org/sites/default/files/all/hofers_players_who_have_won_world_series2.pdf
out of 208 players total

(If the link breaks, try here: http://goo.gl/yyRlHR )

wpDiscuz