When you reach the age of 30 as a professional athlete, your days are automatically numbered. It doesn’t matter what sport is involved, it’s a similar story. In this case, it’s America’s Favorite Pastime.
After speaking to numerous athletes, they all want to play until they physically can’t anymore. Some reach a certain age where they want to hang up their cleats, and others realize they don’t have the body they used to.
When it comes to a veteran pitcher whose knuckleball helps him dominate the test of time, a couple veterans hoping to join prestigious hitting clubs this season or someone who wants to just have one more shot at the bigs, each one of these players has a story.
Here are 10 MLB players who will prove age is nothing but a number in 2017.
Bartolo Colon, starting pitcher, Atlanta Braves (43)
Take just one glance at the pitcher who has spent almost two decades in the majors and you may understand why his nickname is The Big Sexy. If not, take a look at everything he’s accomplished before he blows out 44 candles on his birthday cake this year.
The veteran has 19 seasons under his belt with four All-Star spots and a Cy Young Award from back in 2005. That same season saw him recognized as an MVP candidate.
One of Colon’s All-Star spots was from last season where he tossed a 3.43 ERA with 128 strikeouts and 32 walks.
The veteran is now making his home with the Braves, where he and another seasoned-pitcher will be leading the way for the young pitching staff. We will tell you about him later.
Jason Grilli, relief pitcher, Toronto Blue Jays (40)
Grilli has pitched extremely well during his 14-year MLB career, posting a 5.1 WAR, 4.09 ERA and 32 wins during that span.
The veteran pitcher has been in many uniforms including the Pirates, Tigers and Marlins as well as a stint with the White Sox. He’s also seen many postseason games and was an All-Star in 2013, finishing the season with a 2.70 ERA.
Grilli is heading into his 15th season with the Blue Jays and will serve as the primary setup man in Toronto.
Josh Hamilton, outfielder, Texas Rangers (35)
Hamilton recently underwent surgery on his left knee. This is the fourth surgery on the same knee and it is reported he will need six weeks of rest and rehab before he can resume running (more on that here).
This seems like terrible news, and it very well could be. But let’s try and make this a positive write-up on the five-time All-Star.
Hamilton was re-signed by the Rangers and planned on playing at first base this season. There were already many other names that could have made a place at the position, including Mike Napoli who makes his way back to the Lonestar State. This list also includes young stars stars Joey Gallo and Ryan Rua, both of whom are still figuring out where they will play.
This takes the edge off slightly in that regard, but will Hamilton be back?
Well, it’s not looking good at the moment. But if anything, we know the 35-year-old doesn’t give up. Whether he comes back or not, Hamilton will leave a legacy.
He’s hit a career 200 home runs with 701 RBI’s and a 28.1 WAR. Hamilton was named the 2010 MVP and has collected three Silver Slugger awards.
Let’s hope we see him back in 2017. If so, he should still be able to rake.
R.A. Dickey, starting pitcher, Atlanta Braves (42)
R.A. Dickey not only has an impressive resume, but he has starred in a documentary highlighting his knuckleball.
The 42-year-old has 14 seasons under his belt with a 2012 All-Star spot and an NL Cy Young award. He did struggle last season with an awful 4.46 ERA in 169.2 innings, but his ability to throw a knuckleball could benefit him in the long run. Pitchers with that specialty pitch tend to have longer careers.
Ichiro Suzuki, outfielder, Miami Marlins (43)
Nope, he hasn’t retired yet.
The former MVP is a 10-time All-Star with two batting titles, 10 Gold Gloves and three Silver Slugger Awards. He also just joined the 3,000-hit club this past season.
Ichiro Suzuki has spent 43 years on this earth and it’s safe to say he’s accomplished many feats, and it doesn’t matter where on earth he was to reach those accomplishments. Ahem, Mr. Rose.
Ichiro will return to the Marlins in 2017 after the team exercised the club option on his contract. He posted a .291/.354/.376 line last season and could still continue playing in 2018 with the team adding an option for that season as well.
Albert Pujols, first base, Los Angeles Angels (37)
A Three-time Most Valuable Player, Albert Pujols has also been bitten by the injury bug plenty of times in his 16-year career.
The latest on Pujols was his recovery from a surgery he underwent on his foot in December. The surgery was to relieve pain in his right plantar fasciitis which has bothered Pujols for a large portion of his career.
It’s still undetermined whether the 10-time All-Star will be ready for Opening Day, but he currently holds a .309 career batting average and is on his way to joining the 3,000-hit club with another guy on this list.
Pujols will be back this season, it’s just a matter of when at this point.
Mike Napoli, infielder, Texas Rangers (35)
Mike Napoli is making his way back to the Texas Rangers after signing a one-year, $8.5 million contract.
In three seasons with the Rangers, the 2012 All-Star catcher had 59 home runs, 141 RBI and has a career .277/.381/.548 slash line. Last season with the Indians, he finished with a .239 batting average and 34 home runs.
The fanbase is more than happy to welcome him back.
Adrian Beltre, third baseman, Texas Rangers (37)
The list is filled to the brim with Texas Rangers players, but Adrian Beltre stands out above the rest.
He, along with Pujols are well on their way to landing in the prestigious 3,000-hit club. I did some math to determine how close either one of them can come to reaching that goal.
With that being said, Beltre is just 58 hits away from landing that feat, which means he will hit the 3,000 plateau this season.
The five-time Gold Glove Award winner shows no signs of slowing down, especially after being in MVP talks over the last few years.
Beltre is heading into his 20th season in the bigs and a career and boasts a tremendous .286/.338/.480 line. He’s still one of the most-feared power-hitting third basemen in the game.
Chase Utley, second baseman, Los Angeles Dodgers (38)
Here’s a fun fact.
Six-time All-Star Chase Utley has been playing for the Dodgers for a couple of seasons now. That’s left an imprint on manager Dave Roberts, who calls Utley his “favorite player of all time.”
Fair enough. The 38-year-old has a World Series ring, four Silver Slugger Awards and 14 seasons to his name.
He was just re-signed to the Dodgers for a third season and carries a career .252/.319/.396 line with 1,777 hits and 250 bombs.
Bronson Arroyo, starting pitcher, Cincinnati Reds (40)
The Cincinnati Reds signed 40-year-old Bronson Arryo to a minor league deal during the off season. And while he hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2014 due to injury, he’s being looked at “as a swingman in 2017 if his health cooperates,” according to RotoWorld.
In 15 seasons in the majors, the 2006 All-Star holds a career 4.19 ERA with 1,526 K’s in 2,364 innings pitched.
He’s made just two starts in the minors over the last two seasons, but the big league club could see him sooner rather than later.