Aging Curves — Player Analysis
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Stat of the Week
by Peter Liubicich
Aging Curves — Player Analysis
This post was written by Peter Liubicich on December 14, 2012
Posted Under: Stat of the Week

Yesterday, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim shocked those in the baseball world by locking up outfielder Josh Hamilton for five years, $125 million, making him and Ryan Howard the two highest paid players on a per year basis.  We’re looking at Aging Curves and many in the press didn’t believe that Hamilton would be able to grab a deal over 3 to 4 years due to concerns of Hamilton’s age catching up to him.

As we saw on Monday, the age that the average MLB players usually peak at in terms of different offensive statistical categories according to J.C. Bradbury are:

Peak Age by Skill

Hitters

Metric Peak Age
Linear Weights 29.4
OBP 30.0
SLG 28.6
AVG 28.4
Walk Rate 32.3
2B+3B 28.3
Home Run Rate 29.9

Josh Hamilton is 31 and will turn 32 towards the beginning of the season on May 21st.  I saw one article that says the first two years of Hamilton’s contract will be productive and that the last 3 will be frustrating for Angels’ baseball execs and fans alike.  However, let’s remember that Hamilton did not begin his career at the same time as he was projected to due to drug issues.  He was drafted in 1999 by the Rays at the age of 18 and presumably would have been called up in 2003 at the age of 22, but because of his personal demons he wasn’t called up until 2007 by the Reds at the age of 26.  There really hasn’t been a case like Hamilton for us to fairly compare him but his numbers appear to suggest he is aging the same way that many of big leaguers before him have.

Year Age OBP SLG AVG Walk Rate 2B+3B HR Rate (HR/FB)
2007 26 .368 .554 .292 9.8% 19 24.4%
2008 27 .371 .530 .304 9.1% 40 19.2%
2009 28 .315 .426 .268 6.6% 21 9.2%
2010 29 .411 .633 .359 7.5% 43 20.6%
2011 30 .346 .536 .298 7.2% 36 16.4%
2012 31 .354 .577 .285 9.4% 33 25.6%

As we see with Hamilton’s numbers, he peaked at age 29 in 2010 during his MVP season with career highs in OBP, SLG, AVG and Doubles and Walks.  Arguably his greatest walk rate year was this past season as he played in 148 games in 2012 compared to only 90 in 2007, and his greatest home run rate came this year as well when he hit an amazing 43 home runs.  From these numbers it appears that Hamilton is following the trend of many hitters before him, has already reached his prime and the Angels should not expect a player who will regain his 2010 form nor put up 43 homers again.

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