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You know you’re getting older, becoming a real grown-up, when you realize you’re the same age as Major League Baseball players. Then it dawns on you that players your age are considered “grizzled veterans.” And then, eventually, there’s no one your age in MLB left. Then you are old.
Marking your age by how it compares to MLB players is a risky proposition; I’m still reeling from the fact that Placido Polanco — a former big leaguer who was born on Oct. 10, 1975, the same day as me — has been retired since 2013. But life moves on, inexorably, regardless.
The good news for wretches like us is that there still are some old guys hanging around. Now that Spring Training games have begun, we take our annual look at the 10 oldest players in MLB.
To qualify for this list, players simply must be on a Major League roster. Being on the injured list or being a non-roster invitee counts as long as you’re on a spring roster. (And we old people know how it is to always feel injured.) Not included on this list are some guys still searching for a team, including the unsigned-but-not-yet-retired Sergio Romo (born March 4, 1983), Aníbal Sánchez (Feb. 27, 1984), Joe Smith (March 22, 1984), Jed Lowrie (April 17, 1984), Robinson Chirinos (June 5, 1984) and Yuli Gurriel (June 9, 1984).
Note: Each player is listed with his age on Opening Day.
1. Rich Hill, LHP, Pirates (age 43)
Born: March 11, 1980 | 1st season: 2005
Now that Albert Pujols is retired, there’s a new Old Guy sheriff in town, and what better guy to have in the saddle than old Hill himself? He entered the Majors at 25, went through quite a few struggles and spent time as a reliever before making a shocking re-emergence as one of the best starting pitchers in baseball in 2016. He’s been solid since then, too, and as long as you don’t expect too many innings from him, he could still be doing this when he’s 90. For what it’s worth: He was at Michigan exactly one year after Tom Brady.
2. Nelson Cruz, DH, Padres (age 42)
Born: July 1, 1980 | 1st season: 2005
Last season — his first stint in the National League since he was with the Brewers back in 2005 — didn’t go well for Cruz, who posted a .650 OPS for the Nationals. But now he’s with a San Diego club that has serious championship aspirations. He’ll have to hit better than he did last year to keep his lineup spot, though, on a team with plenty of DH candidates.
3. Adam Wainwright, RHP, Cardinals (age 41)
Born: Aug. 30, 1981 | 1st season: 2005
Wainwright is destined to be in a broadcast booth when he retires — quite possibly a national one — and he has already announced that this will be his last season. He was excellent for most of 2022 before his season imploded in the final month, struggles Wainwright blamed on faulty mechanics. The Cardinals are counting on him to hold up his spot in the rotation during his grand finale. Don’t miss a game when he’s mic’d up, though.
4. Justin Verlander, RHP, Mets (age 40)
Born: Feb. 20, 1983 | 1st season: 2005
Verlander zooms up four spots from last year, which is pretty impressive considering he is also, uh, the defending American League Cy Young Award winner. He’s still 2 1/2 years younger than Roger Clemens was when he won his final Cy Young at the age of 42 in 2004, but we’re sure JV will win one when he’s that age, too.
5. Miguel Cabrera, DH, Tigers (age 39)
Born: April 18, 1983 | 1st season: 2003
Believe it or not, this is Cabrera’s first season as one of the 10 oldest players in MLB. (He needed Darren O’Day, Yadier Molina, Robinson Canó, Oliver Pérez and Romo to fall off the list to finally make it). He’s one of several clear Hall of Famers on the list, and we all have one last season to say goodbye.
6. Jesse Chavez, RHP, Braves (age 39)
Born: Aug. 21, 1983 | 1st season: 2008
Chavez is just in camp with Atlanta and hasn’t secured his spot on the team. He played for three teams last year, and the Braves were the only one with which he had success; he struggled with the Cubs and Angels. If this does prove to be the end for Chavez, 15 years and 571 games in the big leagues is quite an accomplishment for a player who was picked in the 42nd round of the Draft.
7. Joey Votto, 1B, Reds (age 39)
Born: Sept. 10, 1983 | 1st season: 2007
Despite a social media presence that would make a teenager jealous, Votto is, in fact, old. He struggled mightily last year, at the plate and with injuries, and this is the final guaranteed year of his 10-year contract. (Cincinnati has a $20 million option or $7 million buyout for 2024). Votto is one of the greatest Reds players of all time and a fascinating Hall of Fame case. But right now, we should just appreciate the joy of having this guy around every day, while we can.
8. Zack Greinke, RHP, Royals (age 39)
Born: Oct. 21, 1983 | 1st season: 2004
He broke into the bigs at 20 and is back, once again, with his original team. There really will never be another like Greinke, and it’s actually sort of difficult to think of baseball without him. He delivered an above-average ERA+ for the 17th consecutive season in 2022, after returning to Kansas City for the first time since 2010.
9. Charlie Morton, RHP, Braves (age 39)
Born: Nov. 12, 1983 | 1st season: 2008
Did anyone else forget he actually broke in with the Braves back in 2008? They traded him to the Pirates for Nate McLouth, a name you have not thought about for a long, long time. Morton’s back-half-of-his-career resurgence has been remarkable to watch, and while 2022 wasn’t the best season for him, there’s still a spot in the Atlanta rotation waiting for him. He even has a teammate in Michael Harris II, who is 17 years younger than him.
10. Craig Stammen, RHP, Padres (age 39)
Born: March 9, 1984 | First season: 2009
Stammen is a non-roster invitee for the Padres, though with all the changes this organization has made in the seven years since he joined the team, he should hang around just to explain to the new guys where the bathrooms are.