No plunkings for old men

May 3rd, 2010 by pbr

Jim Edmonds isn’t old in geological terms, and he’d be really young in terms of, for example, popes or Supreme Court justices, but he is over half way toward the average US life expectancy, and he is on the old side for Major League Baseball players. He is just under two months away from turning 40, and he’s the oldest batter to get hit by a pitch this season. That makes April of 2010 the first April since 1997 in which no one over 40 got hit by a pitch. On first glance that might look like some broad trend toward a more youthful league, but both the mean age at plunk date and the median age of plunk recipients has risen from last year and the year before.

Here’s a quick chart of ages of plunked batters (as of the date of their plunks, not that stupid baseball stat thing where everyone is the age that they would be on July 1 of the season):

Year HBPs Max age Min age Mean age Median Age
2010* 242 39.81 20.45 29.99 29.79
2009 1590 46.44 20.62 29.51 29.23
2008 1672 41.94 20.73 29.38 28.87
2007 1755 43.12 20.1 29.31 28.8

*-through May 2nd

Those averages are done by plunk incident, not by player plunked – so I’m taking the list of every plunk, and the age of the player on that date, and taking the average of those ages. Because I’m sure you cared exactly how that was done.

As you can see, the average age of the batters plunked this season is brushing very close to 30 years old, up nearly half a year from last season, although early season demographic numbers will tend to fall as the season moves along and younger minor leaguers are called up, and inevitably get hit by pitches.

Also, the lack of plunks for 40 year olds is not due to lack of opportunities – there were 118 plate appearances by batters over 40 in April of 2010, producing no HBPs, while last season there were 2 HBPs by the 40+ crowd, in only 98 plate appearances. (In 2007, batters over 40 years old had 501 plate appearance in April.)

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