Batting in MLB at 37+ years, an ALMOST EXCLUSIVE LUXURY from Yulieski Gurriel

By Juan Páez

With the emergence and progressive rise of multi-million dollar mega-contracts in the Major Leagues, the presence of figures in their 40s or near that number has declined in the Big Top. And such a reality has diminished even more strongly the number of position players who have outstanding seasons with the club when they reach an advanced age for a player. Today, cases like those of Yulieski Gurriel, Nelson Cruz or Joey Votto are rare in the majors.

The three mentioned stars are great examples. The oldest is Cruz. In 2021, a season that he played with 40 springs, he played 140 times and dropped 21 doubles and 32 home runs, with 86 RBIs between the Minnesota Twins and the Tampa Bay Rays, who acquired him in the middle of the season.

But what Gurriel did is the same or even more incredible. The Sancti Spiritus-born was the best hitter in the American League in terms of club average, winning the batting title (.319) at age 37, the second-oldest man to reach the title. But not satisfied with the average crown, Yuli shot 31 doubles, sent 15 balls flying, made 81 lines, scored 83 times, took 59 walks and struck out only 68 times. To his record, he added a Gold Glove as first baseman for the Houston Astros.

At 38 years of age, Votto (to round out the three mentioned figures) barely appeared in 129 games for the Cincinnati Reds. Yet that was enough for him to get 36 balls out of the park for the first time since 2017, driving in 99 runs, scoring 73 times and receiving 77 walks, all with a huge .938 OPS.

For you to have a reference to how strange or uncommon these performances are at 37 years of age or older, let us give you the following data (based on players 37+ years of age) …

· In the past 20 years, only nine players have hit 150 or more hits in a season since their 37-year season: Derek Jeter (2), Ichiro Suzuki (2), Torii Hunter (2), David Ortiz (2) , Víctor Martínez, Johnny Damon, Carlos Beltrán, Adrián Beltré and Gurriel.

· Only two players reached 35 doubles: Ortiz (3) and Hunter.

· Only five batters drove in 100+ runs: Ortiz (4), Cruz, Beltré, Alfonso Soriano and Albert Pujols.

· Just three hit at least 35 home runs: Ortiz (3), Cruz (2) and Votto.

· Seven had at least 500 plate appearances and finished the season with a .300+ average: Ortiz (2), Beltré, Hunter, Cruz, Jeter, Gurriel and Ben Zobrist. Interestingly, Gurriel’s average was the best, the .319 with which he won the batting title this year.

As you can see, the Cuban army has a player in Gurriel like the ones you don’t see anymore. Astros first baseman, who has contract for 2022, continues to hit hits and be part of one of the most fearsome and productive lineups in all of baseball. The upcoming Major League Baseball season will be another showcase for Yuli to continue to defy time.

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Batting in MLB at 37+ years, an ALMOST EXCLUSIVE LUXURY from Yulieski Gurriel