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Ageless Wonders: Can Ichiro Top these Seasons by Baseball’s Best 40-Year-Olds?

Ichiro Suzuki
Ichiro Suzuki was a ten-time All-Star during his first stint with the Mariners. Photo by Keith Allison (Flickr) [CC License]
  • Ichiro Suzuki is returning to the Pacific Northwest after signing a one-year deal with the Mariners.
  • Can the two-time batting champ still be a productive hitter at age 44? 
  • Will Ichiro hit his 100th career triple in 2018?

The Seattle Mariners are turning back the clock this season after signing Ichiro Suzuki to a one-year, $750,000 deal. The 44-year-old outfielder spent 11 seasons with the club from 2001-2012 and is still a local legend after winning an MVP and a pair of batting titles in Emerald City.

So, how much can the Mariners reasonably expect from Ichiro? Can he still contribute to the team on a daily basis, or was he acquired purely for PR purposes? We’ve set the odds on his production for the 2018 season and beyond, and have outlined the five best seasons by players aged 40 or over to give a sense of his ceiling.

Visit our most trusted sportsbooks closer to Opening Day to see if these wagers are available.

Prop Odds
Odds Ichiro hits above .300 in 2018 25/1
Odds Ichiro has 200 or more at bats in 2018 12/1
Odds Ichiro has 50 or more hits in 2018 30/1
Odds Ichiro steals five or more bases in 2018 40/1
Odds Ichiro hits his 100th career triple in 2018 80/1
Odds Ichiro plays in the MLB beyond 2018 20/1
Odds Ichiro finishes his MLB career as a Seattle Mariner 1/4
Odds Ichiro plays in Japan following the end of his MLB career 1/3
Odds Ichiro is inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame 1/100

David Ortiz (2016 Boston Red Sox)

AB Hits 2B HR RBI
537 169 48 38 127

David Ortiz saved his best for last when he hit .318 with 48 doubles, 38 home runs, and 127 RBIs in his final season in the Big Leagues. The larger-than-life masher led the American League in slugging and OPS that year and finished sixth in MVP voting despite the fact that he played all but one game at DH.

It was a fitting end to a Hall of Fame career and remains, to this day, one of the greatest offensive seasons ever by a 40-year-old player.

Randy Johnson
Randy Johnson finished second in Cy Young balloting in 2004. Photo by SD Dirk (Flickr) [CC License]

Randy Johnson (2004 Arizona Diamondbacks)

Record ERA CG IP SO
16-14 2.60 4 245.2 290

It’s easy to overlook Randy Johnson’s 2004 season because of his pedestrian .533 winning percentage, but the Big Unit was still the most overpowering pitcher in baseball even at age 40. The 6’10” lefty led the league in games started, strikeouts, WHIP, ERA+, and hits per nine innings, and finished second in Cy Young balloting to an obviously juiced Roger Clemens. Take pharmaceuticals out of the equation and Johnson would have won the award in a landslide.

Johnson stuck around for five more seasons and padded his Hall of Fame resume by surpassing 300 wins and striking out 200 or more batters in a season for the 14th time.

Nolan Ryan (1989 Texas Rangers)

Record ERA CG IP SO
16-10 3.20 6 239.1 301

Ryan is the only player on our list who actually seemed to get better once he hit his forties. The tough-as-nails Texan led the league in strikeouts four times after celebrating his 40th birthday and finished in the top five in Cy Young voting twice during that period.

Ryan was named an All-Star for the eighth time in 1989 and finished in the top 25 in AL MVP balloting.

His best post-40 season came in 1989 when he went 16-10 and struck out 301 batters in 239.1 innings pitched. That’s a huge workload for any pitcher, but especially one well into his fourth decade. Ryan was named an All-Star for the eighth time that season and finished in the top 25 in AL MVP balloting.

Ryan’s greatest moment of all, however, came four years later in 1993 when the 46-year-old hurler took down 26-year-old Robin Ventura like a cowboy wrestling a steer. The best part of all? Ryan was allowed to stay in the game and promptly picked off the runner who was brought in to replace the ejected Ventura.

Dave Winfield (1992 Toronto Blue Jays)

AB Hits 2B HR RBI
583 169 33 26 108

Dave Winfield could have been a Hall of Famer in three different sports, but the Blue Jays are awfully glad he chose baseball. Winny joined Toronto in 1992 and hit .290 with 26 homers and 108 RBI as a 40-year-old outfielder and DH.

The 6’6” slugger proved his real value in the postseason that year when he hit a dramatic 11th-inning, two-run double off of Atlanta Braves pitcher Charlie Leibrandt to power the Jays to their first World Series title. The clutch hit allowed him to shed the derisive “Mr. May” nickname that had dogged him throughout his career and ensured he would never again have to pay for his own drinks in Toronto.

Carlton Fisk (1990 Chicago White Sox)

AB Hits 2B HR RBI
452 129 21 18 65

Imagine playing 137 games at age 42. Now imagine crouching down for all of them. That was the reality for Carlton Fisk, who hit .285 with 18 home runs and 65 RBI while also handling Chicago’s pitching staff on a daily basis. It’s exhausting to even consider, but Pudge donned the tools of ignorance without complaint and led the White Sox to a stellar 94-68 record in the highly competitive AL West.

The Hall of Famer remained in the Bigs for three more seasons and was named an All-Star for the 11th time in his career in 1991 during his final year as an everyday catcher.

Author Image

Ryan Murphy began his love affair with sports journalism at the age of nine when he wrote his first article about his little league baseball team. He has since authored his own column for Fox Sports, and now serves as SBD’s resident NBA and MLB expert.