Baseball may be shifting towards more of a young man’s game thanks to a burgeoning crop of young superstars, but MLB still has plenty of “senior citizens” who are getting the job done. For example, David Ortiz, who is calling it a career after 2016, finished in the top 10 in the American League in both home runs and RBIs last season.
And Ortiz isn’t alone among those players who are at least 35 years old and still playing at a high level. In fact, three of the first five on the list below hit at least 40 home runs last season with the quintet combining for an impressive 194 round-trippers.
So who is the best of the best when it comes to baseball’s elder statesmen? Here is a list of MLB’s top players who were at least 35 years old as of Opening Day (April 4).
Note: Age as of Opening Day in parentheses
1. David Ortiz, DH/1B, Boston Red Sox (40)
This is Ortiz’ last season, but if 2015 was any indication, Big Papi still has plenty left in his bat. He hit 37 home runs, his most since a career-best 54 in 2006, and produced his ninth 100-RBI campaign (108). He became the 27th player in baseball history with 500 home runs last season (503 total) and could end up finishing his career just outside the top 10 in doubles (584, 18th entering the season). Statistics aside, what Ortiz really wants is to get back to the playoffs and get a chance at a fourth World Series title.
2. Jose Bautista, OF, Toronto Blue Jays (35)
If not for David Ortiz’ overall body of work, Bautista would be at the top of this list. An All-Star each of the past six seasons, Joey Bats has averaged 38 home runs, 97 RBIs, 95 runs and just as many walks as strikeouts (96 apiece) during that span. Bautista posted his third 40-home run campaign last season, while leading the AL with 110 walks. Unlike Ortiz, Bautista is still an asset in the field, coming up with four assists and making just three errors in 2015 as the Blue Jays’ starting right fielder.
3. Alex Rodriguez, DH, New York Yankees (40)
After sitting out 2014 due to a suspension, many were wondering what Rodriguez would have left in the tank. It turns out, plenty, as he hit 33 home runs with 86 RBIs. He may no longer be a MVP-caliber player, but A-Rod will continue to chase history this season as he’s 28 home runs away from passing Babe Ruth (715) for third on the all-time list. Rodriguez also just needs 21 RBIs to surpass Cap Anson (2,075) for third and 61 runs to eclipse Willie Mays (2,062) for seventh all-time.
4. Nelson Cruz, OF/DH, Seattle Mariners (35)
After hitting 40 home runs in 2014 with Baltimore, Cruz brought his “Boomstick” with him to Seattle. He hit a career-high 44 long balls for the Mariners, including 17 at pitcher-friendly Safeco Field. But Cruz was more than just power, as he also batted. 302 with 93 RBIs on his way to making his third straight All-Star team.
5. Albert Pujols, 1B/DH, Los Angeles Angels (36)
Somewhat quietly, Pujols slugged 40 home runs last season to bring his career total to 560. Injuries are starting to take their toll and he’ll probably log more time as a DH than at first base, but this future Hall of Famer can still get the job done at the plate. Another 40 home runs would give him 600 for his career, which would place him ninth all-time. He also will surpass 1,700 career RBIs and 1,600 runs scored early this season, while he has still yet to strike out 1,000 times despite logging more than 9,900 career at-bats.
6. Adrian Beltre, 3B, Texas Rangers (36)
Beltre dealt with some injuries last season, but still finished seventh in the AL MVP voting thanks to a torrid second half. After hitting just .255 with seven home runs and 22 RBIs prior to the All-Star Game, Beltre slashed .318/.376/.509 with 11 long balls and an impressive 61 RBIs over his last 74 games. Not bad for a guy who turns 37 on April 7, is in his 19th season in the majors, and can still pick it at the hot corner (four career Gold Gloves).
7. Victor Martinez, DH/1B, Detroit Tigers (37)
Martinez tore the medial meniscus in his left knee in February 2015 and even though he managed to play 120 games, he clearly wasn’t the same hitter. A year after finishing second in the AL MVP voting, Martinez hit just .245 with 11 home runs and 64 RBIs last season. But the track record of success is there, and the hope that with better health Martinez will return to the form that makes him one of the more productive DHs in the game.
8. John Lackey, P, Chicago Cubs (37)
Lackey went 13-10 with a career-best 2.77 ERA last season with the Cardinals. He struck out 175 over 218 innings, which allowed him to make 33 starts (tied for NL lead). Now with the Cubs, Lackey has been reunited with former Red Sox teammates Jon Lester and David Ross (as well as team president Theo Epstein) in hopes of ending another historic World Series drought.
9. Matt Holliday, OF, St. Louis Cardinals (36)
A quadriceps strain in June pretty much ended Holliday’s 2015 season, as he played just 21 games after that and hit just .196 in them. But this is still a rock-solid veteran who is a career .307 hitter and is 25 home runs shy of 300. Always a team player, Holliday has accepted the challenge of playing first base, something he hasn’t done in his 13 major league seasons, to open up a spot for one of the Cardinals’ young outfielders.
10. Curtis Granderson, OF, New York Mets (35)
Granderson batted just .259 and only stole 11 bases, but he was the catalyst for a Mets team that made it all the way to the World Series. He scored 98 runs, thanks in part to 91 walks (sixth in NL) and his .364 on-base percentage. He will strike out a lot, but the power (259 career doubles, 263 home runs entering 2016) and ability to get on base makes him one of the more well-rounded leadoff men in baseball.
11. Carlos Beltran, OF/DH, New York Yankees (38)
The MVP-esque seasons are behind him, but Beltran is still fairly reliable when it comes to hitting in the middle of a lineup. His 19 home runs last season leaves him just eight shy of 400 for his career and he needs 57 RBIs for 1,500. A career .280 hitter with nearly 1,500 runs scored, 2,500 hits, more than 500 doubles and 300-plus stolen bases, Beltran has put together an impressive set of credentials for Hall of Fame consideration, and he doesn’t appear to be done yet.
12. Santiago Casilla, P, San Francisco Giants (35)
Casilla’s career-high 38 saves tied him for fifth in the NL last season. He’s just four shy of 100 for his 13-year career and has been a part of two World Series championship teams.
13. Jayson Werth, OF, Washington Nationals (36)
Fractures in his wrist pretty much cost Werth the 2015 season. He suffered the injury on May 15 and when he returned in July he hit just .226 over the final 61 games. He did hit 10 home runs during that span (230 AB), so the hope is that he can return to the form that produced a .292-18-82 line in 2014.
14. Brad Ziegler, P, Arizona Diamondbacks (36)
Ziegler won’t strike out a ton (36 in 68 IP in 2015), but he’s also pretty reliable when it comes to finishing off games. In his first season as the Diamonbacks’ full-time closer, Ziegler blew just two of 32 save opportunities (93.8 percent).
15. R.A. Dickey, P, Toronto Blue Jays (41)
After struggling in the first half of last season (3-10, 4.87 ERA), Dickey figured it out after the All-Star break. The veteran and 2012 NL Cy Young Award winner went 8-1 with a sparkling 2.80 ERA over his final 15 starts to help the Blue Jays pull away in the AL East.
16. Marlon Byrd, OF, Cleveland Indians (38)
Byrd may not be an everyday player any more, but he has averaged 24 home runs and 82 RBIs over his last three seasons while playing for five different teams (Mets, Pirates, Phillies, Reds, Giants) during that span.
17. Koji Uehara, P, Boston Red Sox (41)
Uehara has been replaced as the Red Sox closer by Craig Kimbrel, but the eight-year veteran from Korea will still play a key bullpen role. Entering this season, Uehara had a career ERA of 2.42 and WHIP of 0.852 with 86 saves over 390 2/3 innings.
18. Jason Grilli, P, Atlanta Braves (39)
Grilli was putting together a solid season (2.94 ERA, 24 saves) in 2015 before a torn Achilles on July 11 ended things. He recovered in time to make the Braves’ 2016 Opening Day roster, but could find himself pitching for a playoff contender before the end of this season.
19. Jimmy Rollins, SS, Chicago White Sox (37)
His MVP days are long past him, but Rollins won the starting shortstop job for the White Sox in spring training after signing as a free agent. His numbers weren’t great last season with the Dodgers but he did hit and run enough to produce his 12th season with double-digit home runs and stolen bases. Rollins should reach 2,500 hits for this career this season, which includes more than 500 doubles and 229 home runs to go along with his 465 steals, which place him among the top 50 all-time.
20. Bartolo Colon, P, New York Mets (42)
The oldest player in the majors, Colon may have lost his spot in the Mets’ starting rotation, but that’s more a testament to the wealth of young, power arms the team possesses. Now in his 19th season, Colon has won nearly 60 percent of his decisions (218-154) and last year he posted his fourth straight winning season (14-13) and 12th of his career.
Ichiro Suzuki, OF, Miami Marlins (42)
There is no denying that Suzuki is way past his prime. He got less than 400 at-bats last season while hitting just .229. However, he enters 2016 just 65 hits shy of 3,000 in his major league career. Don’t forget that he came over from Japan in 2001 after nine seasons overseas. For his entire professional baseball career, with 2016 being his 25th season, Suzuki has batted .325 with 4,213 hits, 2,006 runs scored, 552 doubles, 114 triples, 231 home runs, 1,267 RBIs, 697 stolen bases and 980 walks (through 2015). Regardless of where’s he played, that’s a pretty impressive resume.
Don’t Forget About
Joaquin Benoit, P, Seattle Mariners (38)
Coco Crisp, OF, Oakland Athletics (36)
Rajai Davis, OF, Cleveland Indians (35)
Rich Hill, P, Oakland Athletics (36)
Ryan Howard, 1B, Philadelphia Phillies (36)
Javier Lopez, P, San Francisco Giants (38)
Pat Neshek, P, Houston Astros (35)
Fernando Rodney, P, San Diego Padres (39)
David Ross, C, Chicago Cubs (39)
CC Sabathia, P, New York Yankees (35)
Chase Utley, 2B, Los Angeles Dodgers (37)
Ryan Vogelsong, P, Pittsburgh Pirates (38)
C.J. Wilson, P, Los Angeles Angels (35)