Moyer at 47

This is a boring spring training.  The team is relatively healthy.  There are no major position battles.  There's only one new position player, and he's someone we're already familiar with.  And the Roy Halladay excitement really occurred in November.  We're left to sit and watch players who have done this before and we know pretty well sleep walk through a month of exhibitions.

April can't come soon enough.

But, there is one thing that is not set in stone, and that's the fifth starter.  Twenty-five year old Kyle Kendrick is trying to take the job away from forty-seven year old Jamie Moyer.  I gave Kendrick up for dead last spring, but so far he has a 1.29 ERA in 14 innings with opponents hitting .149 against him.

Moyer, on the other hand, has pitched mostly B games with mixed results.  In his one game that "counts," he gave up 1 run in 5 innings.  So far, the Phillies have indicated that Moyer has the job.

But what can they expect if he goes to the mound as a 47-year old pitcher?  Prediction systems have a very hard time with him because what he's trying to do has rarely been done before.

I'm not about to answer the question, but what I am going to do is give you some information.  There have been just 5 pitchers in MLB history who have pitched at the age of 47.  And almost 60% of the 47-year old innings were pitched by Phil Niekro in 1986, when he went 11-11 as a starting pitcher, completed 5 games, and had a 4.32 ERA (but a 5.40 RA).  Here's the chart:

Player Year Tm G GS W-L SV IP ERA ERA+ RA WHIP
Kaiser Wilhelm 1921 PHI 4 0 0-0 0 8 3.38 130 3.38 1.75
Nick Altrock 1924 WSH 1 0 0-0 0 2 0 4.50 2.00
Jack Quinn 1931 BRO 39 1 5-4 15 64.1 2.66 145 3.93 1.39
Hoyt Wilhelm 1970 TOT 53 0 6-5 13 82 3.4 128 3.62 1.40
Phil Niekro 1986 CLE 34 32 11-11 0 210.1 4.32 96 5.40 1.60

So what can we conclude from this chart about Jamie Moyer? I would say absolutely nothing other than the following pretty uninformative pieces of information: 1) what he's trying to do this year is virtually unprecedented; and 2) if we get anything positive out of him this year it will be historically noteworthy.

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