Dec 4, 2012, 12:05 AM EDT
Earlier today I tried taking a gander at Angel Pagan‘s fate by looking at what some similar players did after age 31. I created a list of players who had OPSs between .720-.780, no more than 50 homers and at least 50 steals from ages 28-30 (Pagan had a .749 OPS, 26 HR and 98 SB during those three seasons).
Not making that list of comparables was Shane Victorino. He was a bit too good from 2009-11, his age 28-30 seasons, finishing those years with an .800 OPS. However, after a down 2012 season, Victorino would have fit perfectly in the Pagan range there for his age 29-31 seasons. Victorino has a .766 OPS, 46 homers and 92 steals the last three years.
So, I’ve decided to create a similar list for Victorino. This one won’t be quite as long as Pagan’s. Besides Victorino, there are nine center fielders in history to post OPSs from .730-.800, hit between 20-60 homers and steal at least 50 bases from 29-31. One was Alex Rios, who happens to be the same age as Victorino, so he doesn’t tell us anything. Here’s what the other eight did from 32 onward:
Cesar Cedeno: .263/.320/.401, 99 OPS+ in 1,086 AB
Willie Davis: .283/.312/.422, 106 OPS+ in 2,893 AB
Marquis Grissom: .266/.303/.422, 87 OPS+ in 3,275 AB
Stan Javier: .284/.362/.384, 99 OPS+ in 2,151 AB
Ron LeFlore: .263/.326/.353, 92+ OPS in 1,192 AB
Mickey Rivers: .287/.314/.366, 93 OPS+ in 1,089 AB
Devon White: .273/.333/.432, 100 OPS+ in 2,829 AB
Mookie Wilson: .264/.299/.364, 87 OPS+ in 1,694 AB
So, of the eight players most similar to Victorino, Davis, Javier and White lasted as quality regulars after 32. Javier was actually rarely a regular before turning 30, but he ended up being a much better old player than a young one. LaFlore might have lasted as a regular too if not for his cocaine problem.
Personally, I’d be too scared off by Victorino’s decline in 2012 to give him a three-year deal. My suspicion is that he could well be a fourth outfielder come 2014 or ’15. Still, it’s worth noting players like him haven’t aged that badly. Speed oftentimes does age better than power, which is one of the factors in Victorino’s favor.