Braves “New” Pitchers

November 18, 2016

In the last week, the Atlanta Braves signed former Cy Young Award winners Bartolo Colon from the New York Mets and R.A. Dickey from the Toronto Blue Jays. This gives the Braves the two oldest pitchers in Major League Baseball at 43 and 42 years old, respectively. Colon and Dickey will as of now be joining Julio Teheran, Mike Foltynewicz, and Matt Wisler in the Braves starting rotation raising the rotation’s average age to 32.2, eight years older than the average age of the five Braves pitchers with the most games started in 2016—Teheran, Foltynewicz, and Wisler along with Aaron Blair and Williams Perez.

Colon is one of only 17 pitchers in the history of Major League Baseball who has started 100 games or more as a 40+ year-old. (Note: Age during a season is defined as the player’s age at the beginning of July for that season). In terms of total wins, he still has a long way to go to catch Phil Niekro and Jamie Moyer, the only two pitchers with 100+ wins during their 40+ seasons with 121 and 105, respectively. However, Colon’s 62 wins over his only four 40+ seasons give him 15.5 wins per season, the highest average of all 17 pitchers. Also, only one of the 40+ pitchers has a better winning percentage than Colon’s .608 (62-40), Roger Clemens at .649 (61-33).

Only five of the 17 pitchers who have started 100 games or more as 40+ year-olds have a better ERA than Colon. Look at these names: (# denotes player has been elected to the Hall of Fame)

Player ERA
Cy Young# 2.14
Roger Clemens 2.99
Nolan Ryan# 3.33
Warren Spahn# 3.44
Jack Quinn 3.49
Bartolo Colon 3.59
Phil Niekro# 3.84
Randy Johnson# 3.87
Gaylord Perry# 3.91
Charlie Hough 4.06
Don Sutton# 4.06


Bartolo Colon is simply one of the best age 40+ starting pitchers of all time.

R.A. Dickey doesn’t fare quite as well as Colon after coming off a season with his highest ERA and lowest number of wins when starting 10 or more games since 2008 and 2011, respectively. However, out of the 34 pitchers who have started at least 50 games including and since their age 40 season—Dickey has started 62—he still ranks ninth in wins per season with 10.5.


COMMENTS (2 Comments, most recent shown first)

While Colon's win total is likely to improve, there is also likely to be a significant decline in his winning percentage and increase in his era before he retires. It seems like there is always a last, catastrophic season (unless you are Sandy Koufax or Mike Mussina).

It might be interesting to also look at the over-40 relievers as well.
12:30 PM Nov 18th
I'd be interested in seeing ERA+ numbers instead of raw ERA, to adjust for era differences, etc. Otherwise, we don't know whether Cy Young's 2.14 is better than Roger Clemens's 2.99, or vice versa (without going and looking them up ourselves and performing some calculations, etc.). Thanks. Otherwise, great article!
11:27 AM Nov 18th
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