Why Did They Retire?

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Related to the revived HOF thread:

Brian Downing:


He was one of the best old players ever, and could still rake even at age 40 and 41 (2.6 oWAR each year, 138 OPS+ at age 41).

Also, what about Doyle Alexander:


He retired after the '89 season, only two years removed from being the toast of baseball in '87. He did lead the league in losses and was 38, but had thrown 200 + IP for six straight years. His K rate took a dive and BB rate jumped, so I guess his stuff was gone? The '89 game logs seem to suggest this -- he had a good start to the year and steadily declined.

NoTimeBeforeTime, Monday, 13 October 2014 04:28 (seven years ago) link

Billy Wagner is another closer that really hadn't lost anything when he hung it up. I think for some of these guys, they make so much money they just get tired of the job.

earlnash, Monday, 13 October 2014 04:47 (seven years ago) link

I don't remember the exact circumstances with Downing and Alexander, but looking at their career boxes, it looks to me like they had gone as far as they could. Downing's contract had expired and he was 41, so he probably just didn't have any offers (even though, as you say, he was still productive). Alexander had just gone 6-18 at age 38, with a worse-than-league ERA, and had pitched 19 years for eight different teams.

Downing makes me think of weightlifting, and that James used to name him as his favourite player. With Alexander, it's being carried off the field in '85 when the Jays clinched their first divisional title.

clemenza, Monday, 13 October 2014 05:21 (seven years ago) link

Brian Downing had one of the more unique batting styles with that totally open stance.

earlnash, Monday, 13 October 2014 05:25 (seven years ago) link

That too! Forgot about that--really unusual.

clemenza, Monday, 13 October 2014 05:27 (seven years ago) link

I think the pressures of playing baseball really drained Wagner, he'd made up his mind to retire before the season began. He'd had enough of the grind, I don't think it was the money.

Contract status probably did come into play with some of the older guys. Alexander took one year deals in '88 and '89, the Tigers didn't want him back and he would have had to search for a new team. Instead, he retired. In today's game, he would have signed a 3-4 year free agent deal after '87 and pitched until his arm fell off.

NoTimeBeforeTime, Monday, 13 October 2014 05:37 (seven years ago) link

three years pass...

Chris Hoiles?

He popped up on the Baseball Reference photo-collage at the top left today. He had a fantastic year in '93 (.310/.416/.585, 29 HR, 162 OPS+), especially for a catcher, and received a few MVP votes. For the next five seasons, he settles in around 2.5 WAR and 17 or 18 HR a year. In his final season, still only 33, he hits 15 HR with a slash line of .262/.358/.476, his best slugging pct. since '93. Looked to be pretty good defensively too.

clemenza, Tuesday, 25 September 2018 18:55 (three years ago) link

His Wikipedia page doesn't offer any explanation, though he did go on to coach at the university level--maybe he had a job all lined up.

His .994 career fielding percentage ranks ninth all-time among Major League catchers. Hoiles' career .837 on-base plus slugging percentage is seventh-highest all-time among major league catchers. His .467 slugging percentage is 11th highest all-time among major league catchers.

PED era, but still.

clemenza, Tuesday, 25 September 2018 18:58 (three years ago) link

could no longer catch with a degenerative hip and bad back

mookieproof, Tuesday, 25 September 2018 19:09 (three years ago) link

willis otanez did not turn out to be a wise choice, tho

mookieproof, Tuesday, 25 September 2018 19:12 (three years ago) link

Paul Molitor and Moises Alou both could still swing the stick at the end of their career.

Molitor is one of the players that probably benefited most from the DH, as he could not stay healthy playing in the field. His counting stats would have been even more off the charts as he easily missed 3 seasons of games for injuries in his first decade of playing.

earlnash, Wednesday, 26 September 2018 00:42 (three years ago) link

Molitor was definitely one of the best "old" hitters ever. 225 hits at age 39! He probably could have hung around for another couple of years as a pinch hitter if he wanted to.

NoTimeBeforeTime, Wednesday, 26 September 2018 08:50 (three years ago) link

I think Molitor pushed it about as far as he could. There was clear decline his last three years, he was 41, and, by his own standards (and in the context of peak-PED-era), he really wasn't much of a hitter his last year.

clemenza, Wednesday, 26 September 2018 16:48 (three years ago) link

two years pass...

Dave Cash?

Steady and solid through the '70s, MVP votes three consecutive years, hits .321 with the Expos in 1979, has his first negative WAR year with the Padres in '80, gets released, and--at the age of 32--never plays again. Was no one interested, or did he just retire?

clemenza, Friday, 21 May 2021 15:45 (six months ago) link

Cash went to spring training in 1981 but was released as the season started on April 4. He hit just .172 in the exhibition games for the Padres, yet it was still a shock to him to be let go. Cash said, “I know I hadn’t produced during the spring, but I was playing on a slightly injured knee. It occurred in batting practice, and the knee bothered me a bit after that. I’m not using it as an excuse, but it did have an effect.” After his release, he attempted to catch on with a team that would be a contender, but things never worked out.

Piven After Midnight (The Yellow Kid), Friday, 21 May 2021 15:51 (six months ago) link

Thanks...so he definitely wanted to play. I though he might have gone to Japan, which many players did at the time.

clemenza, Friday, 21 May 2021 15:55 (six months ago) link

not Japan but...

In 1989, Cash played for the Orlando Juice of the Senior Professional Baseball Association. He hit .321 in 35 games with the team. The next season, he played for the Florida Tropics and hit .304 in 14 games before the league folded.

Piven After Midnight (The Yellow Kid), Friday, 21 May 2021 16:00 (six months ago) link

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