Bravos at 40
Happy birthday to Chipper, one of the few players to reach his 40th while playing for the Braves.
We’ll be happy if he matches the Hammer’s output at 40: .268-20-69 in 112 games, with a .341 OBP and .491 slugging percentage. The year before Aaron homered 40 times with a 1.045 OPS.
Julio Franco was 42 when signed out of the Mexican League in 2001. He surprised everyone hitting .300 with a .376 OBP in 101 AB’s. He spent 6 years with the Bravos and nearly matched his career BA and OBP.
In 1969, Braves GM Paul Richards traded 20-year-old Mickey Rivers (who hit .295 and stole 267 bases in 15 big league seasons) for 46-year-old Hoyt Wilhelm, who helped the Braves win their first division title in Atlanta but arrived too late to be eligible for the postseason roster. They could’ve used him — in Game 1 against the Mets the Bravos led 5-4 going into the 8th but Luman Harris, with few options in the ‘pen, kept Phil Niekro in for one inning too many and New York would go on to sweep the series.
Speaking of Knucksie, no Brave handled 40 more smoothly. He won 21, a heckuva feat on that team, and completed 23 games in 342 innings, nearly twice as many as Eddie (call me Buddy Jay) Solomon, second on the Braves in IP.
There’s not much to say about Darrell Evans and Graig Nettles, who celebrated their 42nd birthday as Braves, except I’d pay big for a “Bomb Squad” poster.
Did I forget anyone?
(Yes I did — a 40-year-old John Smoltz struck out 197 in 205 IP in ’07, winning 14 with a WHIP below 1.2.)