Are The Yankees Still An "Old" Team?

I recall a plethora of chatter surrounding age concerns regarding the New York Yankees as I advanced through late middle school and early high school. Talk radio shows, not the ideal place for reasonable sports talk, were blowing up with callers screaming that the Yankees were getting too old and that the team needed to become younger before they'd suddenly have the ability to win the World Series.

Was that actually the case at the time? Are the Yankees a bunch of old goats today? Let's found out.

Using the wondrous information available to me at Baseball-Reference, I was able to compile the following line graph tracing back to 2002.

The blue line represents the weighted average batter age for the Yankees in that year while the red line displays the weighted pitcher age in that specific year. In other words, age of players and the amount of games they played in (or innings tossed, at-bats taken, etc.) during that season are proportionally weighted to be as accurate as possible.

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From the collected data, it's certainly easy to say that the averaged age of the Yankees has decreased over the past ten years. Most notably, younger pitchers have seen more playing time after peaking at an average age of a whopping 34.2 years in 2005. While it's likely just a coincidence, the youngest average age for pitchers occurred in 2009, the same year the Yankees won the World Series.

For batters, the average age fluctuates a bit more. It began at its lowest point, 30.1 years, peaked at 32.5 years in 2005 (yeah, that was an old team), and returned to a stable 30.5 years in 2011.

So in regards to the question "Are the Yankees still an old team?", the answer is no. However, with some players locked up for a few years, we'll see the BatAge climb yet again through the mid 2010's

Now, in the process of thinking about this, I was curious to pull up the average weighted age of World Series winners over the past ten years. Not to suggest that young age correlates with more World Series wins, but it would be fun to take a look anyway.

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The graph above might be a little difficult to see, so I'll breakdown the BatAvg and PitchAvg in a chart below.

Year/Team BatAvg (Years) PitchAvg (Years)
2002 (LAA) 28.5 30.2
2003 (FLA) 27.7 26.3
2004 (BOS) 30.6 32.5
2005 (CHW) 29.2 29.3
2006 (STL) 29.6 28.6
2007 (BOS) 30.2 31.1
2008 (PHI) 30.1 30.6
2009 (NYY) 30.4 29.3
2010 (SF) 29.5 27.9
2011 (STL) 29.3 30.2

A few interesting facts:

  • The Yankees had the second oldest average batting age of the last ten World Series winners and tied for the fourth youngest average pitcher age.
  • Average of all BatAvg was 29.51 and PitchAvg was 29.60 and the largest and smallest values don't variate incredibly far from the means.
  • The Florida Marlins were by far the youngest team to win the World Series since 2003, donning the youngest batters and pitchers.

While World Series winners and age may not necessarily go hand-in-hand, it's evident that there hasn't been a wide assortment of ages amongst championship teams.

Thoughts?

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