April has always been one of my favorite months, mostly because it means the end of winter and the beginning of baseball season. Opening Day is something of a personal holiday for me, and so I don't totally mind that we've now stretched it out to last a full three days.
As a Red Sox fan, this year has a bit of a different feel for me, as the Sox purged half their roster last August and have now fully embraced a youth movement for the first time in years. As I mentioned on Twitter on Monday, the Sox' Opening Day lineup this year was their youngest on average since 1998, when Pedro Martinez made his Boston debut, Nomar Garciaparra was a 24-year-old MVP-caliber shortstop, and Manny Ramirez was a young slugger for the defending AL champion Cleveland Indians. Meanwhile, Jackie Bradley Jr., now the team's starting left fielder, was at home eagerly awaiting his 8th birthday. So yeah, it was a long time ago.
At any rate, my little bit of sleuthing with respect to the Sox' lineup led me to check out some other teams' lineups, to see what kinds of trends I might uncover. While this type of stuff might fall under the category of "Things That Interest Me and Only Me", so be it. I'll share it here anyway, just in case you care.
This year's Red Sox, with an average age right around 28.5 years old (remember, this is of the Opening Day starting lineup, not the whole roster), clocks in as the 8th-youngest lineup out of the 30 major league teams. The five youngest Opening Day lineups belonged to the Royals (27.1 years), Astros (27.5), Mariners (27.6), Nationals (27.7), and Indians (28.0), while the five oldest lineups belonged to the Yankees (31.6 years), Phillies (31.2), Rangers (30.7), Blue Jays (30.4), and Tigers (30.3).
The banged-up Yankees blow pretty much everyone else out of the water in terms of age, thanks in large part to the oldest outfield in baseball—at 34.5 years old, only the Cubs (33.5) come anywhere close. While the Yankees are currently fielding a cobbled-together lineup of rookies and retreads, things wouldn't be much different for them even if they were perfectly healthy. Substituting Jeter, A-Rod, Teixeira, and Granderson for Nunez, Nix, Youkilis, and Wells actually increases the team's average age all the way up to 33.2 years old, a figure that would make them the oldest team in baseball by a margin of more than two years. No matter how you slice it, these guys are old.
All told, the average age of an Opening Day starter this year is 29 years, 39 days, yielding an average birthdate of February 23, 1984. The average birthdate for a Yankee, meanwhile, would be September 14, 1981, and for a Royal, March 11, 1986. In other words, I'd be older than average in any one of these lineups, and that's just a little bit depressing.
By position, Designated Hitters (like these guys), Right Fielders (like these guys), and First Basemen (like these guys) are the oldest on average, whereas Center Fielders (like these guys) and Shortstops (like these guys) are the youngest. There are 41 Opening Day starters who were born in the 1970s, 9 born in the 1990s, and about the same number who are younger than 25 (35 of them) as those who are 35 or older (37 of them). There were no Opening Day starters this year who were 40 or older, though Todd Helton and Ichiro came pretty darn close.
Age not doing it for you? You want to know about these guys' names? Fine, I can do that, too. As far as last names, we had 4 Cabreras, 3 Gonzalezes, and 15 other surnames shared by 2 players (also a Barmes and a Barnes, a Beltran and a Beltre, a Brantley and a Brantly, a Braun and a Brown, and a Gomes and a Gomez).
There were 10 guys named Chris, 7 guys named Justin, 7 Matts and a Matthew, 6 guys named Carlos and one named Carl. We had 5 Michaels, 2 Miguels, and 4 Mikes; 5 Joses and 5 Joshes; 5 Jasons and 2 Jaysons; 5 Brandons and a Brendan. We had 4 AJs, a BJ, a CC, a JJ, a JP, and a guy named RA. And finally, in my personal favorite, there were 3 Johns, 2 Jons, a Juan, a Jonathan, a Jonathon, a Johnny, a Jonny, and a Jhonny. Just spell it however you want, guys, it doesn't make it any more unique.
We also had 7 names that showed up as both a first name and a last name—those would be Desmond, Francisco, Gordon, Jay, Martin, Nelson, and Ryan. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately, depending on your perspective), none of those gentlemen owned the unique distinction of having the same first and last name. I'm holding out hope for a Desmond Desmond somewhere in the near future, and I'm sure there's somebody out there who will oblige.
Do names and ages have anything at all to do with the overall success of a team? Who knows? The favorites out in Vegas this year include one of the youngest teams (Nationals) and some of the oldest teams (Tigers, Blue Jays), with a lot of muddled confusion in between. Let's just hold this one for later, and revisit it all in October. Sound good?