Power Ranking Every Active MLB Player Age 40 or Older

Six active MLB players are in their forties, and three more will hit the big 4-0 in 2024. How do all these elder statesmen stack up?

HOUSTON, TEXAS - SEPTEMBER 28: Justin Verlander #35 of the Houston Astros reacts to striking out Pavin Smith #26 of the Arizona Diamondbacks to get out of the seventh inning with two men on base at Minute Maid Park on September 28, 2022 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

I’ve always had a soft spot for the elder statesmen of the game. While prospects and young stars tend to get more attention – who doesn’t like a shiny new toy? – there is something remarkable about longevity, too. And I don’t just mean guys like Justin Verlander, who casually won his third Cy Young and picked up a record-tying contract ahead of his age-40 season.

Everyone ages differently, but there’s no “bad” way to reach your forties as a pro baseball player. There’s Verlander, who’s been dominating opposing hitters since he was 23. Conversely, there’s Charlie Morton, who didn’t break out until his age-33 campaign.

I’m equally invested in Zack Greinke and his gradual decline from stardom; Joey Votto and his brief renaissance before falling back off a cliff; and Rich Hill, who was never a star but just keeps plugging along.

To celebrate these veterans and their achievements, I present a power ranking of all six active players in their forties, plus three more who will hit the big 4-0 this coming season. There’s a gulf between the player ranked first and the player ranked last on this list, but simply by making it to this point, all nine of these athletes have accomplished something pretty terrific.

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1. Justin Verlander (Turns 41 in February)

2023 Stats: 27 starts, 162.1 IP, 3.22 ERA, 3.69 xERA, 3.3 fWAR

Justin Verlander turned in one of the greatest age-39 seasons of all time in 2022, returning from Tommy John to be named the unanimous AL Cy Young. He wasn’t quite as dominant in 2023, but the nine-time All-Star still put up solid numbers in his age-40 campaign.

Verlander lost a bit of heat on his fastball this past season, but he still boasts above-average velocity for a starting pitcher and one of the nastier sliders around.

Eventually, Father Time will come knocking on his door, but there’s no reason to think Verlander won’t be an above-average starter once again in 2024.

2. Charlie Morton (Turns 41 in November)

2023 Stats: 30 starts, 163.1 IP, 3.64 ERA, 4.70 xERA, 2.7 fWAR

HOUSTON, TX – OCTOBER 26: Charlie Morton #50 of the Atlanta Braves pitches in the first inning during Game 1 of the 2021 World Series between the Atlanta Braves and the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on Tuesday, October 26, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Rob Tringali/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Verlander’s former Astros teammate, Charlie Morton has been one of the most reliable pitchers in baseball after turning his career around in Houston.

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Since his age-33 season in 2017, Morton has made 191 starts with a 3.55 ERA. Only six pitchers have started more games, and only one, Gerrit Cole, has done so with a lower ERA.

While he turned 40 this past November, Morton is showing no signs of slowing down. The veteran still throws a 95-mph heater, and his curveball remains one of the most dominant breaking pitches in the game. No wonder he still strikes out more than 10 batters per nine.

3. Justin Turner (Turns 40 in November)

2023 Stats: 626 PA, 23 HR, .276/.345/.455, 114 wRC+, 1.2 fWAR

Including Justin Turner on this list is a stretch, but if he makes a deep playoff run, he will turn 40 before his 2024 season is up. Besides, I had to include more hitters than just Joey Votto and Yuli Gurriel, neither of whom is a lock to play next season.

Turner didn’t break out until his age-29 campaign, his first with the Dodgers, but he has been an above-average hitter in every season since. His walk rate isn’t as high as it used to be, but he still gets on base at a well-above-average rate thanks to elite contact skills and a penchant for hitting line drives.

Wherever he winds up playing next season, Turner should be a capable first baseman/DH, especially against left-handed pitching, with the skills to cover second or third base in a pinch.

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4. Max Scherzer (Turns 40 in July)

2023 Stats: 27 starts, 152.2 IP, 3.77 ERA, 3.28 xERA, 2.2 fWAR

If Max Scherzer were healthy, he’d easily take the number two spot on this list. Unfortunately, the three-time Cy Young winner underwent back surgery this offseason, and he’ll be out until mid-2024.

There’s no telling what he’ll look like when he returns, either. Pitchers like Verlander who make phenomenal returns from major surgery in their late thirties are the exception, not the rule.

That said, Scherzer has been an exception himself for most of his career. Most pitchers don’t win three Cy Youngs or finish top-five eight times in nine years. Most pitchers don’t post the two lowest ERAs of their career in their age-36 and 37 seasons. TL;DR Most pitchers aren’t Max Scherzer.

5. Zack Greinke (Turns 41 in October)

2023 Stats: 30 games (27 starts), 142.1 IP, 5.06 ERA, 5.06 xERA, 1.1 fWAR

Zack Greinke hasn’t defied the aging curve quite like the pitchers ahead of him on this list, but he experienced a graceful decline throughout his late thirties. After more than a decade of stardom, Greinke has been a solid if unspectacular pitcher for the last four years.

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In 2023, his ERA was worse than league average for the first time since 2005, but nonetheless, he ate valuable innings for the Royals, and he’ll hope to do the same for his new team this coming season.

6. Jesse Chavez (Turns 41 in August)

2023 Stats: 36 games, 34.2 IP, 1.56 ERA, 3.55 xERA, 0.7 fWAR

Jesse Chavez has had plenty of ups and downs throughout his long major league career, switching teams no less than 16 times. He has played for nine different clubs and has been traded more often than any other player in MLB history.

Nevertheless, he’s been pretty great for the Braves over the past three years, especially if you ignore his brief stints with the Cubs and Angels that took place in between his second, third, and fourth stints in Atlanta. (I know, it’s confusing.)

In 112 games with the Braves dating back to 2021, Chavez has posted a 2.23 ERA, 2.69 FIP, and 2.6 fWAR. He has racked up 136 strikeouts, more than 10 per nine innings, and given up just seven home runs. On top of that, he has a 1.86 ERA in nine postseason games.

While Chavez lost velocity on all of his pitches in 2023, he also posted the lowest ERA and highest K% of his career. With the way he was throwing the baseball last year, there’s no reason to suspect he’s on the decline.

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7. Rich Hill (Turns 44 in March)

2023 Stats: 32 games (27 starts), 146.1 IP, 5.41 ERA, 5.70 xERA, 0.7 fWAR

Year in and year out, Rich Hill just keeps going. He already ranks 19th all-time in starts made post-40, and with another full season, he could rise to 15th. They’re not going to be particularly good starts, but innings are innings, and Hill will surely find a team that needs him to get outs in 2024.

Side note: Four of the five starters on this list made 27 starts last season. Coincidence? Yes. But still a fun fact!

8. Joey Votto (Turns 41 in September)

2023 Stats: : 242 PA, 14 HR, .202/.314/.433, 98 wRC+, 0.0 fWAR

CINCINNATI, OHIO – AUGUST 19: Joey Votto #19 of the Cincinnati Reds smiles and claps during a game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Great American Ball Park on August 19, 2023 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Cincinnati Reds/Getty Images)

After returning to form in 2021, Joey Votto has struggled to stay above the Mendoza line each of the past two seasons. Hopefully, he can latch on with a new team looking for a right-handed bench bat, but it seems like his career is drawing to a close. It was certainly fun while it lasted.

9. Yuli Gurriel (Turns 40 in June)

2023 Stats: 329 PA, 4 HR, .245/.304/.359, 77 wRC+, -0.5 fWAR

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Yuli Gurriel might have even less remaining in the tank than Votto, and he doesn’t have the “former MVP” label to help him in free agency. Following two straight disappointing seasons, the former batting champ might have trouble finding a new home, but he hasn’t announced any plans to retire just yet.