How have veteran Cardinals teams performed historically?

The 2024 St. Louis Cardinals pitching corps is going to be one of the oldest in franchise history. Does age equal success in Cardinals' history?

St. Louis Cardinals v Cincinnati Reds
St. Louis Cardinals v Cincinnati Reds / Justin Casterline/GettyImages
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1927 St. Louis Cardinals

In ascending order, the late 1920's had the three oldest pitching staffs in franchise history. The 1927 team checks in as the third-oldest staff with an average pitcher age of 31.4 years. This year's team went 92-61, finished second in the National League, and did not make the playoffs due to the limited format at the time. This team's winning percentage of .601 is one of the best in franchise history.

The players are still similar to the 1928 and 1929 rosters, except they are all one year younger. Jesse Haines (thirty-three) and Grover Alexander (now a spring chicken at forty) led the rotation with sub-3.00 ERAs; Art Reinhart and Hernan Bell led the bullpen in innings pitched and ERA. The team's ERA this year was 3.57, another spectacular year. Regardless of age, the success of the pitching staff between 1927 and 1929 was dependent upon pitcher performance. The pitchers were virtually the same, their ages were within error of each other; the primary difference lies in how well those veterans performed.

2003 St. Louis Cardinals

Ah, the modern era. The 2003 St. Louis Cardinals were very much a transition team. Marc McGwire and the dismal teams of the 1990s were gone, and Albert Pujols was still very early in his career, so early in fact that he was the team's primary left fielder at the time. The average age for a pitcher on this team was 31.2, the same as the projected age for the 2024 Cardinals. The team finished 85-77, and they missed the playoffs entirely.

Three starting pitchers were thirty or older at the time (Woody Williams, thirty-six; Brett Tomko, thirty; and Garrett Stephenson, thirty-one), so the starting rotation wasn't overly aged. The bullpen, on the other hand, featured multiple pitchers over thirty. Jason Isringhausen was exactly thirty, Jeff Fassero was forty, Cal Eldred was thirty-five, and Steve Kline was also thirty. Team ERA finished at 4.60, and three starters had ERAs north of 4.50.

The 2024 St. Louis Cardinals' pitching staff is littered with veterans, particularly in the starting rotation. When analyzing the team's history, it is clear that pitchers older than thirty are able to succeed and lead a team. Last year, Miles Mikolas, Lance Lynn, and Kyle Gibson all had ERAs above 4.70; should they repeat those performances, our veteran players may lead the team to an early offseason. If they can all turn back the clock and pitch using their guile and experience, the team could have a great season.

Pitchers in their thirties aren't a recipe for disaster; Major League Baseball has featured ample veteran teams that succeeded. Let's hope a starting rotation with an average age just over thirty-five can lead the 2024 St. Louis Cardinals to success.

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