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    Thursday, November 16, 2023

    As 2023 Comes to a Close, the Number of 2000s Players Continues to Rapidly Decrease

    Almost exactly two years ago, I made note of a shocking trend: we were losing 2000s players at an alarming rate. And in the short time since the 2023 season ended, we’ve seen a number of high-profile retirements, which has made me want to look into the matter again.

    But first, I wanted to quickly remind everyone of some basics. First, when I refer to “2000s Players”, I’m of course talking about players who debuted between 2000 to 2009, not just “any players who have debuted since 2000”. This topic is kind of a follow-up to something I looked at almost a decade ago, trying to predict who would be the final active player from the 1990s. Once we ran out of 1990s players, it seemed natural to move on to the next decade, so I figured I’d shelve the issue until around 2024 or so.

    Except when Buster Posey announced his surprise retirement back in 2021, I began poking around in Baseball-Reference and realized that the topic was coming up on us much quicker than I ever expected. You see, historically, “The Last Active Player from a Decade” has been shockingly predictable:

    Last Player from the 1920s: Satchel Paige made it to 1965 if you count his comeback publicity stunt; if you only count regular players, Paige tied with Bobo Newsom (retired 1953)
    Last Player from the 1930s: Early Wynn (1963)
    Last Player from the 1940s: Minnie Miñoso (1980) if you count his comeback publicity stunts, otherwise Willie Mays (1973)
    Last Player from the 1950s: Jim Kaat (1983)
    Last Player from the 1960s: Carlton Fisk and Nolan Ryan (1993)
    Last Player from the 1970s: Rickey Henderson and Jesse Orosco (2003)
    Last Player from the 1980s: Jamie Moyer and Omar Vizquel (2012)

    Maybe it’s just me, but I find that stability hilarious: for six straight decades, the last active player would hang up their cleats exactly 24 years after the decade ended. The 1980s saw that slip to 23 years, which is maybe a little unusual, but ultimately not really a meaningful difference.

    …Except that, with the benefit of hindsight, maybe it was a sign of things to come? After all of that, our final 1990s players wound up being Adrián Beltré and Bartolo Colon, who both called it quits* after the 2018 season, or five years early if you go by that 24-year rule.

    *Technically, Colon would go play in the Mexican League in 2021, but his MLB days ended in 2018.

    And if you were hoping that 2000s players might prove to be a rebound here, you’re probably going to be disappointed; for as aggressive as the last decade was at pushing 1990s players out of the league, things are only looking worse for 2000s players this decade. In fact, we’ve generally been a year ahead of the already-accelerated schedule that decade was on:

    Thursday, November 2, 2023

    2023 World Series Trivia: Best Players Without a World Series, and More!

    The 2023 World Series has ended, with the Texas Rangers defeating the Arizona Diamondbacks and winning their first championship, in what is just the third-ever all-expansion team World Series. And as is tradition here, I have published a new Sporcle quiz: Best Active Players Without a World Series, 2023 Edition. I’ll write a little more after the break, but I’ll give the spoiler-averse among us a chance to try it before hitting all of that.

    Additionally, I’ve updated my other new quiz, Stars with World Series wins on surprising teams, so if you missed that, maybe give it a look as well! I also updated my other postseason quizzes as well to reflect their win (although the WPA ones might need to wait a day or two, since pulling the data for those is a little more work). 

    Anyway, the Rangers’ win brings an end to what was the second-longest World Series drought, at 62 seasons (behind only the Guardians, who are at 75 years). The Brewers and Padres take over second place, as the two 1969 expansion teams have not won a championship in their 55 years (the other half of that expansion, the Royals and Expos/Nationals, are both covered). That also leaves those two teams with the Mariners, Rockies, and Rays as the only five teams left in MLB without a title.

    That really is a remarkable thing, too; 62 years was tied for the seventh-longest drought in history with the Senators/Twins (1924-1987). That also means that six of the fourteen longest World Series droughts in MLB history (all 50+ years) have ended since the turn of the millennium (the Cubs, White Sox, Red Sox, Rangers, Giants, Astros, and Expos/Nationals).

    Additionally, the Rangers’ turnaround from 2022 (when they went 68-94) represents the biggest single-season improvement for a World Series winner in history. And I think their win will hopefully give pause to the idea that signing free agents is a bad team-building strategy, given how many people seemed to want to point to the collapse of the Mets and historical bad luck of the Padres in the final days of the regular season (I was never sure why the Phillies were again being ignore here). Yeah, things didn’t work out in 2022, but you are actually signing the best of these players for the long-haul!