This one goes out to my fellow brethren who have to strap on a knee brace and pop a few anti-inflammatories to survive the weekly bouts of "exercise" on our bottom-division, slow-pitch softball leagues.
It's Major League Baseball's All-Geriatric Team for the 2023 campaign.
Every player on this 26-man roster—as well as each of the 14 additional "inevitable injury replacements"—is in his age-35 (or older) season.
And still playing quite well, I might add. The middle-infield situation is a bit rough, and the outfield would allow more than its fair share of doubles and triples in the gaps, but this fictitious roster is plenty talented enough to contend for a World Series title.
It's really just a question of whether it would physically survive a 162-game season and still be in good shape for October.
Catcher: Martín Maldonado
2022 Production: 113 games, .186/.248/.352, 15 HR, 45 RBI
Five years ago, Martín Maldonado was one of the top defensive catchers. From 2015-18, he threw out 40.6 percent of would-be base-stealers, earning a Gold Glove in 2017.
That cannon isn't quite what it used to be, though. Maldonado allowed 46 stolen bases with a 74 percent success rate last year, and that's a sizable concern with pilfering likely to be on the rise in 2023 with larger bases and limits on pick-off attempts.
That said, Maldonado remains one of the best pitch-framers and game-callers in the business, serving as the primary backstop for what has been an excellent Astros pitching staff over the past two years.
You do need to bury this turns-37-in-August veteran at the bottom of the lineup, though.
Maldonado has some pop in his bat, hitting a career-best 15 home runs last season. However, he's a career .209 hitter who has been sitting at .179 over the past two years combined.
First Base: Paul Goldschmidt
2022 Production: 151 games, .317/.404/.578, 35 HR, 115 RBI, 7 SB
Most of the hitters on this list are undeniably past their prime.
Paul Goldschmidt, on the other hand, just had the best season of his career, named NL MVP after leading the league in both slugging and OPS (.981).
Goldschmidt hit .404 with 10 home runs in the month of May and had a similar run (.365 with 13 home runs) in his first 28 games played after the All-Star Break.
His fantastic campaign got a bit overshadowed in our national infatuation with Aaron Judge's quest for 62 and Albert Pujols' quest for 700. But when Goldy was in a groove, no one was better.
He did start to run out of steam shortly before his 35th birthday, though. Goldy hit .235 with just two home runs over his final 33 games played, and went 0-for-7 with four strikeouts in St. Louis' brief stay in the postseason. That's something worth keeping in mind if you're putting together a fantasy team in which you aren't restricted by age when choosing a first baseman.
Among hitters in this exercise, though, Goldschmidt is easily the first choice as the only one who hit at least 20 home runs last season.