Jamie Moyer’s Playing Career Likely Over

MLB Trade Rumors reports, via Dionisio Soldevila’s Twitter, that free agent left-hander Jamie Moyer injured his elbow during his latest outing in the Dominican winter league. It is the same elbow that forced him onto the disabled list in late July and means that, barring a miracle, Moyer’s playing career is over.

Moyer finishes his career as one of baseball’s most unique pitchers, having been a reliable hurler deep into his 40′s. He is the only pitcher in baseball history to strike out at least eight hitters in a game at age 47 or older. Moyer also became the oldest pitcher to throw a complete game shut-out:

Player Age Date Tm Opp Rslt
Jamie Moyer 47.170 2010-05-07 PHI ATL W 7-0
Phil Niekro 46.188 1985-10-06 NYY TOR W 8-0
Charlie Hough 46.160 1994-06-14 FLA STL W 7-0
Satchel Paige 46.075 1952-09-20 (2) SLB CHW W 4-0
Satchel Paige 46.030 1952-08-06 SLB DET W 1-0
Jack Quinn 45.076 1928-09-15 PHA CLE W 5-0
Jack Quinn 45.040 1928-08-10 PHA WSH W 8-0
Phil Niekro 45.023 1984-04-24 NYY KCR W 4-0
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 11/7/2010.

Unlike many players even in their late 30′s, Moyer was remarkably effective and reliable as he aged. He made at least 32 starts in each of his age 40-45 seasons and would have done so in 2009 had he not been moved to the bullpen. Rounding up, Moyer averaged fewer than six innings only once in his 40′s (2009). In 2008, Moyer joined Phil Niekro and Charlie Hough as pitchers 45 or older who posted an adjusted ERA of 100 or better.

Player ERA+ Year Age Tm
Phil Niekro 123 1984 45 NYY
Jamie Moyer 118 2008 45 PHI
Charlie Hough 101 1993 45 FLA
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 11/7/2010.

Moyer’s most important contributions to the Phillies may not have come on the mound, however. Since he was sent to Philadelphia from Seattle, the crafty lefty made a habit of seeking out the young pitchers in the clubhouse and offering to talk shop. He was integral in Cole Hamels‘ progression, as noted by Jerry Crasnick:

When he dispenses advice, it’s more big-picture than baseball specific. “Keep your mouth closed and your ears and eyes open,” Moyer might say. Or he’ll discuss the importance of preparation. “The one day you slack off or fail to work hard, it becomes easier to slack off the next day,” Moyer tells Hamels.

When the two left-handers play catch, Moyer makes it a point to hold his glove across his body, because that forces Hamels to stretch his arm and get extra extension on his throws. It’s the kind of small, subtle detail that fosters good habits over time.

When Moyer hit the DL earlier this year, Hamels told reporters that the old man was a mentor not just to him, but to everybody on the pitching staff.

Even Raul Ibanez called Moyer a mentor:

Moyer, whom Ibanez calls a mentor and was one of the first people he called when considering signing with the Phillies last winter, sounds less like a teammate and more like a father listing criteria for his daughter’s suitors when he recalls what he liked about the young player.

“He was respectful, humble, even-keeled, responsible, hardworking,” Moyer says.

Moyer was, some might say, the Phillies’ second pitching coach after Rich Dubee. Many think he’ll be welcomed with open arms into coaching or managing once he officially calls it quits. It seems like a natural transition after defying the odds until he was nearly 50 years old.

Although he was not expected to be a part of the 2011 Phillies squad, Moyer earned millions of new fans in Philadelphia with his yeoman’s work ethic and community outreach. Whatever he decides to do now that his playing career is over, whether it’s coaching or continuing his charitable efforts, he will be remembered as one of baseball’s all-time great competitors and as an all-around great person.