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What is the Average Career Length of an MLB Player? PDF Print E-mail
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Written by The Staff   
Sunday, 15 July 2007 02:12

While Major League Baseball has always been viewed as having playing careers that last longer than other sports, how long do they actually last? The answer: The average length that a rookie has played major league baseball is 5.6 years.

That is part of a study being conducted by three demographers who looked at 5,989 position players who began their careers between 1902 and 1993 and who played 33,272 years of major league baseball.

The results will be published in the August issue of Population Research and Policy Review. As reported by the New York Times:

The authors found advantages in starting a major league career early. The probability of ending a career after one year is 10 percent for players starting at age 20, but rises to 13 percent for players who start at 21, and 36 percent for players who start at 28.

The probability of leaving the league is 20 percent in the first year, but drops to 11 percent or greater in every subsequent year. While a rookie can expect to play 5.6 years, a player in his third season can expect to play six additional years.

Other interesting finds from the study show:

  • 1% of players last 20 years or more.
  • A rookie career, in what the researchers deemed the “Early Years” – 1902 to 1945 – lasted 4.3 years on average.
  • A rookie career, in the “Golden Era” – 1945 to 1968 – lasted 6.47 years on average.
  • A rookie career, in the “Modern Era” – 1968 to 1992 – lasted 6.85 years on average.

The study did not take into account careers started after 1993 as many players after that year are still actively playing in MLB.

The study mentions that other factors, beyond playing skills, impact career length.



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