Most players peak in their mid- to late-20s before declining after age 30. But not every player adheres to the typical trajectory.
Several contending teams have benefited from unlikely resurgences or career years by players who have struggled in recent seasons and have already reached the point on the aging curve at which it would have been expected for their declines to continue.
Who are they? How have they turned back the clock? And most importantly, can their surprising success continue? Let's look at five over-30 players who could affect the races down the stretch.
What he's done: The Reds are 65-38 since their .500 April and 25-10 since losing Joey Votto to knee surgery in mid-July. No player has been more responsible for that run than Ludwick. He was a below-average batter with the San Diego Padres in the past two seasons, even after adjusting for Petco Park's pitcher friendliness, and when he hit .207/.289/.405 through June 6 this season, Reds fans called for his playing time to be curtailed. Then he got hot. Ludwick's .340 TAv since the start of June ranks seventh among hitters with at least 200 plate appearances, and his .356 TAv since the start of July ranks third (minimum 150 PA), behind only Miguel Cabrera and Albert Pujols.