Major League Baseball (MLB) is a demanding sport with a rigorous schedule that includes 162 games in a single season, spanning over six months. This intense routine, coupled with constant travel and media attention, often leads to early retirements for players.
The Average Retirement Age in MLB
The average retirement age for MLB players is approximately 29.5 years, making it the oldest retirement age in the sports field in the USA. This statistic may seem surprising given the longevity of careers in other professions. However, considering the physical demands and high-stress environment of professional baseball, this early retirement age begins to make sense.
Factors Influencing Retirement Age
The retirement age can vary widely depending on several factors. For instance, the position a player holds can significantly impact their career length and consequently, their retirement age. Designated hitters, who bat in place of the pitcher, have the lowest average retirement age at 27.5 years. On the other hand, short-stops, who play a defensive role, have the highest average retirement age at 31.5 years. This difference is primarily due to the higher injury risk associated with offensive positions compared to defensive ones.
Career Length and Earnings
The average career length for an MLB player, once they break into the majors, is approximately 5.6 years. Despite the relatively short career span, MLB players earn handsomely. As of 2022, the average MLB salary was $4.41 million, up from $4.17 million in 2021. Therefore, considering the average career length, an MLB player's career earnings would be around $24.70 million. These figures do not include endorsement deals or other potential bonuses.
Retirement Benefits for MLB Players
Despite the early retirement age, MLB offers its players robust retirement plan options. These include a 401(k) plan, pension plan vesting after only 43 days on the active roster, lifetime health insurance, and access to disability and long-term care insurance. Players who retire after the age of 55 can receive $760 per credited season, while those who retire at the age of 45 can expect $430 per credited season.