Winning an MVP Award at any age is a notable accomplishment, but doing so later in one’s career is perhaps more impressive, as a testament to longevity. We’ve looked at the oldest Cy Young Award winners, too.
There have been 11 MVP Awards won by players after turning 35 – by age at the end of that season. Two were prior to the divisional era (since 1969): Spud Chandler in 1943 (36 years, 21 days old) and Hank Sauer in 1952 (35 years, 195 days).
That means there have been nine winners since ’69 to be at least 35 years old at the end of that season. In 2022, the Cardinals’ Paul Goldschmidt became ninth-oldest on that list.
Here’s a look at the nine oldest MVP winners by age at the end of the season in the divisional era.
2004 Barry Bonds (SF): 40 years, 71 days old
When you win a record seven MVP Awards, you’re going to show up on this list a few times – four, to be exact. Bonds won the NL batting title, hitting .362, and led the Majors in on-base percentage (.609) and slugging (.812), with a whopping 232 walks. He won over second-place finisher Adrian Beltre of the Dodgers.
1979 Willie Stargell (PIT): 39 years, 208 days old
Stargell tied for the award with the Cardinals’ Keith Hernandez, the only tie in MVP Award history. Stargell received 10 first-place votes, the most of any player in the NL. He had previously finished top-three for MVP in 1971-73, finishing second in ’71 and ’73, but this was his first win. He hit 32 home runs and slugged .552 in 126 games in ’79.
2003 Barry Bonds (SF): 39 years, 66 days old
In his sixth MVP season, Bonds led MLB in walks with 148, correspondingly leading in on-base percentage at .529. He slugged .749 to lead MLB and had a .341 batting average. He won the award ahead of the Cardinals’ Albert Pujols in second.
2002 Barry Bonds (SF): 38 years, 67 days old
Bonds’ fifth MVP Award came unanimously, with Pujols again in second. Bonds led MLB in batting average (.370), on-base percentage (.582) and slugging (.799). He was walked 198 times and crushed 46 homers, driving in 110 runs overall.
1992 Dennis Eckersley (OAK): 38 years, 1 day old
Eckersley won both the AL Cy Young and MVP honors, finishing ahead of the Twins’ Kirby Puckett for the latter. He led MLB with 51 saves, at the time the second-highest single-season total behind Bobby Thigpen’s 57 in 1990. Eckersley had a 1.91 ERA and 0.91 WHIP. It was his first MVP Award.
2001 Barry Bonds (SF): 37 years, 75 days old
In his fourth MVP season, Bonds set the single-season home run record with 73. He also led the Majors in walks (177), on-base (.515) and slugging (.863). He hit .328 and drove in 137 runs. He won ahead of the Cubs’ Sammy Sosa, who hit 64 homers of his own, with an MLB-leading 160 RBIs.
1986 Mike Schmidt (PHI): 37 years, 8 days old
This was Schmidt’s third MVP Award. The third baseman led the NL with 37 homers and 119 RBIs. He led his league in slugging, too, at .547. Schmidt won the award ahead of the Astros’ Glenn Davis in second place.
1981 Rollie Fingers (MIL): 35 years, 41 days old
Fingers won AL Cy Young and MVP in ’81, winning the latter ahead of Oakland’s Rickey Henderson in second place. He led the Majors with 28 saves, and had a 1.04 ERA in 47 appearances, with an 0.87 WHIP. It was Fingers’ first MVP Award.
2022 Paul Goldschmidt (STL): 35 years, 25 days old
Goldschmidt wasn’t just the ninth-oldest MVP winner since ‘69, he was the fourth-oldest of those to be a first-time winner. He hit .317 with a .404 OBP and led the NL with a .578 slugging percentage. He finished ahead of the Padres’ Manny Machado in second place.