Masataka Yoshida is a 30-year-old rookie outfielder for the Boston Red Sox who made a name for himself with the Orix Buffaloes of the Japanese League, where he compiled a .327 batting average along with 133 home runs and 467 RBIs in 762 games.

He was 29 when this season started, and he is a big reason why the Red Sox are in the thick of this year’s American League wild-card race while playing in baseball’s toughest division, the AL East.

Competing with Yoshida for the 2023 AL Rookie of the Year award is 25-year-old Josh Jung of the Texas Rangers team currently battling with the Tampa Bay Rays and Baltimore Orioles for the best record in the AL. Also in the mix is 22-year-old Baltimore shortstop Gunnar Henderson, who is getting much of the credit for the Orioles’ best season in years.

Corbin Carroll is a 22-year-old outfielder for the Arizona Diamondbacks who is the current favorite for the 2023 NL Rookie of the Year award as the Giants and Dodgers battle for first place in a tight NL West division. Carroll was a first-round pick in the 2019 MLB Draft, so it is no surprise that he is excelling.

So, what we have is a very diverse age group among the top contenders for one of baseball’s biggest awards, which got us thinking about how rare it seems that Yoshida is in contention for Rookie of the Year honors at age 30.

Is he an outlier? Let’s take a look at our list of the oldest rookies ever.

Who is the oldest rookie in the 2023 MLB season?

Pirates infielder Drew Maggi made his MLB debut as a pinch-hitter for Andrew McCutchen in the eighth inning of Pittsburgh's 8-1 victory over the Dodgers at PNC Park on April 26. Maggi, who turned 34 on May 16, was a 2010 15th-round draft pick who played 13 seasons and 1,155 games in the minors.

Who is the oldest rookie to debut in MLB history?

That oldest rookie in history was a Hall of Famer whom we have written about extensively on Betway Insider. More on him below.

Who was the oldest MLB Rookie of the Year?

Sam Jethroe of the 1950 Boston Braves is the oldest baseball player to have won a Rookie of the Year award at age 32. He was 33 days older than 2000 winner Kazuhiro Sasaki (also 32).

Who is the oldest MLB rookie to ever make the Hall of Fame?

That honor also falls to the player ranked No. 1 on this list, who went into Cooperstown in 1971. Every baseball fan knows his name.

The 10 Oldest MLB Rookies of all time

  1. Alan Zinter

Age on Day of MLB Debut: 34 years, 30 days
Debut Date: June 18, 2002
Debut Team: Houston Astros
Position: First base
Years Active in MLB: 2
Other Teams: Arizona Diamondbacks

A native of El Paso, Texas, Alan Zinter made his mark in the majors as a hitting coach for the Indians, Astros, Padres, and Reds after a short playing stint that included a .178 career batting average, three home runs and 34 strikeouts in 78 at-bats. In 1999, he played professionally in Japan.

  1. Chi-Chi Olivo

Age on Day of MLB Debut: 35 years, 79 days
Debut Date: June 5, 1961
Debut Team: Milwaukee Braves
Position: Pitcher
Years Active in MLB: 4

The native of Guayubin, Dominican Republic, did not play in the majors until six years after he signed, and he had the dubious distinction of giving up a home run to the very first batter he faced, Jerry Lynch. He returned to the mound the next day, and surrendered three earned runs in just one-third of an inning. He pitched once more three days later but would not return to the majors for another three years.

  1. Minnie Mendoza

Age on Day of MLB Debut: 35 years, 127 days
Debut Date: April 9, 1970
Debut Team: Minnesota Twins
Position: Third base
Years Active in MLB: 1

The native of Cieba del Agua, Cuba, played 16 games and had 16 at-bats, compiling three hits and two runs while recording a .188 batting average. Is this the guy the “Mendoza Line” (a term used to describe a player who hits above or below .200) was named after? Some say yes, and some say it was a reference coined by George Brett regarding another Mendoza, Mario.

  1. Jim Morris

Age on Day of MLB Debut: 35 years, 242 days
Debut Date:
Sept 18, 1999
Debut Team:
Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Years Active in MLB:

The Brownwood, Texas, native was played by Dennis Quaid in the movie The Rookie,” which chronicled Jim Morris’ nine consecutive seasons as a baseball coach and high school teacher from 1990 to 1998 before he tried out for the Devil Rays in 1999. Morris signed with the organization and made his MLB debut later that season, striking out the only batter he faced in his debut.

  1. Hank Izquierdo

Age on Day of MLB Debut: 36 years, 142 days
Debut Date:
Aug. 9, 1967
Debut Team:
Minnesota Twins
Years Active in MLB:

Hank Izquierdo, a native of Pueblo Nuevo, Cuba, played 16 seasons in the minors from 1951 to 1967 (although he did not play in 1962) before making his MLB debut, in which he went 0-for-2 in a 9-7 loss to the Senators. That 1967 season ended up being his lone year in MLB, and he finished 7-for-26 with two RBIs in 16 games.

  1. Billy Williams

Age on Day of MLB Debut: 37 years, 63 days
Debut Date:
Aug. 15, 1969
Debut Team:
Seattle Pilots
Right field
Years Active in MLB:

The Newberry, S.C. native spent most of his career in Cleveland’s organization, reaching Triple-A at age 28 in 1960 before stagnating at that level for the vast majority of the decade. He did not get an at-bat in his debut (a 2-1 loss to the Orioles), and he finished 0-for-10 in his lone MLB season.

  1. Joe Strong

Age on Day of MLB Debut: 37 years, 245 days
Debut Date:
May 11, 2000
Debut Team:
Florida Marlins
Years Active in MLB:

Sixteen years after hearing his name called on draft day, the Fairfield, Calif., native made his MLB debut, throwing 1⅓ shutout innings in a 5-4 win over the Braves. Strong finished his MLB career with a 5.81 ERA in 26⅓ innings from 2000 to 2001. He also pitched in Mexico, Japan, and China.

  1. Ken Takahashi

Age on Day of MLB Debut: 40 years, 14 days
Debut Date:
May 2, 2009
Debut Team:
New York Mets
Years Active in MLB:

After receiving a spring training invite from the Toronto Blue Jays, Ken Takahashi, a native of Yokohama, Japan, was released and signed by the Mets for the 2009 season. He appeared in 28 games as a reliever and had a 2.96 ERA.

  1. Diomedes Olivo

Age on Day of MLB Debut: 41 years, 202 days
Debut Date:
Sept. 5, 1960
Debut Team:
Pittsburgh Pirates
Years Active in MLB:
Other Teams:
St. Louis Cardinals

A native of Guayubin, Dominican Republic, Diomedes Olivo's best MLB season came in 1962. At age 43, he worked in 62 games, all but one in relief, and posted a 5–1 record with a 2.77 ERA and seven saves. He then was included with shortstop Dick Groat in a major offseason trade to the Cardinals, but while Groat sparkled in St. Louis, Olivo lost all five of his decisions and spent part of 1963 in the minor leagues.

  1. Satchel Paige

Age on Day of MLB Debut: 42 years, 2 days
Debut Date: July 8, 1948 (American League debut)
Debut Team: Cleveland Indians
Position: Pitcher
Years Active in MLB: 1927 to 1947 (Negro Leagues), 1948 to 1953, 1965 (American League)
Other Teams: Birmingham Black Barons, Cleveland Cubs, Pittsburgh Crawfords, Kansas City Monarchs, New York Black Yankees, Memphis Red Sox, St. Louis Browns, Kansas City Athletics 

Hall of Famer Satchel Paige, from Mobile, Ala., was the first black pitcher to play in the American League and was the seventh black player to play in Major League Baseball. Also in 1948, Paige became the first player who had played in the Negro Leagues to pitch in the World Series; his Indians won the Series that year.

Related: Jackie Robinson's MLB rookie campaign resonates beyond statistics, as he had to endure substantially more off the field than any other athlete in history. Find out who had the 10 best MLB rookie seasons of all time.

Parameters of Ranking

This one is all in the numbers, folks. Baseball historians chronicle their stuff quite well, and there is encyclopedic information on every player who ever donned a major league uniform. Some web sites are more reliable than others, and we recommend using when looking for the most accurate information.

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