The Phillies achieved a rare but ignominious feat on Saturday

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The Phillies are old, but at least they have been mostly healthy for the majority of the 2014 season. Perhaps no stat better illustrates that than this one from the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Matt Gelb:

The Phillies, on Saturday, became just the second team since 1901 to have four 34-or-older players each accumulate 550 plate appearances. (The 2008 Yankees – Bobby Abreu, Johnny Damon, Jason Giambi, and Derek Jeter – also did it.) No major-league team has ever had four such players reach 600 plate appearances, a realistic milestone for these Phillies.

Those to reach the 550 plate appearance echelon include the three Phillies mainstays — Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, and Ryan Howard — as well as Marlon Byrd. Byrd also hit a home run on Saturday at Citi Field, setting a career-high with 25 on the season. It just so happened to be his 37th birthday as well.

According to Baseball Reference, the Phillies’ position players are 31 years old on average, nearly two full years ahead of the next-oldest team, the Dodgers at 29.4. As for pitchers, the Phillies’ 30.2 average is second behind the Giants at 31.8.

All four are under contract for at least the 2015 season. Byrd will earn $8 million and has a club option for $8 million 2016 that can become guaranteed by hitting a plate appearance threshold. Rollins guaranteed his $11 million option for 2015 in late July when he took his 1,100th plate appearance combined between 2013-14. Utley will earn $10 million next season before going year-to-year with $15 million vesting options between 2016-18. Howard will earn $25 million in 2015 and in ’16, and has a $23 million club option for ’17 that comes with a $10 million buyout.

Minor League Baseball had its worst attendance in 14 years

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Baseball American reports today that total attendance at minor league baseball games reached a 14-year low in 2018. Total attendance was 40,450,337. That’s a drop of 1,382,027 fans compared to last season.

Around a third of that drop is attributable to fewer scheduled games but, as Baseball America notes, even when you go to average attendance per game, there was a sharp drop off this season. BA suggests that this represents a leveling off after over a decade’s worth of large increases in minor league attendance. Which sound pretty plausible. Overall, attendance numbers are still massively above where they were 15-20 years ago, so this seems more like a correction than a real problem. The BA article goes into some good analysis of the decline.

All of that said, revenues are up for the minors, in large part because of merchandise sales and because minor league ballparks have a lot more amenities and better concessions than they used to have and fans are willing to pay for them.