The Problem of Age Verification of International Players
I did some light googling on this topic earlier today and was surprised at the prevalence of the age-cheaters. As of right now, more than 300 mlb players have signed with a team after presenting the team with a false birth certificate. I was also surprised to read that between 1987 and 2005, the number of Dominican players alone jumped from 50 to 1,443. So clearly, this is has become a big problem facing MLB.
DNA tests and bone scans have reduced the risk and become the preferred method of age verification. I wasn’t able to find how successful these methods have been to the process or how many international players participate in these tests.
It’s not surprising to me, at all, that this goes on. Young players from the DR are never gonna *walk* their way out of their impoverished homeland. That’s why they all seem to have walk rates of like 5-6% when they make it to the major leagues. And if an edge is to be gained by lowering their age, that’s something that’s understandable, too. If it helps them *get out* and other players are doing it too, it’s easily seen why a player might try to fudge his age by 2 or 3 years. In addition to appearing younger, it allows them to face younger, and theoretically “inferior”, competition as they rise through the ranks of their developmental leagues. That’s another possible landmine for an MLB scout to side step…….
I’m not too worried about signing a guy who’s 18 when he’s actually 16. I almost prefer it since he’s more likely to get to the big leagues sooner if he’s a little older. I think it’d be a bigger issue for a team that finds out that a player they sign to a 5 year/75 million dollar contract is actually 32, not 30.
And I would guess there’s about an 80% chance that Albert Pujols is 35 or 36 and not his currently reported 33. Good luck to the Angels who still owe him 9 years/224 million. Think about that, they still owe him a 1/4 of a billion dollars and his production is already in a pretty serious decline. “A-Rod of the West”–likely.