It looks like a critical period for player development ends around 26. So, if your favorite player hasn't figured it out by then, chances are that he won't.
This is not really news, but adds a layer of complexity to peak age discussions about whether players peak at 27 (many) or 30 (others).
Put another way, the jump between players' age 25 and 26 seasons is the last good (common) chance to improve.With that conclusion in mind, lets take a look at the 2013 Opening Day ages for Mets position players.
CatchersMike Nickeas - 30
Josh Thole - 26
Kelly Shoppach - 32
Josh Thole came into this year a career .276/.350/.356 hitter in 204 big league games. He's plummeted to .237/.299/.294 entering his age 26 season. There's no question concussions marred Thole's 2012. Where he goes from here, moving from 25-26, at an age when players regularly still develop, will be crucial. So, for fans eager to cut bait on Thole, be patient, he should get one more year.
InfieldersIke Davis - 26
Zach Lutz - 26
Daniel Murphy - 28
Ruben Tejada - 23
Justin Turner - 28
David Wright - 30
Is there a reasonable chance that Ike Davis improves on his 2012? Sure.
On the other hand, Daniel Murphy is Daniel Murphy at this point.
OutfieldersMike Baxter - 28
Jason Bay - 34
Lucas Duda - 27
Scott Hairston - 32
Kirk Nieuwenhuis - 25
Andres Torres - 34
Jordany Valdespin - 25
Put simply, Lucas Duda is at an age where players do not generally continue developing dramatically.
At .239/.329/.392, that's bad news for the Mets. Kirk Nieuwenhuis, on the other hand, for all of his troubles, and his 32% strikeout rate in 2012 still is at an age where players do get better.
Age always matters. It matters for prospects and it matters for big leaguers.