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Active players who have played for just one franchise

Posted by Andy on June 13, 2011

Check out the top 25 active players for most PAs with just one team in the majors:

Rk Player PA From To Age G Pos Tm
1 Derek Jeter 10829 1995 2011 21-37 2354 *6/D NYY
2 Chipper Jones 9902 1993 2011 21-39 2319 *57/6D9 ATL
3 Todd Helton 8442 1997 2011 23-37 1985 *3/79D COL
4 Ichiro Suzuki 7624 2001 2011 27-37 1651 *98/D SEA
5 Jimmy Rollins 7177 2000 2011 21-32 1554 *6/4 PHI
6 Albert Pujols 7067 2001 2011 21-31 1623 *375/9D64 STL
7 Michael Young 6985 2000 2011 23-34 1572 *645/D3 TEX
8 Jorge Posada 6945 1995 2011 23-39 1762 *2D/3 NYY
9 Jason Varitek 5692 1997 2011 25-39 1508 *2/D BOS
10 Brian Roberts 5532 2001 2011 23-33 1233 *4/6D BAL
11 Brandon Inge 5054 2001 2011 24-34 1349 *52/879D DET
12 Jose Reyes 4539 2003 2011 20-28 984 *6/4 NYM
13 David Wright 4507 2004 2011 21-28 1043 *5/D NYM
14 Chase Utley 4396 2003 2011 24-32 1022 *4/3D PHI
15 Mark Ellis 4287 2002 2011 25-34 1053 *4/6D53 OAK
16 Michael Cuddyer 4214 2001 2011 22-32 1058 *935/4D78 MIN
17 Justin Morneau 4180 2003 2011 22-30 1003 *3/D MIN
18 Ryan Howard 4042 2004 2011 24-31 938 *3/D PHI
19 Robinson Cano 3986 2005 2011 22-28 954 *4/D NYY
20 Grady Sizemore 3887 2004 2011 21-28 851 *8/D CLE
21 Prince Fielder 3792 2005 2011 21-27 900 *3/D MIL
22 Nick Markakis 3639 2006 2011 22-27 846 *9/78D3 BAL
23 Joe Mauer 3616 2004 2011 21-28 845 *2D MIN
24 Kevin Youkilis 3547 2004 2011 25-32 850 *35/7D49 BOS
25 Aaron Hill 3415 2005 2011 23-29 818 *4/6D5 TOR
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 6/12/2011.

Two things stand out to me right away:

  • It's amazing how little service time many of these guys have and still make the top 25. More on this below.
  • For all the criticism that the rich franchises take for buying free agents, it's worth noting how well they come out here. Of these 25 guys, there are 10 from the Mets, Yankees, Red Sox, and Phillies.

There are also a bunch of guys on here who are likely to change teams this off-season. Guys signed through only 2011 include Varitek, Sizemore, Fielder, Cuddyer, Reyes, Cano, Posada, Ellis, Rollins, Pujols, and Hill.

I made a second list of older players to appear for just one franchise. I started by looking for players who had the most PAs for one team between 1970 and 1990. Then I went through and manually removed guys who appeared for other teams outside of that range. (For example, Dwight Evans would be #2 on this list except that he appeared for the Orioles in 1991.)

Here are the top 25 guys in terms of PAs for a team between 1970 and 1990 who only ever played for that franchise:

Rk Player PA From To Age G Pos Tm
1 Robin Yount 10535 1974 1990 18-34 2449 *68D/73 MIL
3 Mike Schmidt 10062 1972 1989 22-39 2404 *53/64 PHI
4 George Brett 9803 1973 1990 20-37 2279 *53D/796 KCR
5 Dave Concepcion 9640 1970 1988 22-40 2488 *645/381 CIN
6 Jim Rice 9058 1974 1989 21-36 2089 *7D/98 BOS
7 Frank White 8467 1973 1990 22-39 2324 *46/5D9 KCR
8 Carl Yastrzemski 8013 1970 1983 30-43 1925 37D/589 BOS
9 Bill Russell 7782 1970 1986 21-37 2083 *69/4875 LAD
10 Lou Whitaker 7718 1977 1990 20-33 1827 *4/D DET
11 Alan Trammell 7614 1977 1990 19-32 1835 *6/D DET
12 Johnny Bench 7377 1970 1983 22-35 1830 *253/798 CIN
15 Cal Ripken 6375 1981 1990 20-29 1476 *6/5D BAL
18 Jim Gantner 5942 1976 1990 23-37 1560 *45/6D31 MIL
21 Roy White 5891 1970 1979 26-35 1393 *7D/839 NYY
22 Thurman Munson 5806 1970 1979 23-32 1397 *2/D9375 NYY
23 Willie Stargell 5465 1970 1982 30-42 1434 37/9 PIT
26 Kent Hrbek 5345 1981 1990 21-30 1299 *3/D5 MIN
27 Tony Gwynn 5156 1982 1990 22-30 1201 *98/7 SDP
29 Don Mattingly 4850 1982 1990 21-29 1117 *3/97D584 NYY
30 Kirby Puckett 4708 1984 1990 24-30 1070 *8/D79645 MIN
31 Ron Oester 4665 1978 1990 22-34 1276 *4/65 CIN
35 Mike Scioscia 4263 1980 1990 21-31 1205 *2 LAD
36 Rich Dauer 4218 1976 1985 23-32 1140 *45/D3 BAL
38 Brooks Robinson 4012 1970 1977 33-40 1014 *5 BAL
42 Rico Petrocelli 3581 1970 1976 27-33 891 *56/D43 BOS
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 6/12/2011.

This isn't exactly an equivalent search--ideally I would like to look at players active in, say, 1981, who ultimately had the most PAs for just one team. But the list still demonstrates my point to some degree given that the average number of PAs on this list is higher than on the active one, and a whole bunch of these players actually had MORE PA's than shown above, since guys were active before 1970 (Robinson, Petrocelli, Yastrzemski, etc) or after 1990 (Yount, Gwynn, Ripken, etc).

It's not surprising, but the bottom line (which we already knew) is that guys used to change teams a lot less often.

This entry was posted on Monday, June 13th, 2011 at 7:20 am and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

32 Responses to “Active players who have played for just one franchise”

  1. Raphy emailed me the following comment:

    1) Close to what you suggested, I made a chart like your active single franchise PA leader board, but for 1981. (I set final year >=1981, franchise=1, and years 1901-1981).
    http://bbref.com/pi/shareit/Si8C5

    The results are surprisingly close to the 2011 chart, but I suspect that may partly be caused by the higher PA/G totals today.

    2) I ran the top 25 through the PI again to see how many ultimately ended up playing for only 1 franchise and the answer was 9.
    http://bbref.com/pi/shareit/fDncA

  2. What about Brian McCann?

  3. @2

    McCann has 3176 PAs for ATL, which would put him just short of the Top 25 on Andy's list.

  4. Ah...top 25. Shows how stupid it is to try and read a stats site at 4:40 in the morning. Ha!

  5. Frank Clingenpeel Says:

    If you include their pre-1970 games -- also for the Orioles and Red Sox -- Brooks Robinson and Rico Petrocelli would be much higher in this list; in fact, Robinson would be right there on top, with Rico at around #14. Imposing, ain't it?

  6. Chipper Jones = HoF. I've been banging the Paul Konerko drum for several weeks now and then yesterday Ozzie comes out and starts talking about Paully for the HoF. Great minds think alike (me and Ozzie), and then Ozzie starts talking about the HoF being too picky, hehe!

  7. How about Pitchers - Most Innings for only one team? I wonder if Mariano Rivera would make the list despite being a reliever.

  8. Nash Bruce Says:

    @7: Brad Radke??

  9. Wow Prince Fielder is on this list, even though he's only 27 years old. Prince is a great hitter, even though he is rotund. For a lefty hitter his swing is not that pretty, it's violent and he often loses his balance after a hit. I like that he takes his walks when given them. Prince has an unusual beard also, and I imagine it itches when it gets humid.

  10. Nash Bruce Says:

    I love baseball, it, along with basketball, is my fave, so please forgive me, for commenting in this manner, but, this post, seems to run parallel (a good thing, to me) with Dirk Nowitzki, sticking with Dallas, for so, so, many years, and, in the end, being so humble, when he/they won, tonight..........
    What parallels to baseball? Well, for example, if Barry Bonds, had been humble enough, to not 'roid up, and, had been committed enough, to stay with Pittsburgh......how would the face of baseball, be different today??
    Pittsburgh is the 'classic' example of the small market team....a joke...........but Bonds didn't stay. Dirk stayed with his franchise, and made it happen.

  11. Jeter & Jones are #'s 90 & 100 on the all time list of games played. Jones will likely be between 75 & 80 by season's end if he stays healthy, Jeter should be between 60 & 65. Two more seasons for Jeter with between 125 & 140 games per season should have him up between 25 & 30 all time and right on the edge of the top 10 for games played for a single team. As for the rest of the list Pujols looks to be the only one who's age, health & skill level would give him a shot at ending up in the same territory as Jeter except for maybe Cano. I think health issues make Wright & Reyes unlikely.

  12. Am I missing something? It looks like there isn't a way to select only 1 franchise for pitchers, so we can't easily do this query. Is there a reason for this? or is it there and I'm just blind?

  13. The Twins have as many players on the modern list as the NL Central and West divisions have combined.

  14. Carl, you're right--the same option is not available, except in the "sort by" drop-down box. I am not sure why this is, but I know Sean is already aware.

    You can still make the same sort of list, though. Here are all the guys with 2000+ IP for 1 franchise since 1901:

    Rk Player IP ▾ From To Age G Tm
    1 Walter Johnson 5914.1 1907 1927 19-39 802 WSH
    2 Ted Lyons 4161.0 1923 1946 22-45 594 CHW
    3 Red Faber 4086.2 1914 1933 25-44 669 CHW
    4 Jim Palmer 3948.0 1965 1984 19-38 558 BAL
    5 Bob Gibson 3884.1 1959 1975 23-39 528 STL
    6 Bob Feller 3827.0 1936 1956 17-37 570 CLE
    7 Carl Hubbell 3590.1 1928 1943 25-40 535 NYG
    8 Don Drysdale 3432.0 1956 1969 19-32 518 BRO-LAD
    9 Mel Harder 3426.1 1928 1947 18-37 582 CLE
    10 Hooks Dauss 3390.2 1912 1926 22-36 538 DET
    11 Whitey Ford 3170.1 1950 1967 21-38 498 NYY
    12 Bob Lemon 2850.0 1946 1958 25-37 460 CLE
    13 Steve Rogers 2837.2 1973 1985 23-35 399 MON
    14 Tommy Bridges 2826.1 1930 1946 23-39 424 DET
    15 Vern Law 2672.0 1950 1967 20-37 483 PIT
    16 Mel Stottlemyre 2661.1 1964 1974 22-32 360 NYY
    17 Eddie Rommel 2556.1 1920 1932 22-34 500 PHA
    18 Paul Splittorff 2554.2 1970 1984 23-37 429 KCR
    19 Hal Schumacher 2482.1 1931 1946 20-35 391 NYG
    20 Brad Radke 2451.0 1995 2006 22-33 378 MIN
    21 Ron Guidry 2392.0 1975 1988 24-37 368 NYY
    22 Nap Rucker 2375.1 1907 1916 22-31 336 BRO
    23 Mark Buehrle 2358.0 2000 2011 21-32 372 CHW
    24 Addie Joss 2327.0 1902 1910 22-30 286 CLE
    25 Sandy Koufax 2324.1 1955 1966 19-30 397 BRO-LAD
    26 Dennis Leonard 2187.0 1974 1986 23-35 312 KCR
    27 Scott McGregor 2140.2 1976 1988 22-34 356 BAL
    28 Sam Leever 2016.0 1901 1910 29-38 302 PIT
    29 Deacon Phillippe 2007.0 1901 1911 29-39 292 PIT
    Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
    Generated 6/13/2011.
  15. Of course the big money teams have more guys on the list - when they develop good players, they can afford to keep them. The Yankees/Red Sox never have a top player going to free agency being proposed as trade bait for other teams. Fielder will be this year if Milwaukee falls out of it, Reyes has been mentioned this year (although that seems crazy) in that light.

    It's amazing to me that guys like Ellis, Cuddyer, and Inge have a decade on one team. They are useful players, sometimes all-star level, mostly "solid". These guys are all likely to be hangers-on with other teams before retirement. The top guys on the list seem unlikely to move anytime soon though.

  16. Aweb, excellent counterpoint regarding the rich teams keeping their own free agents.

  17. i think part of the phenomenon is that star players hang on longer after they decline nowadays because of the huge $, and after they get ditched by the team they were the face of the franchise for, they sign with a new team instead of retire.

  18. Aweb made the point I was going to. It is easy for rich teams to keep their own players because they often just keep extending them.

    Of the guys on the current list, how many have been entirely with that organization? For instance, Jeter has been a Yankee through and through, but Varitek came over from the Seattle organization while in the minors.

  19. John Autin Says:

    Andy -- Do the two lists really make for an "apples-to-apples" comparison? The first list is a snapshot of active players in 2011; the second looks at a 20-year span.

    What would the top-25 look like for the period 1991-2011, by the same process you used in the 2nd list?

  20. JA, it's definitely not apples-to-apples. Raphy had a better approach in comment #1 above.

  21. John Autin Says:

    Taking the opposite approach to Raphy @1, I generated a list for 1991-2011 (akin to 2nd table above). This list displaces the bottom 10 players from the original "active" list, and when compared to the 1970-90 list, seems to refute the notion that there are fewer long careers with one team than 20+ years ago.

    Most PAs in 1991-2011 for players who spent their entire career with 1 team:
    (PAs for the period are in parentheses)
    1 - Craig Biggio (11,242)
    2 - Derek Jeter (10,829)
    3 - Chipper Jones (9,902)
    4 - Jeff Bagwell (9,431)
    5 - Bernie Williams (9,053)
    6 - Todd Helton (8,442)
    7 - Edgar Martinez (7,822)
    8 - Ichiro Suzuki (7,624)
    9 - Jimmy Rollins (7,177)
    10 - Albert Pujols (7,067)
    11 - Tim Salmon (7,039)
    12 - Michael Young (6,985)
    13 - Jorge Posada (6,945)
    14 - Barry Larkin (6,710)
    15 - Cal Ripken (6,508)
    16 - Jason Varitek (5,692)
    17 - Bobby Higginson (5,660)
    18 - Brian Roberts (5,532)
    19 - Tony Gwynn (5,076)
    20 - Brandon Inge (5,054)
    21 - Jose Reyes (4,539)
    22 - David Wright (4,507)
    23 - Rusty Greer (4,420)
    24 - Chase Utley (4,396)
    25 - Mark Ellis (4,287)

    The average for this 1991-2011 list is 6,878 (and the 2011 season isn't even half over yet); the average for 1970-90 is 6,654. The median, the maxmum and the minimum for the recent list are all higher than the earlier one.

    This may not be the best way to compare player/team stability across eras; it may still be true that today's players spend less time, on average, with any given team (I don't know). But it seems to remain true today, just as Bill James wrote in the '80s, that free agency has not profoundly impacted the number of long-career players who stay with one team.

    One reason that James noted for this "surprising" finding is that, while free agency gives players the power to leave, long-term contracts and no-trade clauses gives them the power to stay with one team, and they exercise the latter choice perhaps more often than we cynical fans would assume.

  22. To examine how free agency has affected the tendency of players to stay on one team over long careers we should look not only at this list, but at one that looks at long careers for players who played on multiple teams. I think the relative lengths of these lists for players with PA > X would give us a sense of whether the frequency of player movements is increasing, decreasing or about the same.

  23. Dukeofflatbush Says:

    I mentioned this earlier on another post; but it still amazes me and I think makes a great baseball story. Whitaker and Trammel debuted in the same game (9/7/77). Jack Morris and Lance Parrish both debuted that season too, and all four lasted ten years together.
    Does anybody know their relationship? It would be a great story if they were close on and off the field, although from some anecdotal stories, I think their personalities would not mesh.
    I think Bill James claimed Whitaker would duck and roll when an airplane would fly over a stadium. I can't see Trammel doing that.

  24. Apropos of this discussion, before the season started, there was a link on the main page of free agent status, who was available, who was signed, where they signed, etc.

    One day, I just totalled up the number (it was over 600), which is over 80% of the 750 (30 x 25) major league roster spots. If that kind of volatility is happening on a yearly basis, long-tenured players on one team will become even more unusual than they already are.

  25. BSK - Micheal Young, Jason Varitek, Grady Sizemore and Mark Ellis would all not qualify in that case as they all played in the minors for other organizations.

  26. Guy standing out on this list: Brian Roberts.

    Currently in his 11th season with the Baltimore Orioles, making it 10 seasons in a row that Roberts has played for a team with a losing record.

    Roberts, fellow Oriole Nick Markakis, and #25 Aaron Hill (TOR) are the only three who haven't played in the postseason.

    For an MLB regular, I can't think of a much worse career path.

  27. Mac - I can think of one "worse career path" ... Ernie Banks.

  28. @27

    Just a bit tougher to make the playoffs in those days than the joke of a playoff system we have now (or the worse one we'll soon have).

  29. Rich teams can afford to keep their free agents, poor ones not so much.

  30. Thanks, Anthony!

  31. [...] of Jeter, he’s the current leader in Plate Appearances for Active Players While Playing With Only One Team according to the Baseball-Reference Blog. He’s about 900 PAs ahead of Chipper Jones. Todd [...]

  32. #7

    2358 IP Mark Buehrle
    1771 Carlos Zambrano
    1319.2 Brandon Webb
    1261 Felix Hernandez
    1226.2 Aaron Cook
    1181.1 Matt Cain
    1174.1 Mariano Rivera

    So Rivera is seventh.