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Matt Stairs played for a lot of teams

Posted by Andy on August 3, 2011

Matt Stairs was released by the Nationals the other day. They were his 13th team in the big leagues (but only the 12th franchise since he started off with the Expos.)

There are 20 players currently listed as active who have played for at least 8 teams in the majors:

Rk From To Age Pos Tm
1 Juan Acevedo 8 1995 2003 25-33 *1 COL-NYM-STL-MIL-FLA-DET-TOR-NYY
2 Miguel Batista 9 1992 2011 21-40 *1 PIT-FLA-CHC-MON-KCR-ARI-TOR-SEA-WSN-STL
3 Henry Blanco 9 1997 2011 25-39 *2/357 LAD-COL-MIL-ATL-MIN-CHC-SDP-NYM-ARI
4 Milton Bradley 8 2000 2011 22-33 89D7 MON-CLE-LAD-OAK-SDP-TEX-CHC-SEA
5 Russell Branyan 10 1998 2011 22-35 537D/9 CLE-CIN-MIL-SDP-TBD-STL-PHI-SEA-LAA-ARI
6 Orlando Cabrera 9 1997 2011 22-36 *64/5D MON-BOS-LAA-CHW-OAK-MIN-CIN-SFG-CLE
7 Miguel Cairo 9 1996 2011 22-37 *453/76D9 TOR-CHC-TBD-STL-NYY-NYM-SEA-PHI-CIN
8 Mike Cameron 8 1995 2011 22-38 *89/D7 CHW-CIN-SEA-NYM-SDP-MIL-BOS-FLA
9 Bruce Chen 10 1998 2011 21-34 *1 ATL-PHI-NYM-MON-CIN-HOU-BOS-BAL-TEX-KCR
10 Elmer Dessens 9 1996 2010 25-39 *1 PIT-CIN-ARI-LAD-KCR-MIL-COL-ATL-NYM
11 Octavio Dotel 12 1999 2011 25-37 *1 NYM-HOU-OAK-NYY-ATL-KCR-CHW-PIT-LAD-COL-TOR-STL
12 Jerry Hairston 8 1998 2011 22-35 47685/9D3 BAL-CHC-TEX-CIN-NYY-SDP-WSN-MIL
13 LaTroy Hawkins 8 1995 2011 22-38 *1 MIN-CHC-SFG-BAL-COL-HOU-NYY-MIL
14 Felipe Lopez 8 2001 2011 21-31 *645/73D91 TOR-CIN-WSN-STL-MIL-ARI-BOS-TBR
15 Ron Mahay 8 1995 2010 24-39 *1/8D BOS-OAK-FLA-CHC-TEX-ATL-KCR-MIN
16 Darren Oliver 8 1993 2011 22-40 *1 TEX-STL-BOS-COL-HOU-FLA-NYM-LAA
17 Dennys Reyes 10 1997 2010 20-33 *1 LAD-CIN-COL-TEX-PIT-ARI-KCR-SDP-MIN-STL
18 Arthur Rhodes 8 1991 2011 21-41 *1 BAL-SEA-OAK-CLE-PHI-FLA-CIN-TEX
19 Matt Stairs 12 1992 2011 24-43 9D37/84 MON-BOS-OAK-CHC-MIL-PIT-KCR-TEX-DET-TOR-PHI-SDP-WSN
20 Brett Tomko 10 1997 2011 24-38 *1 CIN-SEA-SDP-STL-SFG-LAD-KCR-OAK-NYY-TEX
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 8/3/2011.

That first column is franchises played for, and Octavio Dotel has also played for 12.

Among players all-time to play for at least 10 franchises in the majors since 1901, Stairs edges out Todd Zeile for most career homers:

Rk Player HR From To Age G PA AB RBI OPS Pos Tm
1 Matt Stairs 265 12 1992 2011 24-43 1895 6023 5204 899 .832 9D37/84 MON-BOS-OAK-CHC-MIL-PIT-KCR-TEX-DET-TOR-PHI-SDP-WSN
2 Todd Zeile 253 11 1989 2004 23-38 2158 8649 7573 1110 .769 *532/D71 STL-CHC-PHI-BAL-LAD-FLA-TEX-NYM-COL-MON-NYY
3 Jose Guillen 214 10 1997 2010 21-34 1650 6414 5888 887 .761 *97D/8 PIT-TBD-CIN-ARI-OAK-ANA-WSN-SEA-KCR-SFG
4 Russell Branyan 191 10 1998 2011 22-35 1047 3381 2919 459 .811 537D/9 CLE-CIN-MIL-SDP-TBD-STL-PHI-SEA-LAA-ARI
5 Tommy Davis 153 10 1959 1976 20-37 1999 7739 7223 1052 .733 *7D58/394 LAD-NYM-CHW-HOU-SEP-CHC-OAK-BAL-KCR-CAL
6 Kenny Lofton 130 11 1991 2007 24-40 2103 9234 8120 781 .794 *8/7D9 HOU-CLE-ATL-SFG-CHW-PIT-CHC-NYY-PHI-LAD-TEX
7 Royce Clayton 110 11 1991 2007 21-37 2108 8164 7379 723 .679 *6/5D SFG-STL-TEX-CHW-MIL-COL-ARI-WSN-CIN-TOR-BOS
8 Paul Bako 24 11 1998 2009 26-37 789 2471 2202 195 .623 *2/D3 DET-HOU-FLA-ATL-MIL-CHC-LAD-KCR-BAL-CIN-PHI
9 Ken Brett 10 10 1967 1981 18-32 386 373 347 44 .698 *1 BOS-MIL-PHI-PIT-NYY-CHW-CAL-LAD-MIN-KCR
10 Terry Mulholland 2 11 1986 2006 23-43 687 687 619 23 .276 *1 SFG-PHI-NYY-SEA-CHC-ATL-PIT-LAD-CLE-MIN-ARI
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 8/3/2011.

Wow...Terry Mulholland makes a leader board as a batter!

48 Responses to “Matt Stairs played for a lot of teams”

  1. WilliaminMaine Says:

    Matt Stairs failed to hit a homer for the Nationals so he hit homers for eleven different teams matching Zeile. That has to be a record, right?

    Russell Branyon has homered for ten different teams.

  2. WilliaminMaine Says:

    Dotel matches Stairs and Zeile in a way as he has given up homers for eleven different teams.

  3. Gerry Says:

    If we go back before 1901, Dan Brouthers played for 10 teams and hit 106 home runs. He homered for 9 of the ten teams.

  4. Library Dave Says:

    Stairs also played for 11 different minor league teams, bringing his total to 24 different professional uniforms he's worn. Dotel also pitched for 11 teams in the minors, for a total of 23. That's a lot of packing and unpacking.

  5. Library Dave Says:

    I forgot that Stairs played for Chunichi in Japan. Make that 25 teams.

  6. Joe Says:

    Looking at Matt Stairs' career record, I had no recollection that he ever played for Detroit. But with only 14 games played, I think there's a good chance Stairs himself doesn't remember ever playing for the Tigers.

  7. Roddy Says:

    7 former Phillies on that homer list including one of the, "Phillies get the bad brother" players in Ken Brett.

    Others include: Mike Maddux, Mark Leiter, Jeremy Giambi, Vince DiMaggio and probably more.

  8. John M Says:

    Matt's from my town (He was born in Saint John but all of his family is from Tay Creek outside Fredericton, NB) and is a high class guy. Great to see an article here on him as his career winds down. We wish him all the best. He'll likely get passed by Jason Bay as the #2 home run hitter from Canada in MLB history, but he's done great for a guy from the Maritime Provinces.

  9. John M Says:

    Matt's from my town (He was born in Saint John but all of his family is from Tay Creek outside Fredericton, NB) and is a high class guy. Great to see an article here on him as his career winds down. We wish him all the best. He'll likely get passed by Jason Bay as the #2 home run hitter from Canada in MLB history, but he's done great for a guy from the Maritime Provinces.

  10. Bukanier Says:

    I'm still confusing Felipe Lopez with every other player in the infamous 2006 trade.

  11. Pete R Says:

    I've tried clicking on "View Play Index Tool Used" for that first table, but I still don't see how it was made. Please can anyone help?


  12. Pete R Says:

    Mike Morgan gave up home runs for 12 different teams, which I am fairly sure is a record.
    I may have missed someone writing this, as I do, but was Stairs the first man ever to play for 13 different major league franchises?

  13. Jim Says:

    Wait, wait. Juan Acevedo is still pitching somewhere??

    Also, Matt Stairs never homered for the Expos either. A bit funny that his 265 career home runs on 11 different teams are bookended by zero home runs stints for the same franchise long before and long after they moved.

  14. Andy Says:

    #7: Tom Barrett,

    Also Garvin Hamner, although in that case they had the right brother too.

  15. Andy Says:

    This is now off-topic, but do you know which of the all-time great players had a brother named Butts who also played major-league baseball?

    Answer is here.

  16. John Autin Says:

    Stairs has played for more teams ... but Dotel has disappointed more teams.

  17. Andy Says:

    Stairs has played for more teams ... but Dotel has disappointed more teams.

    Bitter Mets fan alert!

    That trade the Mets made--sending away Dotel and Cedeno for Derek Bell and Mike Hampton--pretty damn good. Bell is on my all-overrated team, but as long as you think of him as an average corner outfielder with good speed, then it was a good trade.

  18. John Autin Says:

    @7, Roddy -- That's a bit of a cheap shot at Ken Brett, no?

    Big brother Ken did quite nicely in his only season in Philly, going 13-9 with a 110 ERA+ in 212 IP for a crappy team -- not to mention hitting .250 with 4 HRs and 16 RBI in 80 ABs (102 OPS+).

    And then they traded him for Dave Cash, a clear "win" for the Phils.

  19. stanmvp48 Says:

    I counted 10 for Dave Martinez. Am I wrong?

  20. Ted Says:

    This gave me a fun idea.

    What's the least number of players who have, as a group, played for every franchise. Just looking at this list, Stairs, Dotel, Branyan, and Hawkins cover every team except the Marlins, so it can definitely be done with 5 players. I wonder if it can be done with 4.

  21. BSK Says:

    Is there a way to do the same search but with a threshold for seasons or games played or PA/IP? I'd be curious to see guys that not only played for a lot of teams but actually spent meaningful (if potentially unproductive) time in those spots.

  22. Carl Says:

    Wow - was Kenny Lofton a terrible human being or something? Man was a fine leadoff hitter, close to HOF level (sort of like Johnny Damon, but without 3000 hits, so no one pushing for him - well, Damon isnt' at 3K yet, but that's never stopped the sportswriters)

  23. Andy Says:

    I think the issue with Lofton is that his flash outweighed his production. Don't get me wrong--he was a good player. But outside of 1993 and 1994, he didn't put up any monster offensive years. After 1999 he never posted an OBP of .400, and his career OPS+ was 107 even including those great early years.

    I think he was traded a lot because he was flashy and stole a lot of bases, so GMs tended to think he would spark their offense and he was consistently worth more to the acquiring team than his existing team. He was traded 6 times!

  24. Brett Says:

    I enjoy that the 2nd list is a full squad as long as Tommy Davis plays 2B.

  25. bluejaysstatsgeek Says:

    @8, John M:

    I was in Fredericton about a month back and saw the New Brunswick Sports Hall of Fame. It was only $3, so I spent about an hour there. I had hoped to se some Matt Stairs stuff, but there was only his jersey from the A's when he passed some milestone, which I'm embarrassed to admit, I forgot.

    I'd like to see the Jays give him a one-day contract to be able to retire a Jay. I know his best years were not as a Jay, but his career did get a second wind with the Jays. Also, he broke in with a Canadian team, and I think it would be fitting that he retire with a Canadian team. They could have a Matt Stairs retirement day with Matt Stairs bobbleheads and "in case of emergency, use Stairs t-shirts.

  26. Jim Says:

    @23 Andy

    I think your assessment is pretty far off the mark.

    OPS+ isn't the best way to measure a high OBP/ low SLG CF, particularly one who steals as many bases as Lofton did. SLG is naturally more variant than OBP, and OBP is a more important stat, which is why OPS/OPS+ can often be so misleading. A player with a .400 OBP and a .400 SLG is a significantly better player than one with a .350 OBP and a .450 SLG, but they'll have the same OPS.

    You say that he never put up a .400+ OBP after 1999, as though that was a negative. That was his age 32 season, so it would be expected that he'd decline from there. Saying he was traded six times is also a little misleading - he was traded once when he was still a prospect, and four times after he turned 35 and was more or a role player. He was only traded once in his prime, and it was heading into his contract year.

    Lofton had six seasons with 5+ WAR, and ended with a 65.3 WAR. For comparison's sake, Albert Belle had a 143 career OPS+ and only a 37.4 career WAR, Jim Rice a 128 OPS+ and a 41.5 WAR. He was an awesome player, and I'd vote for him for the Hall of Fame.

  27. Andy Says:


    I'll go ahead and agree with you---toward the end of my post at 23 I started thinking--well OPS+ doesn't take into account that he was a great base runner and base stealer, and played an important defensive position (and played it well for most of his career.)

    For the record, Lofton is on my list of favorite players and I think he's actually underrated by many folks (but not readers of this blog, typically.)

  28. ken Says:

    I'd like to see some team give Tommy Davis a one-game contract, just so he can turn the odometer in the "games played" column. I mean, I know he's 70 years old or something, but still, he could probably bat cleanup for the Mets.

  29. Whiz Says:

    Bobo Newsom played for only different 9 teams, but was traded 16 times. He played for the Senators on five different occasions, the Browns three times.

  30. TheGoof Says:

    I wonder if the Senators kept a Bobo uni ready at all times in case he'd rejoin them. Or the A's a Rickey one, for that matter.

  31. David Matchett Says:

    Stairs is the only player to appear for all 4 1969 expansion franchises. From this list Jerry Hairson is only missing KC. Darren Oliver is one of 2 who played for all 4 1961/2 expansion teams. The other was Nolan Ryan, his only 4 teams.

  32. Spartan Bill Says:

    @15 Andy

    So the guy who has the worlds rarest baseball card because he hated smoking has a brother named Butts???

    that is priceless

  33. John Bowen Says:

    ESPN - The Magazine had a thing about Stairs. He's had a jersey with each of the teams he's been with framed. Pretty cool, I think.

  34. Greg Says:

    Anyone think Stairs might be picked up?

  35. ken Says:

    I don't know, Greg. I'm sure if you bought him a few drinks and asked him nicely, he'd consider it at least.

  36. bluejaysstatsgeek Says:

    I didn't know he swung that way!

  37. DoubleDiamond Says:

    As soon as I saw that Stairs had been dropped by the Nationals last week, I realized that he had the chance to set the record of most franchises played for.

    For many years, Dick Littlefield was said to have held this record, with 10 teams. However, I always pointed out that because he played for the St. Louis Browns at the time they moved to Baltimore and became the Orioles, he only played for 9 different franchises. Considering that he was only in the major leagues during 9 seasons (1950-1958), this works out to be an average of one franchise a year.

    Incidentally, this may be the right place for me to acknowledge that I had one important detail incorrect regarding interleague trades before 1959. Someone else corrected me on it when I originally posted it, and indeed, it jogged my memory as to the restriction on these trades. The restriction was not that the player had to be sold (for money) rather than traded (for one or more players). It was that waivers were needed to trade the player into the other league.

    Only one of Littlefield's deals brought him into the other league. He was traded from Baltimore to Pittsburgh for Cal Abrams in May 1954. Before that, he only played in the American League, for four franchises but wearing the uniforms of five different teams. After that, he only played in the National League, for five franchises.

    I keep waiting for the Phillies to pick up Dotel because three of the six Houston pitchers who were involved in that no-hitter in Yankee Stadium in 2003 (Roy Oswalt, Brad Lidge, and Billy Wagner) have played for them already. Two of the other three are out of baseball now. That third one isDotel.

    A few years ago, I put together a "wrong brothers" team for the Phillies:

    RHP Greg Maddox (Mike)
    LHP Al Leiter (Mark)
    Relief pitcher Todd Worrell (Tim)
    C Joe Torre (Frank)
    1B Jason Giambi (Jeremy) (Jason Giambi's free agent departure from Oakland gave the A's a compensatory draft pick that was used to select Joe Blanton, a decent contributor to the 2008 World Series champs)
    2B Marty Barrett (Tommy)
    3B George Brett (Ken)
    SS Nomar Garciaparra (Mike, who only played in the minors for the Phillies; originally this spot was filled by college shortstop B.J. Surhoff, whose brother Rich was once traded straight up by for Dave Stewart, whom they released not too long after that)
    OF George Bell (Juan; George was lost by the Phillies in the Rule 5 draft)
    OF Joe DiMaggio (Vince)
    OF Dom DiMaggio (Vince)

    And the exception that proves the rule is the DH, selected by this one-time Washington Senators fan - Dick Allen, brother of Hank. That was one time when the Phillies got the "Right Brother"!

  38. David Frantz Says:

    There's an error on the list: Dennys Reyes has played 4 games this year for Boston, his 11th franchise.

  39. Thomas Says:

    By the way... Stairs just retired.

  40. Rabino Says:

    Why isn´t mike morgan on the list? he played for 12 teams also...

  41. Gerry Says:

    @21, in April, 2005, Sean Lahman posted this list to SABR-L:

    Most games for at least X teams (1871-2004)

    Teams Games Player Name
    1 3308 Carl Yastrzemski
    2 1270 Henry Aaron
    3 727 Darrell Evans
    4 518 Rusty Staub
    5 249 Don Baylor
    6 154 Gary Sheffield
    7 128 Tom Brown
    8 99 Dave Collins
    9 72 Paul Radford
    10 45 Tom Brown
    11 36 Tom Brown
    12 2 Deacon McGuire

    The way to read this is, for example, Staub played at least 518 games for each of 4 different teams, and no one played more than 518 games for at least 4 different teams. Sean added, "I counted franchise relocations as two different teams. That's why Aaron gets credit for 1806 games with the
    Milwaukee Braves and 1270 with the Atlanta Braves. If you don't like that
    method, then Eddie Collins belongs in his place, with 1670 games for Chi-A and 1156 for Phi-A."

    Sean also found the fewest total games based on total number of teams played for (1871-2004):

    Total Total
    Teams MLB Games Player Name
    12 544 Mike Morgan*
    11 660 Jim Donnelly
    10 229 Frank Foreman*
    9 215 Jersey Bakely*
    8 147 Jeff Juden*
    7 59 Andrew Lorraine*
    6 34 Rich Sauver*
    5 12 Ensign Cottrell*
    4 5 Dummy Leitner*
    3 3 Bill Barrett
    2 2 28 players
    1 1 979 players

    * asterisk indicates a pitcher

  42. Rabino Says:

    Sorry that´s an active players list...

    I think both Dotel and Stairs probably can´t name in order all teams they have played for...

  43. Greg Says:

    Obviously by another team but if he announced his retirement, I guess not likely

  44. Spindlebrook Says:

    Former Expo and Pirate pitcher Matt Skrmetta has played for 25 different professional teams, a baseball record that may extend to all American sports.

  45. Jeff Says:

    Why would Stairs retire now? Has he forgotten "In case of emergency, use Stairs"? Surely some team would have picked him up for their playoff run. Hm, Giants are good at picking up players who were released and sitting at home. Maybe we could use Stairs after the rosters expand...

  46. GrandsBiscuits Says:

    The one guy who stands out to me is Felipe Lopez. He has already played for 8 teams and is just 31 - could he set a new record?

  47. Says:

    These my friends, are what you call journeyman. Corey Patterson will be up there by the time he retires. But hey, playing baseball for a living in all kinds of different cities could not be all that bad. Look for Stairs to be picked up by a young NL team that has a shot at the playoffs. Maybe the Pirates again?

  48. gosensgo101 Says:

    Juan Acevedo is still pitching somewhere? The hell?