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Teams with the most players appearing in 100+ games

Posted by Andy on September 28, 2010

Reader Jeff Z emailed in and asked which teams have had the most players play in at least 100 games. Here are the leaders, 1901-present, with 12 players each appearing in at least 100 games:

Rk Year Tm
1 2003 Atlanta Braves Darren Bragg / Vinny Castilla / Mark DeRosa / Robert Fick / Julio Franco / Matt Franco / Rafael Furcal / Marcus Giles / Andruw Jones / Chipper Jones / Javy Lopez / Gary Sheffield
2 1999 Minnesota Twins Chad Allen / Ron Coomer / Marty Cordova / Brent Gates / Cristian Guzman / Denny Hocking / Torii Hunter / Corey Koskie / Matt Lawton / Doug Mientkiewicz / Terry Steinbach / Todd Walker
3 1988 Minnesota Twins Randy Bush / Mark Davidson / Gary Gaetti / Greg Gagne / Dan Gladden / Kent Hrbek / Gene Larkin / Tim Laudner / Steve Lombardozzi / John Moses / Al Newman / Kirby Puckett
4 1987 Minnesota Twins Tom Brunansky / Randy Bush / Mark Davidson / Gary Gaetti / Greg Gagne / Dan Gladden / Kent Hrbek / Tim Laudner / Steve Lombardozzi / Al Newman / Kirby Puckett / Roy Smalley
5 1986 San Diego Padres Tim Flannery / Steve Garvey / Tony Gwynn / Terry Kennedy / John Kruk / Carmelo Martinez / Kevin McReynolds / Graig Nettles / Bip Roberts / Jerry Royster / Garry Templeton / Marvell Wynne
6 1984 Chicago White Sox Harold Baines / Julio Cruz / Carlton Fisk / Scott Fletcher / Jerry Hairston / Ron Kittle / Rudy Law / Vance Law / Greg Luzinski / Tom Paciorek / Mike Squires / Greg Walker
7 1984 Toronto Blue Jays Jesse Barfield / George Bell / Dave Collins / Damaso Garcia / Alfredo Griffin / Garth Iorg / Cliff Johnson / Buck Martinez / Lloyd Moseby / Rance Mulliniks / Willie Upshaw / Ernie Whitt
8 1983 Chicago White Sox Harold Baines / Jerry Dybzinski / Carlton Fisk / Scott Fletcher / Jerry Hairston / Ron Kittle / Rudy Law / Vance Law / Greg Luzinski / Tom Paciorek / Mike Squires / Greg Walker
9 1983 Toronto Blue Jays Jesse Barfield / Barry Bonnell / Dave Collins / Damaso Garcia / Alfredo Griffin / Garth Iorg / Cliff Johnson / Lloyd Moseby / Rance Mulliniks / Jorge Orta / Willie Upshaw / Ernie Whitt
10 1980 Chicago Cubs Larry Biittner / Tim Blackwell / Bill Buckner / Ivan de Jesus / Steve Dillard / Jesus Figueroa / Mick Kelleher / Jerry Martin / Lenny Randle / Scot Thompson / Mike Tyson / Mike Vail
11 1980 Texas Rangers Buddy Bell / Pepe Frias / Johnny Grubb / Jim Norris / Al Oliver / Pat Putnam / Mickey Rivers / Dave Roberts / Rusty Staub / Jim Sundberg / Bump Wills / Richie Zisk
12 1974 Chicago White Sox Dick Allen / Bucky Dent / Brian Downing / Ken Henderson / Ed Herrmann / Pat Kelly / Carlos May / Bill Melton / Tony Muser / Jorge Orta / Ron Santo / Bill Sharp
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 9/28/2010.

That's a pretty interesting question, actually, as it's a neat trick to get 12 different players into at least 100 games. There obviously must be a fair number of defensive and offensive substitutions to have that happen.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, September 28th, 2010 at 7:23 pm and is filed under Season Finders. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

32 Responses to “Teams with the most players appearing in 100+ games”

  1. The 1973 Expos came very close to being the first team to pull this off, and in a way unlike any of the others on the list. They had eleven players get to 100 games, and a twelfth at 92. However the 92 was Mike Marshall, pitcher!

  2. Paul, you win the prize. I was interested to see who was going to mention Mike Marshall first. Marshall did appear in over 100 games in 1974 with the Dodgers, but they had only 8 other guys appear in at least 100 games.

  3. It'd be interesting to see how other cutoffs shake out. For instance, having 8 (or 9 in the AL) guys appear in 150 games would mean that you kept a healthy lineup for almost an entire season. Obviously, that is a smaller number at >100, but overall more impressive, I'd say. What are the most at 110? 120? Etc...

    I'd also be curious to see the least number of players at 100. Or the team whose leader in games played was the lowest. Lots of interesting stuff in this little pool.

    Of course, I'd do the work myself, but I lack a subscription and the means to get one at this point in time. So thanks to anyone who does take on my queries (and to hell with the rest of you!).

  4. Andy, mega-interesting!

    One quick reaction is three of the teams on the list are Bobby-Cox-managed. Is this saying anything about his managerial style?

    Second quick observation is that they are are all recent teams, given that the study went back to 1901. Why?
    @3
    BSK, I have have valued your posts in these discussions over the last month. I don't know if someone else could sponsor your subscription on this site, but the database searches are mind-blowing with full access.

  5. Mike Marshall pitched 208 innings and was 15-12 for that 1974 Dodgers team, finishing 2nd on the staff in decisions and 3rd in innings pitched--without starting a single game.

  6. Obviously, this is not a recipe for success-- or, if it is, it hasn't worked that way very often. The '87 Twins are BY FAR the best team on this list, since they won the World Series-- however, they have the second worst record of any Series winner ever. Very interesting. Maybe HEALTH isn't as important as DEPTH (if that makes any sense).

  7. Upon more thoughtful reflection, the word that comes to mind in making sense of the list is .... "platooning". Making out the starting line-up based on handedness of the opposing pitcher, then automatically pinch-hitting with the other side of the platoon when the opposition manager made a pitching change during the game.

    Bobby Cox's use of the Jay's roster in 1983 and 1984 is a case in point. Jorge Orta and Cliff Johnson at DH, "Mullinorge" at 3B, Buck Martinez and Ernie Whitt at C, Barry Bonnell and Dave Collins (who, although a switch-hitter was weak against left-hangers), etc.

    Whatever happened to real platooning?

  8. Neil, I don't know, but with Weaver and then Cox and the success they had, it seemed like it was the wave of the future. Guess not, huh?

  9. @4

    Neil - two thoughts on why they are recent teams. First, a longer schedule. With 8 (or more) additional games it just makes it a little easier. Second, there are only 2 NL teams on the list and the rest are AL teams. The DH allows another full time hitting position to be worked into the lineup, which essentially gives an AL team a head start.

    The 1983 White Sox were one Julio Cruz game away from having 13 players appear in 100+ games.

  10. Maybe slightly off-point, but a look at the 1904 Red Sox roster shows only 18 players used all season, and six of the regulars played between 155-157 games. I know, smaller rosters and set line-ups, but it always fascinated me that six regulars played almost the entire schedule...

  11. Oops, and I forgot- only five pitchers, and only nine non-complete games...

  12. So Jay Bruce just hit a walk off home run to clinch a playoff berth.... has anyone else ever done this?

  13. That's a good list, and just an odd mix of some really good teams and some really mediocre teams. I kind of forgot how good those '03 Braves were.

    (What were they thinking?)....

    Tom Kelly giving Christian Guzman 100+ games in 1999. And Bobby Cox giving Alfredo Griffin 100+ games in 1984.

  14. Nine out of the twelve are in the A.L., and all post the DH. This obviously opens up a new position slot, but one also that allows greater rotation of players.

  15. @12, Thomas-- So Jay Bruce just hit a walk off home run to clinch a playoff berth.... has anyone else ever done this?
    -----------------------

    Yes. I don't have the list in front of me, but it's happened at least a half a dozen times, including by Soriano on the Yankees in '99.

  16. Thomas, continuing. I should have went and got the list before I posted my note above. Not sure why Bobby Thomson's name didn't come to mind first!

    Here's the list of walk-off home-runs to send a team into the postseason:

    Jay Bruce -- 2010 Reds
    Steve Finley-- 2004 Dodgers
    Alfonso Soriano -- 1999 Yankees
    Hank Aaron -- 1957 Braves
    Bobby Thomson -- 1951 Giants

    Hmmm, not a scrub on the list. "Only" one HOFer, but all were regulars and good players.

  17. Neil L - There are also three Tom Kelly-managed teams on this list.

  18. Neil L @7 "Whatever happened to real platooning?"

    It's just a guess but I think Tony LaRussa is to blame. Since every team now seems to need at least 2 LOOGY's & every roster has 12 or 13 pitchers there aren't enough roster spots left to do much platooning. Which I think is counter-productive since any decent left/right offensive or offense/defense platoon is worth far more than the 40 or 50 appearances your typical lefty reliever will make.

  19. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Hartvig, evidence?

  20. Ok, I apparently had an opposite line of thinking because I expected this to be mostly NL teams. Granted in the AL you've got the extra bat, but things like pinch-hitting and pinch-running are much more rare and I figured that would be the way to do this.

  21. Johny Twisto @19

    "Hartvig, evidence?"

    Besides the success of George Stallings, Billy Southworth, Casey Stengel, Earl Weaver & to a lesser extent, Tom Kelly I would suggest an article in Bill James' Revised Historical Baseball Abstract in the 1970's chapter entitled: My Two Cents, 246 Words. In short, by adding 2 left handers to the bullpen you: 1) are taking innings away from presumably better pitchers 2) are probably going to end up facing more right handers than left handers anyway and 3) don't end up giving you that much of a platoon advantage in a fairly limited number of opportunities. And this means you have 2 fewer offensive players available to platoon, pinch hit, pinch run or be a defensive substitute in many more potential situations.

    Do I have hard numbers to back it up? No. But if I were a major league general manager it's how I would construct my team.

  22. Neil-

    Thanks for your kind words and the idea of a sponsored subscription. However, on second thought, I certainly can afford the $36 subscription. For whatever reason, I thought the corporate rate was the individual rate. I'll get on that soon and, once I learn how to use the thing, will hopefully be able to offer info instead of just queries.

  23. BSK: In the meantime, here are the teams with at least 6 players with 150 or more games.

    Of course the 162 game schedule makes this easier; only one pre-1960 team is on the list (1904 Boston, the team Andyr mentioned @10). To be fair, 143 games out of 154 is about the same fraction as 150 out of 162, so here is the list of teams from 1901-1960 with at least 6 players with 143 or more games. One team (the '53 Cardinals) were the only team with 7.

  24. I forgot to mention that the '53 Cardinals had all 8 position players with at least 135 games (Del Rice, the catcher, was the weak link). No other team 1901-1960 did that.

    For a 162-game season, the corresponding feat would be to have all 8 position players with at least 142 games; 4 teams have done that.

    Some great names in the starting lineup team: Repulski, Jablonski, Schoendienst, Bilko, Hemus, Slaughter, and, of course, Musial.

  25. FWIW, the only team (in a non-strike/-lockout season) with only one player appearing in more than 100 games was the underwhelming 1906 Cardinals.

  26. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Hartvig, there's no question major league managers these days tend to have a herd mentality and seem afraid to take risks. At the same time, I am reluctant to assume that all managers are idiots. Since every team has gone from a 9-10 man pitching staff to 12-13 man staff over the past 30-40 years, I am inclined to think they have good reasons to do so and feel that this is a better use of personnel. The innings that the worst pitchers on the team throw are usually the lowest-leverage innings, so they save the arms of better pitchers without costing much in terms of win probability. And they seem to think more can be gained by pressing the platoon advantage with their pitchers instead of with their hitters. No one starts .550 OPS shortstops anymore, so there is less need for as many pinch hitters.

    I'm not going to argue that the current roster makeups are ideal. I don't think anyone could know that for sure, and they will continue to change as they always have. But if you start with the premise that you need five starting pitchers who average 6 IP per start, you need to get ~486 more IP from your bullpen. How many guys does it take to do that? Do you think you can find 5 relievers who will each pitch nearly 100 IP without breaking down? You need to get more innings from your pitchers if you want to shrink the staff -- if you can figure out a good way to do that without causing injury, there is a job for you in MLB.

  27. JT-

    Your second paragraph begs a few questions, namely with regards to the number of innings we can expect from a pitcher. I know that there is a lot of data on the subject in all directions as to what is the "right" number of innings for a pitcher, but there is little that is conclusive (which I think ultimately points to how individual the "right" number is to the pitcher and how conditional it is to the development of that pitcher). So, while you are right with regards to the modern constraints put on place on pitchers, that is not necessarily the way it HAS to be (and historically, it was often quite different). As you said, how do we move away from the current methodology is the question, and requires ideological changes at all levels of an organization.

    Personally, I think teams should be a lot less protective of relievers. Outside of a few exceptions, there is so much variance with relievers, that there seems little benefit to limiting the innings in one year to protect them for a future year. If a guy has been positioned to be a career reliver (as opposed to young starters breaking in that way), I see no reason to run him out there for 100+ innings if he can do it effectively. It might mean he won't be as effective, or effective at all the next year, but there was little guarantee of that in the first place. Granted, this is more hunch-driven than data-driven.

  28. Johnny Twisto Says:

    It's not just protecting the reliever for the future, it's maximizing his effectiveness within the current season as well. Look how dominant short relievers have become now that they often fall short of even 70 IP in a season.

    Aesthetically, I think it's a more interesting game when there are more changes made on the offensive/defensive lineups rather than with pitchers, so I'd prefer smaller pens and bigger benches. There are reasons things have moved in this direction however. Part of it is an effort to protect arms, and there is a serious question as to how effective that has been. Part of it is to maximize performance, and there seems to be some evidence that the increase in quality overrides the decrease in quantity.

    In some ways though it really seems like no one knows anything when it comes to pitchers. I may have more thoughts on this later....

  29. JT-

    Good point. The ability to find guys who can perform as great relievers in the short term may be a direct result of the reduced workload. As you say, it's nearly impossible to know. As the previous poster pointed out, we have to weight that advantage (if it is real) against the disadvantage of a more limited bench. This is probably where those super sophisticated sims comes into play. Take a team's "regulars" (8/9 position players, 5 starters, top reliever or 2) and run a sim where they have a typical modern line-up construction and one where they have fewer relievers and more bench players. Now, the question is what should be the composition of the OTHER teams in the sim. I suppose you would want them constructed as they are nowadays. That will tell you what makes sense for today's game.

    That makes me think of your earlier point about the "ideal" roster construction. There probably isn't one, since it is contextual. A given construction might work in a given era but not in others. It's unlikely that there is one that would excel in all. Much like the NFL, there is a bit of a cat-and-mouse game. It just seems to work MUCH slower in baseball.

  30. @18
    Hartvig, it is probably too simplistic to blame LaRussa for the death of platooning. I'm not a huge fan of it anyway.

    But the increase of pitchers on the 25-man ML roster in recent times merits some discussion. And the perception that LH relievers are incredibly useful to manager needs to be explored.
    @26
    JT, totally agreed with you about the follow-the-leader mentality among all pro-sports managers, not just baseball. I just posted a comment to that effect in another discussion on this site.

  31. @17
    Kevin B, thank you for pointing out that Tom Kelly studied at the Earl Weaver School of Roster Management.

    Seriously, I had not appreciated Tom Kelly's committment to 2 players at one position until checking the data after your post.

  32. For all the discussion about Tony LaRussa, I'm surprised nobody has mentioned that he managed the 1983 and 1984 White Sox, teams Nos. 6 and 8 in the chart above.