Ironmen – most games played by age range

In birtelcom’s post on Willie Mays‘ induction into the Circle of Greats, a comment was made that Mays is one of only two players to play in 150+ games for 13 consecutive seasons (the other, flying under our radar, is Bobby Abreu). This prompted a general discussion of players who most consistently answered the bell, day in and day out, year after year.

After the jump, record holders in games played for every age range.

I’m displaying the results in tabular format, with the “From” ages as columns, and the “To” ages as rows. Of course, modern players with the extended 162 game schedule are favored. But, of those, certain players are disadvantaged if they played in any of the contracted seasons resulting from labour action, in 1972, 1981, 1994 and 1995.

One example of impact from a strike season is Pete Rose, who had a streak of 12 seasons (1969-80) playing 150+ games, then played every game in strike-shortened 1981, and followed that with two more 150+ game seasons in 1982-83, aged 41-42. Another is Cal Ripken who kept his consecutive-game streak alive through strike-shortened 1994 and 1995, but not his streak of 160+ game seasons that was stopped at 12 (1982-93), notwithstanding three more times at 160+ on the other side of the strike seasons.

Let’s start with the youngsters.
[table id=184 /]

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Prodigies Robin Yount and Mel Ott figure prominently among careers starting as teenagers. Andruw Jones and Hank Aaron dominate starting from age 20 before giving way to Cal Ripken. Ron Santo appears starting at age 22, and his teammate Billy Williams at age 23 (Williams will figure more prominently in the next table). Note Yaz at age 21-39, his only appearance in these tables.

Regardless of when careers start, Pete Rose holds the records by the time those careers end. From age 32-39, Rose played 160+ games in 7 of 8 seasons (and had 159 games in the other year). At those ages, only Ichiro (6), Ripken (4), Steve Garvey (3)  and Jose Cruz (3) have more than two seasons of 160+ games.

Progressing to age ranges starting from age 24 to 31.

[table id=185 /]

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Billy Williams is the dominant presence in the top half of this table, with Rose grabbing a larger and larger share of the bottom portion. Note Brooks Robinson in the top left corner, and also Ichiro’s first appearance for the 28-34 age range.
[table id=186/]

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For age 32-39, basically all Rose, all the time, save for a few Ichiro and Miguel Tejada sightings. Craig Biggio and Dave Winfield make an appearance in the bottom right corner, mainly to due to the 40 year-old Rose losing time in the strike-shortened 1981 season.
[table id=187 /]

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Rose’s lost time in 1981 does provide a bit of variety for age ranges starting at age 40, notably Honus Wagner‘s appearance and Carlton Fisk‘s incredible 134 games at age 43, 106 of them behind the plate. Fisk would add 79 more games caught at 44 and 45, alone at those ages save for coaches filling in or last-game-of-the-year stunts. Only war-time replacements Merv Shea and Clyde Sukeforth also caught games at age 43, and only 19 between them.

Almost as impressive as Fisk’s exploits is Julio Franco‘s 100+ games played for four consecutive seasons, age 43-46. No other player did so at age 45 or 46, only one other (Rose) at 44 and only Pete, Yaz, Fisk and Omar Vizquel at 43.

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Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

Phil Cavaretta’s single batting title came in his 12th season.
When he was 28.

John Autin
Editor

Terrific presentation, Doug!

John Autin
Editor

23 players are named in the first table:

Hank Aaron
Tommy Brown
Starlin Castro
Phil Cavarretta
Cesar Cedeno
Tommy Davis
Tony Fernandez
Jeff Francoeur
Andruw Jones
Al Kaline
Bob Kennedy
Buddy Lewis
Mel Ott
Cal Ripken
Brooks Robinson
Alex Rodriguez
Pete Rose
Ron Santo
Grady Sizemore
Billy Williams
Carl Yastrzemski
Delmon Young
Robin Yount

… and 18 in the second:
Albert Belle
Tony Fernandez
Prince Fielder
Hideki Matsui
Bill Mazeroski
Willie Montanez
Jose Pagan
Cal Ripken
Brooks Robinson
Pete Rose
Ron Santo
Ichiro Suzuki
Mark Teixeira
Miguel Tejada
Cesar Tovar
Billy Williams
Maury Wills
Todd Zeile

birtelcom
Editor

No, Steve Finley is not the oldest player to have played 162 games in a regular season. But he is the oldest to do so while generating more value than a replacement player.

John Autin
Editor

Been a long time since “Grady Sizemore” and “durable” appeared in the same context. Anyway…

The 3rd and 4th tables contain 10 and 5 players, respectively:

Third Table

Ernie Banks
Craig Biggio
Steve Finley
Luis Gonzalez
Al Oliver
Cal Ripken
Pete Rose
Ichiro Suzuki
Miguel Tejada
Dave Winfield

Last Table

Carlton Fisk
Julio Franco
Pete Rose
Honus Wagner
Dave Winfield

John Autin
Editor

And so, the complete list of those named in the four tables (some that tied for a lead were not named):

Hank Aaron
Ernie Banks
Albert Belle
Craig Biggio
Tommy Brown
Starlin Castro
Phil Cavarretta
Cesar Cedeno
Tommy Davis
Tony Fernandez
Prince Fielder
Steve Finley
Carlton Fisk
Julio Franco
Jeff Francoeur
Luis Gonzalez
Andruw Jones
Al Kaline
Bob Kennedy
Buddy Lewis
Hideki Matsui
Bill Mazeroski
Willie Montanez
Al Oliver
Mel Ott
Jose Pagan
Cal Ripken
Brooks Robinson
Alex Rodriguez
Pete Rose
Ron Santo
Grady Sizemore
Ichiro Suzuki
Mark Teixeira
Miguel Tejada
Cesar Tovar
Honus Wagner
Billy Williams
Maury Wills
Dave Winfield
Carl Yastrzemski
Delmon Young
Robin Yount
Todd Zeile

The only repeating first names (using the player’s familiar form): Al, Cesar, Tommy.

“Hail, Cesar!”

John Autin
Editor

Jimmy Barrett — Only man to play 162 games in a pre-expansion year. The 1904 Tigers had 10 ties and 152 decisions. Two others had 160 games in the 154-G schedule: Heinie Groh and Tommy Griffith of the 1915 Reds.

TheGoof
Guest
Wally Pipp was a bit of an iron man. He played in 1,426 of his team’s 1,498 games from 1915 and 1924. I think some of those were missed due to military-related work during 1918, when he missed 35 games. Of all players ages 22-31, he ranks 78th, but for pre-162, he ranks 22nd. For that age group, he played the most games during those years, ahead of even his contemporary Everett Scott, and he was tied for third overall for games played in that 10-year span. He did all of this for a franchise that was pathetic when he… Read more »
Lawrence Azrin
Guest

For a team in NYC, the lack of star-quality players on the Highlanders/Yankees from 1903-1919 is a bit surprising. Looking over the rosters those years, I’d call only Keeler, Chesbro big stars, probably Russ Ford and Hal Chase (who had the rep but not the stats), maybe Al Orth (a couple years), Del Pratt, Frank Baker (in decline but still a name).

birtelcom
Editor
I found the pattern in the age 21 column interesting. After Delmon Young has the lead for most games played at age 21, Cal Ripken, the Iron Man of them all, then has the lead at every age 21 and onward ending year through age 38 — that is, age 21 through 22, 21 through 23, 21 through 24, etc. all the way to 21 through 38. Then for the one spot at 21 through 39, Yaz suddenly takes over, only to have Ripken reclaim the lead at 21 through 40, after which Pete Rose takes over for the remainder… Read more »
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