Manny Machado led the majors in 2015 with 153 complete games played. That’s the lowest leading total in an expansion era full-length season, and the 11th straight year that a player has led the majors with fewer than 160 complete games played. Except for Richie Ashburn‘s 152 total in 1956, Machado’s 153 mark also fails to beat the majors-leading total in every full-length pre-expansion season since the 154 game schedule was adopted in 1904.
More on the decline of the ironman after the jump.
The ultimate in ironman seasons is to play every inning of every game of the season. There have been 105 such seasons since 1914 (plus at least 26 more for 1901-13), led by Cal Ripken’s four consecutive campaigns from 1983 to 1986. Since Ripken, only three players have turned in such a campaign, including one (Travis Fryman) in the abbreviated 1995 season. Even before Ripken, the frequency of such seasons had been declining in the expansion era, as indicated below.
- 1914-1960 – 93 seasons (~2 per year)
- 1961-2015 – 12 seasons (~one every 5 years)
Before 1914, these seasons were even more frequent. The 26 known every-inning seasons (those by players playing the same position for all of those innings) for 1901 to 1913 average out neatly at two per year compared to 79 such single-position seasons (~1.7 per season) from 1914 to 1960.
Here’s a table showing the number of every-inning players in each season since 1901 (but only single-position every-inning seasons for 1901-13). There was at least one such player (usually more than one) every season for 30 years (1920-49), but only 18 such seasons in total since then.
Ripken’s four every-inning seasons are the most for any player, and are three more than the total for “Iron Horse” Lou Gehrig whose lone every-inning season was matched by none other than Wally Pipp. Following Ripken with three seasons are Candy Lachance (1902-04) and Mickey Vernon whose every-inning campaigns were well-spaced, in 1942, 1947 and 1953. Twelve players have a pair of every-inning seasons, including six doing so in consecutive seasons, the last (other than Ripken) by Tommy Holmes in 1944-45.
Kid Gleason no longer was in 1905 when the 38 year-old became the oldest player to record an every-inning season while patrolling second base for the Phillies. The youngest are a pair of 21 year-olds: Joe Nealon for the 1906 Pirates; and Stuffy McInnis for the 1912 Athletics.
Jimmy Esmond and George Perring both signed on with the Federal League where each played every inning in that circuit’s final year, which also turned out to be the final season in both their careers. Tony Lupien for the 1948 White Sox is the only other player to play every inning in his final season, while Joe Nealon, Al Simmons (1924 A’s), Earl Averill (1929 Indians), Buddy Hassett (1936 Dodgers) and Billy Johnson (1943 Yankees) all did so in their debut campaigns.
The 131 known every-inning seasons since 1901 break down this way, by position.
- 1B – 35, last by Richie Sexson, 2003 Brewers
- 2B – 11, last by Gene Baker, 1955 Cubs
- 3B – 15, last by Travis Fryman, 1995 Tigers, and Sal Bando, 1969 Athletics
- SS – 20, last by Cal Ripken, 1986 Orioles
- LF – 10, last by Del Ennis, 1949 Phillies
- CF – 15, last by Juan Pierre, 2004 Marlins
- RF – 9, last by Willard Marshall, 1947 Giants
- Multiple Positions (incl. DH) – 16, last by Eddie Murray, 1984 Orioles, and Billy Williams, 1965 Cubs
The breakdown by franchise looks like this:
- 14 – Orioles/Browns
- 13 – Red Sox
- 11 – Tigers
- 10 – Cardinals
- 9 – Yankees, Phillies, Pirates
- 8 – Cubs
- 7 – Athletics
- 6 – Braves, Indians, Twins/Senators
- 5 – Dodgers, Giants, Reds
- 4 – White Sox
- 1 – Brewers, Marlins, two FL teams
Sixteen teams have had two every-inning players in their lineup, including in back-to-back seasons by the 1932-33 Pirates. Quiz: which three of those teams had a pair of future HOFers playing every inning?
The Orioles 4-year run with Ripken matched the Boston Americans’ streak in 1902-05, with LaChance, Freddy Parent and Buck Freeman doing the honors. Next with three straight seasons are the Yankees (1941-43) and Braves (1943-45). Those three seasons by the Yankees made for 5 teams in 6 years with an every-inning player, for a total of 6 such seasons, all by different players (Red Rolfe in 1939, Joe Gordon in 1940, Joe DiMaiggio in 1942, Billy Johnson in 1943, and Nick Etten and Snuffy Stirnweiss in 1944). Dom DiMaggio matched Joe with an every inning season for the 1948 Red Sox, the only brother combo to turn this trick.
Click here for a complete list of every-inning seasons since 1914, and single-position every-inning seasons since 1901.
To close, here are the superlatives for the known every-inning seasons since 1901.
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