Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Most Consecutive Seasons with a Different Opening Day Starter: Catcher

After looking at teams that had long stretches with a different Opening Day starting pitcher, let's move behind the plate (SPC1B2BSS, 3B, LF, CF, RFDH):

X different Opening Day Starting Catchers in X Seasons (since 1914)
White Sox 9 1927-35
Tigers 8 1958-65
Royals 7 1996-2002
Royals 7 1995-2001
Angels 7 1992-98
Indians 7 1975-81
Angels 7 1968-74
Braves 7 1988-94
Indians 7 1941-47

Baseball-Reference takes us back until 1914 and while Retrosheet provides starting pitchers in their game logs, it doesn't have that for other positions.

Between the departure of Hall of Famer Ray Schalk and the acquisition of veteran Luke Sewell, the White Sox had a lot of turnover in the early 1930s. The most notable name in their 1927-35 string is 1928 starter Moe Berg. The Princeton graduate spoke 12 languages, but as his pitcher Ted Lyons said, "he couldn't hit in any of them." His 49 OPS+ and 48 wRC+ in 1961 plate appearances make him the worst-hitting catcher of the live-ball era, but he did throw out 43% of opposing base stealers. What he's known for best is his post-MLB life as an OSS spy during World War II. This is a terrific Berg biography from SABR.

Chicago's mark was challenged by the 1960s Tigers, but Bill Freehan provided stability, as did Javy Lopez to the 1990s Braves and Mike Hegan to the Indians in the 1940s and 50s. Kansas City has two overlapping runs with the same seven catchers in a different order.

No teams will be joining this list anytime soon. Six teams have an active streak of three:

Braves: Brian McCann, Gerald Laird, Evan Gattis
Mariners: Miguel Olivo, Jesus Montero, Mike Zunino
Marlins: John Buck, Rob Brantly, Jarrod Saltalamacchia
Mets: Josh Thole, John Buck, Travis d'Arnaud
Rangers: Yorvit Torrealba, A.J. Pierzynski, J.P. Arencibia
Yankees: Russell Martin, Francisco Cervelli, Brian McCann

The Rangers and Braves will extend their streaks to four this year, but they still have a way to go.

The full list of catchers from the teams shown above:

White Sox 9 1927-35 Ray Schalk, Moe Berg, Chick Autry, Johnny Riddle, Bennie Tate, Frank Grube, Charlie Berry, Merv Shea, Luke Sewell
Tigers 8 1958-65 Jim Hegan, Red Wilson, Lou Berberet, Dick Brown, Mike Roarke, Gus Triandos, Bill Freehan
Royals 7 1996-2002 Mike Macfarlane, Tim Spehr, Mike Sweeney, Chad Kreuter, Brian Johnson, Hector Ortiz, Brent Mayne
Royals 7 1995-2001 Brent Mayne, Mike Macfarlane, Tim Spehr, Mike Sweeney, Chad Kreuter, Brian Johnson, Hector Ortiz
Angels 7 1992-98 Lance Parrish, John Orton, Greg Myers, Andy Allanson, Jorge Fabregas, Jim Leyritz, Matt Walbeck
Indians 7 1975-81 John Ellis, Alan Ashby, Ray Fosse, Ron Pruitt, Gary Alexander, Ron Hassey, Bo Diaz
Angels 7 1968-74 Buck Rodgers, Tom Satriano, Joe Azcue, Jerry Moses, Jeff Torborg, John Stephenson, Ellie Rodriguez
Braves 7 1988-94 Ozzie Virgil, Jody Davis, Ernie Whitt, Mike Heath, Greg Olson, Damon Berryhill, Javy Lopez
Indians 7 1941-47 Rollie Hemsley, Gene Desautels, Buddy Rosar, Jim McDonell, Hank Ruszkowski, Frankie Hayes, Mike Hegan

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