Thursday, April 2, 2015

Most Consecutive Seasons with a Different Opening Day Starter: Center Field

The series continues (SPC1B2BSS, 3B, LF, CF, RFDH) as we look at teams that had long stretches with a different Opening Day center fielder:

X different Opening Day Starting Center Fielder in X Seasons (since 1914)
Cubs 12 1956-67
Browns/Orioles 10 1951-60
Padres 9 2003-11
White Sox 9 1995-2003
Mets 9 1988-96
Cubs 9 1976-84
Angels 9 1973-81
Athletics 9 1951-59

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.

The 12-player streak at the top includes three notable guys who aren't really thought of as Cubs: Bobby Thomson, Richie Ashburn and Lou Brock. Lance Johnson started the 1995-2003 run by the White Sox before snapping the nine-year run by the Mets in 1997.

Here's the full list of center fielders from the teams shown above. Some interesting names here include future Hall of Fame manager Dick Williams, the well-traveled, terribly-underrated Kenny Lofton and the tragic case of Lyman Bostock.

Cubs 12 1956-67 Gale Wade, Bob Will, Bobby Thomson, George Altman, Richie Ashburn, Al Heist, Lou Brock, Don Landrum, Billy Cowan, Billy Williams, Ty Cline, Adolfo Phillips
Browns/Orioles 10 1951-60 Roy Sievers, Jim Rivera, Johnny Groth, Gil Coan, Cal Abrams, Tito Francona, Dick Williams, Jim Busby, Willie Tasby, Jackie Brandt
Padres 9 2003-11 Mark Kotsay, Jay Payton, Xavier Nady, Dave Roberts, Mike Cameron, Scott Hairston, Jody Gerut, Tony Gwynn Jr., Cameron Maybin
White Sox 9 1995-2003 Lance Johnson, Darren Lewis, Dave Martinez, Mike Cameron, Darrin Jackson, Chris Singleton, Jose Valentin, Kenny Lofton, Aaron Rowand
Mets 9 1988-96 Lenny Dykstra, Mookie Wilson, Keith Miller, Vince Coleman, Howard Johnson, Joe Orsulak, Ryan Thompson, Brett Butler, Lance Johnson
Cubs 9 1976-84 Rick Monday, Jerry Morales, Gene Clines, Jerry Martin, Carlos Lezcano, Scot Thompson, Ty Waller, Leon Durham, Bob Dernier
Angels 9 1973-81 Ken Berry, Mickey Rivers, Morris Nettles, Rusty Torres, Bruce Bochte, Lyman Bostock, Rick Miller, Al Cowens, Fred Lynn
Athletics 9 1951-59 Sam Chapman, Elmer Valo, Dave Philley, Vic Power, Bill Wilson, Harry Simpson, Bob Cerv, Woodie Held, Bill Tuttle

1 comment:

  1. I grew up in Southern California in the '70s; when I saw Bruce Bochte listed as an opening-day center fielder for the Angels, I thought, "That has to be a misprint."

    Apparently not. Bochte had 32 major-league innings in CF (310 games) when he took the field as the Angels' 1977 opening-day center fielder, (Threw out a baserunner in the second inning of the opener, too.) He played at least part of each of his 25 games for the '77 Angels in center, then was traded to Cleveland, where he played 112 games, one in center field. For the '78 Mariners, who finished 56-104, Bochte played 19 games in center when Ruppert Jones wasn't in the lineup. Bochte never played center in any of the rest of his seven major-league seasons. I remember him as a competent but very immobile left fielder and first baseman. The thought of him playing center seems completely absurd.