In 2013, I took to The Platoon Advantage to review the players who'd spent the longest tenure with their existing major-league ballclubs. With the advent of the new year, I'm taking a look again at those players who've spent lots of time with their existing team, now from a January 1, 2014 snapshot.
The methodology I'm using is a very simple one: the timeframe is based on a player's major-league debut for his team. If that player is later optioned to the minors, it doesn't count against them -- but signing a contract with another team, getting traded, or retirement, those wipe you out.
I started earlier in the day with the American League, and now I'm finishing up with the 15 teams in the National League.
Debut Date: May 21, 2009
Kris Medlen is, for now, the longest-tenured Atlanta Brave, what with Tim Hudson moving to the Giants and Brian McCann leaving for the Yankees this offseason. However, there's a fly in the ointment. If the Braves re-sign Eric O'Flaherty, then EOF will remain the longest-serving Brave, by about a month and a half. O'Flaherty debuted with Atlanta on April 7, 2009.
Either way, this is a team without a lot of long-time players ... which seems about right for such a youthful squad.
Debut Date: September 15, 2003
In the National League, no player that's not a Phillie has served a longer term with his team than Rickie Weeks. Weeks is another in a long line of franchise players with extremely disappointing 2013 campaigns. Perhaps no player has seen his stock fall faster, as his terrible batting lines in 2012 and 2013 have the Brewers considering Scooter Gennett as the team's Opening Day pivot for 2014. Rickie Weeks and Nick Markakis could perhaps start a support group for long-time franchise cornerstones who never took the "leap" many expected, but still stick around.
Debut Date: June 3, 2004
I'm a little astonished that Yadier Molina has been in the league for a dozen years, but even more astonished that he's only entering his age-31 season in 2014. Molina has gone from least-interesting Molina brother to BY FAR the best player the catching family has produced. Now pairing elite defense with a firmly above-average bat, and functioning as the glue that holds together one of the most respected franchises in baseball, Molina has gone from an interesting player to a perennial MVP candidate.
Debut Date: July 25, 2008
Given the way that the Cubs are reportedly shopping The Shark, this may not last very long. Nevertheless, Samardzija remains the longest-serving Chicago Cub, and it's not particularly close. If he is dealt, reliever James Russell will take over, having debuted in early 2010. I know the Cubs are a rebuilding team, but with Samardzija on the block and Starlin Castro declining, it's more than possible that in 2014 or 2015, Darwin Barney will be the face of the major-league franchise and longest serving Cub. Kris Bryant and Albert Almora can't get to Chicago fast enough.
Debut Date: September 6, 2006
Another franchise player, another huge bummer of a year. Montero was basically an All-Star behind the dish in 2011 and 2012, but 2013 saw him lose his offensive ability almost entirely. The worst part was a nigh-.075 point drop in on-base percentage, transforming him from a dangerous hitter to a dangerous liability at the plate. Montero's still young enough to bounce back for the Snakes, but if his back issues don't clear up and allow him to return to his previous level of performance, fans in Arizona will be disappointed.
Debut Date: May 2, 2006
Here's yet another player who appears to be nearing a move away from his long-term home. With the Dodgers featuring four major-league quality outfielders now, and with a fifth (Joc Pederson) on the way, Ethier is likely to give up this spot to teammate Matt Kemp sooner rather than later. Ethier's sneaky consistency and ability to mash righties give him a role on almost any team, and a bigger helping of plate appearances on pretty much any team other than the Dodgers.
Debut Date: August 29, 2005
In the first year of a huge new contract extension, Matt Cain immediately went from All-Star to mere mortal. While Father Time catches everyone eventually, I'd expect Cain to bounce back a little in 2014, as his peripherals are still mostly what they've been over his eerily consistent career. He's probably not the ace of the Giants anymore (thanks, Madison Bumgarner!), but he's still an important part of a good rotation.
Debut Date: June 8, 2010
Well, here's another one that could change, like the Eric O'Flaherty situation in Atlanta. Right now, the powerful Giancarlo Stanton holds the championship belt, narrowly edging out Alex Sanabia (really, Marlins?) for the crown of old-schoolest Marlin. However, there's still a chance that the recently non-tendered Chris Coghlan could return to the Fish on a minor-league deal, and somehow find his way back onto the big-league squad post-haste.
In last year's article, I said that Coghlan would likely hang onto this spot if he didn't, y'know, find himself out of baseball, and that seems pretty prescient, given his circumstances. The guy's been worth negative fWAR in each of the past three seasons.
Debut Date: July 21, 2004
David Wright is defying the expected aging curve for a player in his position, and followed up his tremendous 2012 season (7.4 fWAR) with his best offensive numbers to date in 2013 (155 wRC+). Like Yadier Molina, Wright is the glue that holds his team together as he enters his age-31 season. Unlike Yadier Molina, Wright's team is not particularly good. Although Wright probably shouldn't be counted on for 700 plate appearances, given his injury history, he's still an integral part of the team and continues to rack up records for a New York player. His current contract takes him through 2020.
There is no truth to the rumor that David Wright and Mr. Met are the same person. That would just be ludicrous.
Debut Date: September 1, 2005
The Nationals have completely rid themselves of anyone from the Montreal years, but Ryan Zimmerman joined the big-league club during its first year in Washington. Since then, he has been a consistent presence in the lineup (except when he's been injured) and a defensive stalwart, at least initially. Now that Zimmerman's arm is becoming a liability, and dragging his defense down, it's expected that his continued place in Washington will be contingent on a move to first base.
Debut Date: May 11, 2005
Last year, I goofed on this one. At the time when I wrote my previous column, Stauffer was non-tendered and I expected he'd be on his way out of San Diego. Not so! Instead, Stauffer converted to relief and was fairly consistent in duty with the Padres through 2013. Expected to return to a relief role for the team in 2014, the former No. 4 overall pick isn't the pitcher the Padres had hoped they'd get in 2003, but at least he wasn't a total bust.
Debut Date: September 17, 2000
Here we go: Jimmy Rollins is the grand old man of the National League, having spent more time with his current club than anyone else in the Senior Circuit, and posting an impressive third place overall, behind Derek Jeter and Paul Konerko. Naturally, the Phillies are looking to move their veteran shortstop, especially given that Rollins is coming off his worst season since 2002. Of course, Rollins is also only one year removed from a 2012 that saw him post 4.8 fWAR, so I wouldn't give up on Jimmy just yet.
It's kind of fun that shortstops are the kings of tenure in both the NL and the AL, as Derek Jeter is the AL's leading man.
Oh, and for what it's worth, the second longest-serving player with his team in the NL ... is also a Phillie! Chase Utley debuted with the Phils on April 4, 2003 -- almost a full season ahead of Milwaukee's Rickie Weeks.
Debut Date: June 4, 2009
While most NL franchise players had down seasons in 2013 (Mr. Wright and Mr. Molina excluded), Andrew McCutchen just buckled down, won an MVP award, and led his team to an improbable -- but well-deserved -- playoff run. You can make a very easy argument that, of all the longest-tenured players in the NL, or perhaps the big leagues, McCutchen is the guy you'd pick first to build your team around. Of course, he's only spent five years with his first and only club, but hey, no biggie.
Debut Date: April 9, 2006
Quick, how many National League players who are their team's longest-serving players played for another team before their current squad? Just one. Brandon Phillips spent parts of four seasons playing for the cross-state rival Indians before making his way to Cincinnati. Unfortunately, Phillips is another one of those players looking to be dealt by his current team soon. But with four career Gold Glove awards and
Debut Date: August 30, 2006
With Todd Helton finally riding off into the sunset, the longest-serving Rockies player is now Troy Tulowitzki, who started with the team a mere nine years after the Toddfather. Tulo is already one of the all-time greats in a Rockies uniform, and provides an unbelievable blend of power and defense at the second-most important position in the game. He'll only have to man the six for, oh, about nine more years to equal Helton's tenure with the team ... no mean feat at all.
I kind of wanted this to be Jeff Francis, who debuted with the Rockies in 2004, but took a one-and-a-half-year sabbatical from the team to visit the Royals and the Reds before returning home to Colorado. But alas, not only is Tulo the better player, he also gets credit for not bailing and moving to the Midwest.
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Bryan Grosnick is the Managing Editor of Beyond the Box Score. You can follow him on Twitter at @bgrosnick.