Early 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 upon us, 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.
Just, for the record, 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.
Today, we'll take a look, team-by-team -- starting with the American League.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: Howie Kendrick
Debut Date: April 26, 2006
Howie Kendrick is a long-term Angel, despite being mentioned in quite a few trade rumors this offseason. The Angels actually still have three guys on their roster who're productive starters, and were called up in '06: Kendrick, shortstop Erick Aybar, and pitcher Jered Weaver.
Houston Astros: Jason Castro
Debut Date: June 22, 2010
The AL team with the shortest-tenured guy in their clubhouse is, surprise surprise, the rebuilding Houston Astros. Castro got 217 plate appearances with the big club in 2010, and that gives him the nod over teammate Brett Wallace. He's also logged quite a bit more service time than Brett in the interim.
Oakland Athletics: Daric Barton
Debut Date: September 10, 2007
I continue to be mystified that Daric Barton has a place on the Athletics' roster. Barton had a much better offensive season in 2013 than he did in any of the past few years, but he only showed up for 120 plate appearances in the big leagues. Barton is probably going to continue to get few opportunities in Oakland with Brandon Moss kicking around.
Toronto Blue Jays: Dustin McGowan
Debut Date: July 30, 2005
I actually neglected to put McGowan on my list from last year, due to the fact that he'd hardly pitched at all over the last five years. After posting just 21 big-league innings between 2009 and 2012, thanks to a series of injuries, McGowan threw 25 and two-thirds good innings for the Jays in relief last season. There's word he'll get a look as a starter in 2014, but just the fact that he's on the roster right now is kind of a cool thing.
Cleveland Indians: Asdrubal Cabrera
Debut Date: August 8, 2007
The Indians aren't a team with a whole lot of recent continuity, with long-time players like Rafael Perez, Grady Sizemore, and Travis Hafner moving on to other locations of late. Cabrera, over the last three years, has been the best-hitting shortstop in the American League (110 wRC+). Cabrera had an ineffective 2013, but he remains a valuable offensive player at a shallow position.
Seattle Mariners: Felix Hernandez
Debut Date: August 4, 2005
Since the fall of Ichiro from international superstar to fourth outfielder / Yankee, there's only been one true superstar in Seattle. The King is a perennial Cy Young candidate, a five-win-plus starting pitcher, and one of the most consistent players in baseball. Oh yeah, and he's just finished the best season of his career. He's the prototypical franchise starting pitcher.
Baltimore Orioles: Nick Markakis
Debut Date: April 3, 2006
After a glorious six-win 2008, Nick Markakis has been quite the disappointment in Baltimore. While he works hard and consistently produces above-average production with the bat, he's combined for fewer fWAR over the last five years combined than he had in his more-productive two-year stretch from 2007 and 2008. Markakis has turned into a poor defender in right field, and his bat fell apart in 2013, a source of much disappointment for the Batlimore faithful. He was one of two AL guys on this list to put up negative value over the course of a full season last year, though he could still bounce back to respectability.
Texas Rangers: Matt Harrison
Debut Date: July 8, 2008
Other than the rebuilding Astros, the Rangers are the team with the shortest-tenured player in the American League. Given how good the team's been recently, and how many homegrown stars have come out of Arlington, this may come as a bit of a surprise. But with Ian Kinsler off to Detroit, starter Matt Harrison actually holds the tenure record for the Rangers. Despite only logging two full seasons of work out of the last six, Harrison has been incredibly productive when healthy. He's not the flashiest name on our list, by far, but he's a fine pitcher.
Tampa Bay Rays: Ben Zobrist
Debut Date: August 1, 2006
Things Ben Zobrist doesn't do well on a baseball field: make outs. The other thing I considered putting here was "play catcher," but I have no proof that he can't do that. Evan Longoria may be the face of the Rays, but Zobrist is the longest-serving one, thanks to 198 awful plate appearances in 2006. He's also the only guy on the team who hasn't been exorcised, meaning he's the last guy to stick with the team since the "Devil Rays" years.
Boston Red Sox: David Ortiz
Debut Date: April 1, 2003
As the third-longest tenured player in the American League, David Ortiz seems as much a Boston baseball institution as the Green Monster. In truth, he doesn't have all that much more tenure with his team than the reps from the Blue Jays, Mariners, or Tigers.
Interestingly, Ortiz is one of only two AL players to actually put in time playing for a major league club prior to the one they're currently playing for. The other one also plays for a team with "Sox" in the name.
Kansas City Royals: Alex Gordon
Debut Date: April 2, 2007
The only thing I'm going to say here is that I still don't understand why this guy doesn't play third base, like nature intended.
Detroit Tigers: Justin Verlander
Debut Date: July 4, 2005
Justin Verlander had an ugly 2013, by Justin Verlander standards. His FIP rose above 3.00 for the first time since 2008 (3.28), his K% dipped back to 23.5%, and he only posted an ERA- / FIP- about 20% better than league average in just 218 and 1/3 innings. Instead of being a no-brainer Cy Young winner, he was merely a five-win starter who dominated in the playoffs.
This man is the very definition of ace. The Tigers are pretty lucky.
Minnesota Twins: Joe Mauer
Debut Date: April 5, 2004
The Twins' franchise
catcher first baseman will be hard-pressed to repeat his value to the team at a far less important position, as I detailed earlier this offseason. Nevertheless, I wouldn't want many of the other guys on the list over Mauer. He's an offensive weapon and -- basically -- the most important Minnesota player since Kirby Puckett.
Chicago White Sox: Paul Konerko
Debut Date: April 5, 1999
For the first time in 15 years, this name will change after the 2014 season ends. Konerko claims to be retiring after the upcoming season, and he's basically a part-time player at this point. Nevertheless, he's one of two AL players who debuted with their current team in the 90's. I'd make a Friends or a Pearl Jam joke, but it feels too easy.
New York Yankees: Derek Jeter
Debut Date: May 29, 1995
For another year, the Captain is the king of team loyalty. He's about to enter his 20th season in pinstripes, which seems like a ton of time -- even for long-time baseball lifers. After two decades of tremendous hitting and suspect defense, Jeter's cemented his place in Yankee lore in no small part due to the sheer amount of time he's spent anchoring some dynamite Yankee squads.
Now, who else is excited that Alex Rodriguez will take over this spot in 2015 if Jeter retires?
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Bryan Grosnick is the Managing Editor of Beyond the Box Score. You can follow him on Twitter at @bgrosnick.