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Baseball's current iron-horses

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Manny Machado was the only player to play in all 162 games in 2015. Here’s a look at the most durable players in the game and the impact they have had on their teams over the last few seasons.

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Baseball has a grueling season that begins when the snows starts to melt and ends when all the leaves are off the trees. The days of playing hurt and being on the field at all costs are well behind us as the baseball mentality has changed significantly over the past few decades.

In today's game, teams rightly view players as assets with a shelf-life, and with the increasing salaries for stars and scrubs alike, owners and general managers want the best out of their players over the longer term. New concussion protocols, more sophisticated research on arm injuries, and the lack of drug enhancers that heal bodies quickly all combine to limit the time players are on the field. Managers schedule days off and predetermine who will sit in day-games-after-night-games regardless of the time of year and teams are far more reluctant to pencil players into the lineup if they are not 100 percent healthy.

Last season only Manny Machado played in all 162 games. A few players were not too far behind, but no one else took the field in every single game. By position, here's a look at the iron men of baseball for 2015:

Position Name Games Played
Catcher Buster Posey 150
First Base Anthony Rizzo/Chris Davis 160
Second Base Brian Dozier 157
Third Base Manny Machado 162
Shortstop Elvis Andrus 160
Left Field Yoenis Cespedes 159
Center Field Mike Trout / Kevin Pillar 159
Right Field Kole Calhoun 159

Not surprisingly, Buster Posey played the least of this group of ‘iron men'. Catching wears a player down more than any other position. Posey was the only regular catcher to play in 150 games, though in 42 of those games he manned first base.

For those who are surprised that Salvador Perez is not on the list, he very well could be the catching leader! If I am only considering time at catcher then Perez is the iron man. He played in 139 games behind the dish, five more than runner up Yadier Molina and 33 more than overall catching iron man Buster Posey.

Both Anthony Rizzo and Chris Davis played in 160 games last season, but Davis played 30 games in the outfield and 22 games at DH. Rizzo manned first base day-in-and-day-out for the Cubs; it is the second time in three years he played in 160 games.

Elvis Andrus is a model of consistency on the left side of the Rangers infield. Since the Rangers brought him up in 2009, he has played in at least 145 games every single season, with at least 150 each season since 2011.

The outfield shows some familiar names, and despite dealing with a nagging wrist injury, Mike Trout still managed to appear in nearly every game for the Angels. Of his 159 games in the outfield, 156 of them were in center field.

Durability is often an overlooked aspect of a star, but just because a player takes the field every day does not mean he is accruing value. Taking a three year view, only 27 players have averaged at least 150 games per season and their results are varied.

Name Age Games Avg per Year PA HR R RBI SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ WAR
Evan Longoria 28 482 161 2063 75 248 252 9 .264 .331 .446 .334 116 14.1
Kyle Seager 26 480 160 2035 73 235 239 22 .265 .333 .444 .339 119 13.4
Josh Donaldson 28 474 158 2074 94 304 314 19 .284 .366 .508 .377 143 22.9
Mike Trout 22 473 158 2103 104 328 298 60 .303 .404 .569 .413 172 27.5
Robinson Cano 31 473 158 2020 62 240 268 19 .305 .366 .471 .36 132 13.2
Elvis Andrus 25 473 158 2044 13 232 170 94 .264 .317 .34 .293 78 5.5
Adrian Gonzalez 32 472 157 1944 77 228 306 2 .281 .342 .474 .351 127 9.5
Nick Markakis 30 471 157 2096 27 243 162 7 .281 .347 .373 .319 100 3.8
Alexei Ramirez 32 470 157 1953 31 204 184 68 .269 .301 .382 .3 87 5.8
Matt Carpenter 28 469 156 2091 47 326 221 12 .288 .378 .453 .364 134 16
Ian Desmond 28 468 156 1944 63 219 233 58 .256 .311 .423 .321 102 10.5
Alcides Escobar 27 468 156 1924 10 207 149 70 .258 .29 .331 .274 70 5.9
Todd Frazier 28 464 155 1938 83 233 242 39 .255 .32 .457 .338 112 12.2
Billy Butler 24 464 155 1872 39 182 213 0 .271 .341 .394 .323 105 -0.2
Jose Altuve 28 464 155 2068 27 235 177 129 .313 .349 .426 .336 113 9.8
Gerardo Parra 27 461 154 1826 33 226 139 33 .273 .32 .408 .317 96 5
Anthony Rizzo 27 460 153 2007 86 254 259 28 .265 .365 .484 .367 134 13.1
Andrew McCutchen 24 460 153 2007 69 277 263 56 .308 .405 .512 .395 157 21.1
Brian Dozier 28 460 153 2034 69 285 214 47 .24 .322 .425 .328 107 10.7
Carlos Santana 27 460 153 1968 66 215 244 19 .243 .366 .425 .349 123 8.8
Adam Jones 28 456 152 1952 89 262 286 24 .279 .313 .479 .342 115 13.3
Jay Bruce 27 454 151 1891 74 232 262 28 .237 .303 .433 .316 97 3.3
Justin Upton 26 453 151 1904 82 256 253 35 .262 .344 .47 .354 127 10.6
Adrian Beltre 35 452 151 1923 67 250 252 3 .309 .365 .485 .366 128 15.3
Ian Kinsler 32 451 150 2015 41 279 237 40 .283 .33 .42 .329 106 12
Andrelton Simmons 30 450 150 1817 28 180 149 15 .252 .301 .357 .289 82 9.7
Erick Aybar 24 450 150 1868 16 219 166 43 .273 .308 .366 .296 91 6.7

To have a player such as Mike Trout, Josh Donaldson and Adam Jones out there every day is certainly valuable for a team, and the large payouts for players like Robinson Cano and Justin Upton certainly include the notion that these players will play every day. By and large, the names on this list are productive players who are valued highly by their teams for their production and their durability.

There are names on this list one would expect, such as Trout, Andrus, and Evan Longoria, but others who are rather surprising due to a lack of value. Some teams call on players to play every day despite limited production. In one instance, over the course of 464 games in the last three years, Billy Butler has amassed a negative fWAR. He has barely been an above average hitter and provided the Royals and A's with no defensive value. Despite this, Butler is still slated as the Athletics designated hitter! Similarly, despite starting on average, 151 games per year, Jay Bruce only posted about three wins above replacement (combined over three years) while serving as a below league average hitter (97 wRC+).

Durability is generally viewed as a positive and when an All-Star takes the field 150 times per year. While playing in nearly every game is an asset for an organization, it is becoming more of a rarity to see an iron-man who will take the field every single day playing through injury and the dog-days of summer. Most players on the list above create their value in the process of taking the field daily, although a number of them simply get the innings because they are healthy and not because they are amassing large value.

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Steven Martano is an Editor at Beyond the Box Score and a Contributing Prospect Writer for the Colorado Rockies at Purple Row. You can follow him on Twitter at @SMartano.