I did a study a couple of years ago where I looked at 2000 game players and organized them by year they entered the majors. I have re-done that study, but this time I have organized them by decade of birth:
1970s 23 (so far)
And just so you don’t think it’s caused by expanding from a 154- to 162-game schedule, I have included players in the following chart who played 1900 games prior to expansion (there are a few players who overlap the eras: Tommy Davis played 1999 games – I would assume that he’d have played another game in 1961). I didn’t go back into the 19th century trying to figure out 84-, 112-, 126-, 140-game equivalents.
So it’s not going to 162 games per year that caused a spike. Training I’m sure has a lot to do with it. Money I’m sure has played a big roll. I have a feeling that it’s mostly expansion.
Out of curiosity, I decided to look at the players born between 1930 and 1969 and see how many of them played 2000 for the original 16 franchises. In other words, guys like Brett and Yount and Gwynn don’t “count” as playing 2000 games.
It’s not really as instructive as I had hoped. Players born in the ’30s were done or pretty much done by the time free agency came along, so they were stuck with their original franchise, or traded at the franchise’s option. Even a lot of the guys born in the ’40s had little say on where their careers would be played. Guys like Torre and Santo, born in the early ’40s, were basically done by before free agency. Players born after 1945 had a lot more say on where their career landed and had a lot more movement. Lots of these guys have played for 3 or 4 or 5 or even 6 franchises. I thought I might look at who signed them, but quickly realized that was going too far. Was Bagwell a Red Sox or an Astro, for exxample?
Still, getting back to 3for3’s comment, it seems many of the players on the recent GOR ballot have HOF or near HOF caliber stats because of expansion.
Terry and I were talking about Edgar Martinez and about the length of his career. He played 2050+ games, but he only is ranked 33rd of players born in the ’60s. Players born in the ’30s? Cookie Rojas (1822 games) ranks 33rd. Players born in the ’00s? Ben Chapman (1717 games) ranks 33rd. Playing 2000 games since expansion is not the same “value” as playing 2000 before. There are more opportunities to play 2000 games now.