Mains: The most out-of-place Opening Day players

From SABR member Rob Mains at Baseball Prospectus on April 6, 2016:

Put yourself in a parlour with your six grandkids many decades from now, a cup of tea and a box full of vintage baseball cards. You’re painting a picture for them of what baseball used to be like. Your 9-year-old grandson Mischief, or whatever kids are named 45 years from now, pulls out a card and asks you, “What about Jimmy Rollins? Who was he?”

You’ll lead with the Phillies. Then a spark in your brain, and you’ll recall the short time with Dodgers. Will you remember the White Sox? That’s the question. One day after Jimmy Rollins started at shortstop for the White Sox on Opening Day, that’s the question.

Opening Day starting pitchers are pretty easy to figure out: Staff ace, or something close to that—Price vs. Kluber, Archer vs. Stroman, Harvey vs. Ventura, that kind of thing. Position players aren’t the same. You’ll frequently get the weak half of a platoon, or the injury fill-in, or the prospect who doesn’t pan out. For the most part, Opening Day starters are regulars or established bench players with substantial time—past or future—with their club. Sometimes, though, a starter is someone who winds up having a did-that-really-happen tenure with his team, the kind of player you see in an Opening Day lineup listing years later and say either “Who was that?” or “When was he with the team?”

This is a list of the Opening Day starters who played the fewest games with each of the 30 major-league teams. (I excluded the inaugural seasons of expansion teams, on the theory that they were mostly just playing the hand they were dealt.) I went back to the beginning of divisional play in 1969, so this is nearly a half-century of history. For teams that moved, I’ve included their predecessors: Pilots/Brewers, Senators/Rangers, Expos/Nationals.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: April 6, 2016. Last Updated: April 6, 2016.