Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon

news

MLB News

5 who come to play every day

Cano, Miggy, A-Gon, Holliday, Jones lead the pack of today's iron men
MLB.com @castrovince

Though there are certainly statistics that give us a true gauge of player performance, one number that resonates deeply with real, live ballplayers in actual Major League clubhouses is a deceptively simple one: games played.

In the room of athletes trying to survive the grind of 162, there is value placed upon those who "post up," guys who play through pain and provide stability, night in and night out. But for a variety of reasons, such players are increasingly rare.

Though there are certainly statistics that give us a true gauge of player performance, one number that resonates deeply with real, live ballplayers in actual Major League clubhouses is a deceptively simple one: games played.

In the room of athletes trying to survive the grind of 162, there is value placed upon those who "post up," guys who play through pain and provide stability, night in and night out. But for a variety of reasons, such players are increasingly rare.

Baseball doesn't currently have an "Iron Man" in the vein of Cal Ripken Jr. or even Robert Downey Jr. But it does have a few position players who have proven to be more durable than others.

Here are five who stand out:

Robinson Cano, Mariners
Cano debuted with the Yankees on May 3, 2005. From that date forward, his teams have played a total of 1,632 games, and Cano has appeared in 1,569 of them -- 96.1 percent. That includes his 2006 disabled-list stint with a hamstring injury. If we just go back to 2007, Cano has appeared in 98.6 percent of his team's games.

Video: BOS@SEA: Cano robs Pedroia with great diving stop

Only 36 of those appearances were logged as a designated hitter, so that's a ton of innings at a demanding defensive position. Cano actually did miss some time due to injury last year, but it was time lost in the Japan All-Star Series, during which he broke his right pinkie toe. At the big league level, he's been one of the game's most durable forces.

Current Consecutive-Games Streaks*
Freddie Freeman Braves 206
Adrian Beltre Rangers 179
Kyle Seager Mariners 164
Ian Kinsler Tigers 155
Robinson Cano Mariners 102
Chris Coghlan Cubs 102
 
*Through May 19, 2015 (Elias)

Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
Cabrera joined the 400-homer club last week, and he'll likely reach 1,400 RBIs this week. He has compiled more than 2,200 hits and nearly 4,000 total bases.

But here's a number that doesn't get discussed as much when it comes to Miggy: Zero. As in, the number of days he's spent on the disabled list in his 13 seasons.

Video: MIL@DET: Miggy enjoys his first triple of the season

That's pretty amazing when you consider what Cabrera has played through in recent seasons -- the sports hernia in 2013 and the foot and ankle issues last year, with offseason surgery following each season. Last year, Cabrera needed 25 games at DH (or 42.4 percent of his career total at the position), and the assumption is that he'll see more and more time there as he gets deeper into his 30s. But for now, Cabrera takes great pride in playing a defensive position while logging his superb stats. Since his June 2003 debut with the Marlins, he's appeared in 97.3 percent of his team's games.

Adrian Gonzalez, Dodgers
The Dodgers went into this season with a plan for getting Gonzo more rest. Of course, they had the same plan last year, and Gonzalez wound up starting 153 games anyway. But this year, Don Mattingly actually has already filled out three lineup cards without Gonzalez's name. It's an effort to keep the 33-year-old's bat fresh, and boy, has that bat been productive.

Video: COL@LAD: Dodgers strike first on Adrian's double

Even if he's getting more frequent time off than he's accustomed to, the fact remains that Gonzalez, who is known to box in the winter to stay physically fit, has avoided the disabled list in 10 seasons as a regular, logging 1,470 games played since 2006. His durability is especially impressive given that he's spent the bulk of his career in the National League. Gonzalez has made just 39 career starts as a DH, and 31 of those were with the Rangers way back in 2005.

Matt Holliday, Cardinals
Another longtime NLer who doesn't have the benefit of the daily DH spot to fall back on. Actually, Holliday did DH one day last week in Cleveland, but we'll let him slide on that one. After all, he was hit square in the left elbow by a 94-mph fastball from Corey Kluber the night before, when the temperature was in the upper 40s. The Cards were both surprised and not surprised that Holliday was able to suit up and swing a bat the next day -- surprised because the elbow was badly bruised and not surprised because, well, Holliday rarely takes a holiday.

Video: STL@CLE: Holliday extends lead with an RBI single

Over 12 seasons with the Rockies, A's and Cardinals, Holliday has appeared in 89.7 percent of his team's games.

Adam Jones, Orioles
There are many players worthy of filling the fifth spot on this list. Despite some late-career injury issues, Albert Pujols has long since earned "The Machine" nickname. Alexei Ramirez always suits up at shortstop (with exactly 158 games played in each of the past four seasons). It took a fastball that broke a rib to yank Andrew McCutchen out of the Pirates' lineup, and only then for the 15-day DL minimum. And a special shout-out to Royals catcher Salvador Perez, who started a record 158 games behind the plate between the regular and postseason last year, then went to the Japan All-Star Series.

Video: LAA@BAL: Jones' two-run double gives O's 3-0 lead

But in an "Iron Man" discussion such as this, it only feels right to include an Oriole who plays up the middle.

Jones hasn't avoided injury in his career. His 2009 season ended abruptly with a sprained ankle. But in the time since, he has summoned the spirit of Ripken and become the embodiment of what Buck Showalter sees as the Oriole ideal. Jones comes to play every day. In fact, he literally did play every day in 2012. Going back to the beginning of 2010, Jones has appeared in 817 of the O's 846 games. That doesn't Cal-culate to 100 percent (like what I did there?), but it's pretty darned close.

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Miguel Cabrera, Robinson Cano, Adrian Gonzalez, Matt Holliday, Adam Jones