By agreeing to return to the Royals for a 10th season, outfielder Alex Gordon will enter 2016 at No. 15 by longevity on the list of active Major League Baseball players who have spent their entire career with the same team.
Who says there is no team loyalty these days?
The top 20 list features a combined 17 World Series championship rings, and at the top of it are four "lifers" who broke in during the 2004 season. MLB.com is going by MLB debut date for these rankings, so the list begins with Twins first baseman Joe Mauer (April 5), Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina (June 3), Mets third baseman David Wright (July 21) and Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard (Sept. 1).
Longest active one-team tenure
The top pitcher on the list and No. 5 overall is Tigers right-hander Justin Verlander, who started a fireworks-filled career on July 4, 2005. Rounding out the top 10 are Mariners right-hander Felix Hernandez (Aug. 4, 2005), Giants right-hander Matt Cain (Aug. 29, 2005), Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman and Cardinals right-hander Adam Wainwright (both on Sept. 1, 2005), and Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier (May 2, 2006).
With teammate Chase Utley moved on to the Dodgers, catcher Carlos Ruiz gives Philadelphia two of the top 11 on this list. He started on May 6, 2006, two years before helping the Phillies win it all.
At No. 12 is Angels right-hander Jered Weaver (May 27, 2006), followed by Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia (Aug. 22, 2006) and Twins closer Glen Perkins (Aug. 21, 2006), while Gordon comes in at No. 15. He debuted at third base with Kansas City on April 2, 2007 -- going 0-for-3 in a win over starter Curt Schilling and the eventual champion Red Sox.
Gordon was just 1-for-22 out of the gates, but he had 601 plate appearances as a rookie and finished that season with a .247 average, 15 home runs and 60 RBIs. He has evolved into a three-time All-Star, a four-time Gold Glove recipient and a leader of back-to-back American League pennant-winning clubs.
No. 16 Tim Lincecum is the only free agent in this top 20, included here due to the possibility the right-hander will be signed again with the Giants. He debuted with them on May 6, 2007. Lincecum is followed by Brewers right fielder Ryan Braun (May 25, 2007), Reds right-hander Homer Bailey (June 8, 2007), Red Sox right-hander Clay Buchholz (Aug. 17, 2007) and Reds first baseman Joey Votto (Sept. 4, 2007).
There are eight starting pitchers in this top 20 (Perkins is the only reliever), and it's worth noting that they have combined for 10 no-hitters. Each of them has thrown at least one except Wainwright, who has come close and returns as a familiar battery with Molina this spring.
Hall of Famers Brooks Robinson (Orioles, 1955-77) and Carl Yastrzemski (Red Sox, 1961-83) share the modern record for the longest consecutive tenure with the same team -- 23 years. Mauer has just passed the halfway point to that, to add perspective to their streaks.