If the 2014 Major League Baseball season has taught us anything it’s how fragile a pitcher can be. Tommy John Surgery is spreading across the league with casualties of all skillsets. For most pitchers a stint on the disabled list in their career is almost a necessity. Thankfully there are some position players out there who can still take the field every day to provide an offensive spark and makeup for the missing ace.
All baseball fans know Robinson Cano is good. He hits for power, he hits for average, and he is very talented with the glove. An underappreciated part of Cano’s game is how durable he has been. Since 2007 has played in 159 games or more each season. An ability to stay healthy and remain in the lineup, the Seattle Mariners look far less crazy for giving the star second baseman such a long and expensive contract prior to the 2014 season. Hopefully the Seattle rain doesn’t cause an aches in his joints to flare up too much.
Chicago Cubs fans have little to get excited about. One constant they could focus on has been shortstop Starlin Castro. With exception to his poor 2013 season, Castro has been the guy that makes the Cubs’ offense go since making his debut in 2010. Castro’s ability to stay healthy has benefited the Cubs in times of need. If only the rest of the team around him was talented maybe the effects could be a larger reward. So far in 2014 he looks back to his usual self and headed toward a great career.
Until his season-ending injury in May of 2014, first baseman Prince Fielder had held the longest active streak of consecutive games played with 547 of them. As a first baseman that is heavily relied upon by whatever team he plays for, Fielder has made it a huge part of his game to get in the starting lineup. Since becoming a full-time player in 2006 Fielder’s lowest game total for a season was 157 in his rookie season. His ability to stay healthy has been the most underrated attribute of Fielder’s career thus far making criticisms on his play seem ridiculous. The Texas Rangers are hoping he can come back in 2015 feeling healthier than ever with a 162 games logged on his stat sheet.
It’s very clear how much outfielder Hunter Pence loves to play baseball. From his days with the Houston Astros, to his brief stint with the Philadelphia Phillies, and finally in his current era with the San Francisco Giants Pence has been a player the manager and teammates can count on to be ready for the game. Not quite a superstar, Pence is still an ideal outfielder any team would love to have. The fewest games Pence has played in a season beyond his rookie season has been 154. When Pence has sat it usually was late in the season to keep him fresh for the playoffs.
We may never understand just how good Ichiro Suzuki was and how much fun it was watching him play until after he retires. Since 2001 when he first came to America with dreams of setting the all-time hits records for a single season, the fewest games he has played in a season is 146. This was because he started the 2009 season on the disabled list due to a bleeding ulcer the team doctor said was caused by stress. Suzuki still managed 225 hits despite missing two weeks. Unfortunately for Suzuki his career is winding down and he plays for the New York Yankees now in an already full outfield. To no fault of his own he has been playing less in 2014. He hasn’t been completely written-off though and continues to prove he is one of the all-time greats.
More from this contributor:
Records and Achievements Japanese Players Have in the MLB
Second Generation MLB Stars: Where Are They?
Four Underappreciated Pitching Staffs in the MLB