There’s two weeks left in the major league season, and we all know the big dramatic storylines unfolding. The American League wild card race changes daily, Atlanta and San Francisco are trying to hang on to win division titles, and the home run race between Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Salvador Perez, and Shohei Ohtani is one for the ages.
But there also are some rather unheralded things happening, like the eight players sitting between 35 and 40 doubles, or Julio Urias looking to become the National League’s first 20-game winner since Max Scherzer in 2016. But there’s one category that’s particularly incredible amid a global pandemic.
Marcus Semien and Whit Merrifield are on the verge of joining an exclusive club, not only as the only two men who have appeared in every game this season, but as the potential 51st and 52nd players all-time to appear in 162 games in multiple seasons.
Semien, who was a literal everyday player for the A’s two years ago, is on track to be part of an even more select group: players to take part in 162 games for more than one team in their careers. Only 17 players have done that, according to Stathead:
Pete Rose: 1965 and 1974-77 Reds, 1979-80 and 1982 Phillies
Steve Garvey: 1976-80 and 1982 Dodgers, 1985 Padres
Miguel Tejada: 2001-03 A’s, 2004-06 Orioles
Juan Pierre: 2003-05 Marlins, 2006 Cubs, 2007 Dodgers
Prince Fielder: 2009 and 2011 Brewers, 2012-13 Tigers
Ichiro: 2005, 2008, and 2010 Mariners, 2012 Mariners/Yankees
Joe Carter: 1986 and 1989 Cleveland, 1990 Padres, and 1991 Blue Jays
Alfredo Griffin: 1982-83 Blue Jays, 1985-86 A’s
Alex Rodriguez: 2001-02 Rangers, 2005 Yankees
Freddy Galvis: 2017 Phillies, 2018 Padres
Manny Machado: 2015 Orioles, 2018 Orioles/Dodgers
Starlin Castro: 2012 Cubs, 2019 Marlins
Carlos Lee: 2005 Brewers, 2007 Astros
Steve Finley: 1992 Astros, 2004 Diamondbacks/Dodgers
Rusty Staub: 1971 Expos, 1978 Tigers
Felix Millan: 1969 Atlanta, 1975 Mets
Rocky Colavito: 1961 Tigers, 1965 Cleveland
Colavito actually played 163 games for Detroit in 1961, thanks to a game that became a tie due to rain. Semien could do the same if there’s a one-game playoff for that wild card. But the most difficult record to break in the sport still belongs to Maury Wills, who logged 165 games for the 1962 Dodgers, who tied the Giants for the National League pennant, then played and lost a three-game playoff to decide it.
Nobody has played more than 163 games in a season since Frank Taveras’ 164-game campaign in 1979, and he did it by getting traded in April from the Pirates, who had played 11 games at the time of the deal, to the Mets, who were only nine games into their season, had a day off when they acquired Taveras, and got him into an 8-0 game at Veterans Stadium as a defensive replacement upon his arrival on April 20.
The last player to appear in 163 games? That’s Justin Morneau, whose 2008 MVP season with the Twins included a one-game playoff for the AL Central title. But speaking of MVP seasons, what if the Blue Jays are in a wild-card tiebreaker and Guerrero goes deep to win both the postseason berth and the home run title?
Could that be what gets him the MVP over Ohtani? Still probably not, but Semien, whose next homer will make Toronto the first team with a pair of 40-dinger men since the 2015 Angels (Albert Pujols and Mike Trout), Blue Jays (Jose Bautista and Josh Donaldson) and Rockies (Nolan Arenado and Carlos Gonzalez), cannot be denied his history by voters. That’s good, because he’s leading all position players in WAR... and yet is going to finish a distant third in the MVP race.