(Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier)
The Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks got an early jump on the 2014 MLB season with a two-game series last weekend in Australia. The Dodgers won both games.
Playing a season opener in Australia was not the only strange part of this year’s first games for the Dodgers. If you look at the starting line-up from that first game, a pair of fixtures in the Los Angeles line-up for the past several were missing (or moved to another spot). Matt Kemp had been the starting center fielder in the last five Opening Day games for the Dodgers, but he is currently on the disabled list recovering from off-season ankle surgery. Right-fielder Andre Ethier has been the starting RF for the Dodgers in the past five Opening Day games, but he moved over to take Kemp’s spot in center for the first game this year.
Kemp and Ethier were just two of 29 active players in 2013 who have been the Opening Day starter at the same position for the same team for five or more consecutive seasons.
Former Colorado first baseman Todd Helton held the longest current streak of Opening Day starts for the same team at the same position with 16 straight starts. He has since retired. If Paul Konerko gets the start at first base for the White Sox on Opening Day and Jimmy Rollins starts at short for the Phillies in their first game, it will be the 14th straight start on Opening Day for these two players at the same position for the same team.
Here’s a look at the 29 active players in 2013 who through last season had started at the same position for the same team in the past five (or more) seasons. The list is by position. (Example: Toddy Helton, Colorado, 16… Todd Helton has been the starting first baseman for the Colorado Rockies for the past 16 Opening Days)
Catchers: Yadier Molina, St. Louis, 9
First Basemen: Todd Helton, Colorado, 16; Paul Konerko, White Sox, 13; Joey Votto, Cincinnati, 5
Second Basemen: Dustin Pedroia, Boston, 8; Rickie Weeks, Milwaukee, 8; Robinson Cano, Yankees, 8; Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati, 7; Howie Kendrick, Angels, 7
Shortstops: Jimmy Rollins, Philadelphia, 13; Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado, 7; Alexei Ramirez, White Sox, 5; Erick Aybar, Angels, 5; Elvis Andrus, Texas, 5
Third Basemen: David Wright, Mets, 9; Ryan Zimmerman, Washington, 8; Pablo Sandoval, San Francisco, 5; Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay, 5
Left Fielder: Alfonso Soriano, Cubs, 6; Ryan Braun, Milwaukee, 6
Center Fielder: Adam Jones, Baltimore, 6; Matt Kemp, Dodgers, 5
Right Fielder: Nick Markakis, Baltimore, 7; Jay Bruce, Cincinnati, 5; Andre Ethier, Dodgers, 5; Nelson Cruz, Baltimore, 5
Pitchers: Justin Verlander, Detroit, 6; C.C. Sabathia, Yankees, 5; Felix Hernandez, Seattle, 5
Some of the players listed above will not be continuing their streaks this Opening Day: Soriano is longer with the Cubs and now plays for the Yankees; as mentioned above, Helton has retired; Milwaukee’s Braun has moved from left field to right field; Cano left the Yankees for Seattle; Cruz is now in Texas after moving from Texas. Keep an eye on this year’s Opening Days starting line-ups to see which of the above players continue their streaks this season.
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