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Working Overtime
2005-09-30 22:15
by Mike Carminati

As I was reminded baseball changed its rules a few years back so that a three-way tie between the Red Sox, Yankees, and Indians would result in two playoff games. The first would decide the AL East champ, and the second would pair the East loser with the Indians (even though technically, they would no longer be tied.

With the Sox winning and Indians losing, the only way this scenario could play out is if 1) the Yanks and Bosox split, and 2) the Indians win both games from the White Sox.

When Hideki Matsui and Alex Rodriguez appeared in the game tonight, the played in their 160th game of the season. Let's say the three-way tie scenario becomes a reality and the Yankees lose the AL East playoff. Both of those players could end up playing 164 games since these playoffs count as regular season games.

By the same token, Bobby Abreu has played every Phillies game this year. If the Phils win one more of their remaining games than the Astros, they would have a wild card playoff. Abreu could potentially play 163 games.

That made me wonder how often a player exceeded the 162-game threshold. I remember Pete Rose playing 163 once when I was a kid. That was because of a tie ballgame that got replayed (both games' stats count though the result of the first does not).

There is actually a third scenario that could allow a player to exceed 162 games. That is, if he is traded midseason and because of the respective teams' schedules during his stint with them, he has the ability to play in an extra game or two.

So I looked up all the players with 163 or more games played in a season, with one or more teams. There were 32. . The most regular-season games in a season is 165 by Maury Wills in 1962 when the Dodgers and Giants had a three-game playoff that counted in the regular season (the Giants won). The only way that could be matched today, I believe, if four teams end up tied for a playoff spot or two.

The last to play 164, a feat Matsui and A-Rod can match, was Frank Taveras in 1979. Taveras was traded by the Pirates to the Mets midseason.

The last player to exceed 162 was Matsui himself in 2003, when the Yankees replayed a tie ballgame.

Here's the complete list by most games played and then year:

Maury Wills1962165Los Angeles Dodgers
Frank Taveras1979164 Pirates/Mets
Cesar Tovar1967164Minnesota Twins
Ron Santo1965164Chicago Cubs
Billy Williams1965164Chicago Cubs
Jose Pagan1962164San Francisco Giants
Hideki Matsui2003163New York Yankees
Albert Belle1998163Chicago White Sox
Cal Ripken Jr.1996163Baltimore Orioles
Todd Zeile1996163 Phillies/Orioles
Bobby Bonilla1989163Pittsburgh Pirates
Jose Oquendo1989163St. Louis Cardinals
Tony Fernandez1986163Toronto Blue Jays
Greg Walker1985163Chicago White Sox
Steve Garvey1980163Los Angeles Dodgers
Al Oliver1980163Texas Rangers
Pete Rose1979163Philadelphia Phillies
Jim Rice1978163Boston Red Sox
Willie Montanez1976163 Giants/Braves
Pete Rose1974163Cincinnati Reds
Billy Williams1969163Chicago Cubs
Billy Williams1968163Chicago Cubs
Bill Mazeroski1967163Pittsburgh Pirates
Harmon Killebrew1967163Minnesota Twins
Don Buford1966163Chicago White Sox
Ernie Banks1965163Chicago Cubs
Leo Cardenas1964163Cincinnati Reds
Brooks Robinson1964163Baltimore Orioles
Leon Wagner1964163Cleveland Indians
Tommy Davis1962163Los Angeles Dodgers
Brooks Robinson1961163Baltimore Orioles
Rocky Colavito1961163Detroit Tigers

Now, given the 2003 Matsui season, I thought it might be interesting to investigate how many players have exceeded the total number of games for which their teams had a decision. This also removes our 162-game-centric view. There were 1048 of them. Here are the ones in the last 25 years:

Hideki Matsui2003163New York Yankees162101611
Albert Belle1998163Chicago White Sox16280821
Cal Ripken Jr.1996163Baltimore Orioles16288741
Frank Thomas1995145Chicago White Sox14468761
Bobby Bonilla1989163Pittsburgh Pirates16274881
Jose Oquendo1989163St. Louis Cardinals16286761
Tony Fernandez1986163Toronto Blue Jays16286761
Greg Walker1985163Chicago White Sox16285771
Bill Buckner1981106Chicago Cubs10338653
Ivan DeJesus1981106Chicago Cubs10338653
Doug Flynn1981105New York Mets10341622
Chris Chambliss1981107Atlanta Braves10650561
Keith Hernandez1981103St. Louis Cardinals10259431
Tom Herr1981103St. Louis Cardinals10259431
Omar Moreno1981103Pittsburgh Pirates10246561
Jim Morrison1980162Chicago White Sox16070902
Al Oliver1980163Texas Rangers16176852

Bill Buckner and Ivan DeJesus both played in three tie ballgames evidently in addition to the 160 that "counted" for the Cubs in 1981.

That made we wonder what was the largest number of mulligan games anyone ever played in addition to playing a full season for his team. Here goes:

Jimmy Barrett1904162Detroit Tigers152629010
Ed Konetchy1911158St. Louis Cardinals14975749
Joe Sommer1886139Baltimore Orioles13148838
Nap Lajoie1910159Cleveland Naps15271817
Harry Lyons1890133Rochester Broncos12663637
Ed Konetchy1916158Boston Braves15289636
Tommy Griffith1915160Cincinnati Reds15471836
Heinie Groh1915160Cincinnati Reds15471836
Chief Wilson1913155Pittsburgh Pirates14978716
Rube Ellis1911155St. Louis Cardinals14975746
Jiggs Donahue1907157Chicago White Sox15187646
George Van Haltren1898156New York Giants15077736
Mike Lehane1890140Columbus Solons13479556
Dick Johnston1887127Boston Beaneaters12161606
John Morrill1887127Boston Beaneaters12161606
John Ward1887129New York Giants12368556
Ned Williamson1887127Chicago White Stockings12171506
Jack Manning1886137Baltimore Orioles13148836
Milt Scott1886137Baltimore Orioles13148836

Ten tie ballgames?!? That was before lights after all.

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