The La Russa Heartbreakometer
Rubby De La Rosa
|Ender Inciarte - RF||Dexter Fowler - CF|
|A.J. Pollock - CF||Austin Jackson - RF|
|Paul Goldschmidt - 1B||Chris Coghlan - LF|
|David Peralta - LF||Anthony Rizzo - 1B|
|Welington Castillo - C||Kris Bryant - 3B|
|Jake Lamb - 3B||Miguel Montero - C|
|Chris Owings - 2B||Javier Baez - 2B|
|Nick Ahmed - SS||Kyle Hendricks - RHP|
|Rubby De La Rosa - RHP||Addison Russell - SS|
20 years ago today, Cal Ripken broke Lou Gehrig's consecutive games streak, playing in his 2,131 contest in a row for the Baltimore Orioles, and would keep going for another three full seasons plus, reaching 2,632.. To put that into context, only one player in the two decades since has even reached one-quarter of the way to challenging Ripken's mark: Miguel Tejada, who played 1,152 games in a row from 2000-07. The next-best beyond that? 547 games. The longest currently-active streak? 135 games by Manny Machado, so we know Ripken's mark is safe through at least the end of 2030. By a Diamondbacks? I think it's Ender Inciarte's 33 games.
A bit like the decline in complete games for pitchers, I think modern managerial tactics make it a lot tougher for such a run, with teams inclined to enforce a day off, well before a streak starts to become A Thing. As recently as 2005, we had ten players who appeared in all 162 games, but there have not been more than four since 2007, and this season, Machado is the only player who still has a shot. If he misses out over the final four weeks of play, it will become the first time since the schedule expanded to 162 games that there won't be a single-season "iron man" in the majors.
Putting together a streak requires a lot of ingredients. Good health is obviously paramount, which is a mix of prop work and luck, in avoiding incidents like the one which ended Goldie's streak last year. Performance is also key, and you need to be equally good against left- and right-handed pitchers, so your manager won't feel the urge to platoon you. Being a decent pinch-hitter will help, so even if you're not in the starting line-up, you can still come into the game later on, and if you're good defensively, that also improves your chances of making it in. But doing so every day for more than 16 years? That's staggering, and Ripken's mark may be among those records never broken.