In November the Diamondbacks DFA’d Sergio Alcantara, who is now a free agent. I noticed that he played for 4 teams and had more than 500 career PAs.
In 2022 there were 95 batters who in their careers played on 4-or-more teams and had at least 500 career PAs. Let’s look at their characteristics.
Were they older than average?
The average age of all players in the Majors ranged from 26.4 for the Guardians to 30.7 for the Mets. The Diamondbacks average age was 28.6 per Statistica data released in July 2022.
For three age groups, let’s compare players with 4-or-more-teams (and at least 500 career PAs) to all players in that age group (data from Baseball Savant).
- 2.5% of players age <30 are 4-or-more-teams players.
- 32.8% of players ages 30 to 34 are 4-or-more-teams players.
- 35.9% of players age >34 are 4-or-more-teams players.
The very low percentage under 30 years old and the higher percentages for older groups shows that they were certainly older than average.
It’s rare for players less than 30 years old to have played for 4-or-more teams. Perhaps team control of players combined with MLB’s standard salary (plus the new bonuses for top performers) reduced the number of younger players that changed teams.
Do players change teams more often after their debut? Possibly after their debut their true skills become clear to other teams which reduces the risk involved in acquisitions. The following graph shows ages when position players made their MLB debuts.
It’s possible that better players (as evidenced by continuing to play in the Majors when they get older) change teams due to competitive bidding between teams.
Did they have longer than average careers?
For players with 4-or-more-teams, with at least 500 career PAs, and who were active in 2022, the number of years since their debut is shown in the following graph.
The graph shows their median seasons in the Majors was 10 seasons. At first glance that is a lot longer than the median time in the Majors of roughly 3 years. However, the strength of that conclusion is lessened because some players with 4-or-more-teams are not included because they ended their careers before 2022.
Were they above average in career defense and/or batting?
The 95 players with 4-or-more-teams (and at least 500 career PAs) were grouped as follows:
- 7 stars: career OPS+>100 and career dWAR > 0.
- 24 bat first: career OPS+>100.
- 39 glove first: career dWAR > 0.
- 25 the others.
My conclusion is that most of the 4-or-more teams players were either strong defenders or strong batters (data from Baseball Savant).
How many positions did they play in the Majors?
Caveat on methodology. Although my Baseball Savant searches of batters extracted almost entirely position players, nevertheless it listed a few pitchers: Greinke, Scherzer and Cueto. Those pitchers are awesome, so I left them in the results.
The vast majority of players with 4-or-more-teams had played 3 or more positions during their careers. The notable exceptions (with one position only) were the 3 pitchers, and two first basemen – Daniel Vogelbach and CJ Cron.
How many defended shortstop or center field?
Teams often fill shortstop and center field positions with highly skilled defenders. Of the 95 players with 4-or-more-teams, 35 had played shortstop (as one of their multiple positions played), and 40 had played center field (as one of their multiple positions played). It’s likely that shortstops and center fielders change teams more often than other positions.
All 7 of the stars (with 4-or-more-teams, OPS+>100, and dWAR>0) had played shortstop or center field. And 36 of the 39 glove first players (with 4-or-more teams) had played shortstop or center field.
My conclusion is that shortstops and center fielders, although they may change positions, have longer careers than average.
Three Diamondbacks were on the list.
In 2022, the list of players with 4-teams-or-more (and at least 500 career PAs) included Sergio Alcantara and Jordan Luplow. Interestingly, the Diamondbacks DFA’s both players on 18 November.
Sergio Alcantara was the youngest of the 95 players on the list. Players on the list tend to have long careers in the Majors. Likely he will continue to play in the Majors for many years.
Sergio Alcantara had played shortstop and was a glove first player (based on positive 0.2 career dWAR). In 2022, he hit much better with the Diamondbacks than the Padres (OPS+ of 94 vs negative 18).
Amazingly, Jordan Luplow had played seven of the nine defensive positions (all except catcher and shortstop). His career OPS+ was 101.
In 2022, the list included Matt Davidson, who played in the Majors for the Diamondbacks. His 2 weeks included a homer and 3 walks in 13 PAs. The Diamondbacks DFA’d him on 2 May, and later he played for the Athletics. In 2022, he hit much better with the Diamondbacks than the Athletics (OPS+ of 100 vs 31).
The Diamondbacks drafted Matt Davidson in the first round of the 2009 draft. At the end of his debut season (2013) he was traded to the White Sox for pitcher Addison Reed. Nine seasons later (2022) Matt Davidson returned to the Diamondbacks as a free agent.
Players with 4-or-more-teams are nearly always age 30 or older. Their median time in the Majors was 10 seasons, which is longer than average. Although over their careers they played several positions, the majority included either shortstop or center field.
In 2022, three Diamondbacks played for 4 or more teams, with 500 career PAs.
- Sergio Alcantara stood out as the youngest of 95 players.
- Jordan Luplow stood out as having played 7 positions in the field.
- Matt Davidson stood out as a first round draft pick who returned to the Diamondbacks nine seasons after being traded to another team.