Before playing first base on Sunday, Cards veteran had more than 1,600 games in left
By Andrew Simon
When the Rockies selected Matt Holliday in the seventh round of the 1998 Draft, the Oklahoma high school product was listed as a third baseman. In fact, Holliday played only at the hot corner over his first three seasons in the Colorado farm system.
It wasn't until 2001 that Holliday shifted to the outfield, but it's fair to say the transition stuck. From his big league debut for the Rockies in '04 through the end of last season with the Cardinals, the seven-time All-Star did not spend a single inning at a spot other than left field, a stretch that spanned 1,614 games. However, that changed on Sunday afternoon, when Holliday stepped in as St. Louis' Opening Day first baseman against Pirates left-hander Francisco Liriano at PNC Park. (Holliday's debut was short-lived, as he moved to left field in the second inning when Tommy Pham had to leave the game with an injury.)
Nonetheless, Holliday lost his status as the active non-catcher with the most career games at one -- and only one -- spot in the field. The all-time leader is Derek Jeter (naturally), who played 2,674 games at shortstop.
Here is a look at the top 10 active players in that category, plus some near misses. (All stats are for the regular season only, through the end of 2015, and we are not counting designated hitter as a fielding position.)
2. Ryan Howard 1,394 games at 1B
Not only has Howard only manned first for the Phillies, but the same is true of his time in the Minor Leagues. That goes back to the 48 games he played for the Class A Batavia Muckdogs in 2001.
3. J.J. Hardy 1,358 games at SS
A three-time Gold Glove Award winner, Hardy has started more games at short since 2007 than any player besides Jimmy Rollins.
4. Prince Fielder 1,315 games at 1B
Fielder has logged 174 games as a DH but otherwise has only been penciled into a lineup at first. One might think his father would be in the same club, but Cecil Fielder actually played 9 2/3 innings at third base, 5 1/3 at second and three in left field over his 13-year career.
5. Troy Tulowitzki 1,072 games at SS
The five-time All-Star has endured some difficulties in terms of staying on the field, averaging 98 games over the past four seasons, but when he has played, it's always been at short.
6. Kurt Suzuki 1,053 games at C
He caught in 249 games across the 2014 and 2015 seasons. Only Salvador Perez had more games behind the plate in that span.
7. Elvis Andrus 1,052 games at SS
Andrus, who debuted at age 20 in 2009, already owns the Rangers record for games at the position, by more than 250 over Michael Young.
8. Andrew McCutchen 1,024 games at CF
'Cutch has spent each of his 8,999 1/3 defensive innings in center and leads the Majors in games there since 2010. He has 264 more than any other National League player over that span.
9. Miguel Montero 946 games at C
He was behind the dish for 625 games from 2011 through 2015, second only to Yadier Molina (who has moonlighted at first base) among NL catchers.
10. Dioner Navarro 801 games at C
The 32-year-old has spent at least one game donning the tools of ignorance for six teams. Here they are in order of most games to least: Rays, Dodgers, Blue Jays, Cubs, Reds, Yankees.
Several big-name players would have made this list, if not for a brief stint at another position. How brief? Rollins has spent 2,193 games at shortstop (eighth-most since 1913) but two at-bats at second base. On Aug. 5, 2002, at old Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia, he shifted from short to second to begin the ninth inning against the Dodgers, then shifted back later in the frame.
One of the two men to bat with Rollins at second was Beltre, who has played more games (2,483) at third since 1913 than anyone except for Brooks Robinson. But Beltre also has logged 14 innings at shortstop, starting once, plus one inning at second.
Meanwhile, Ian Desmond is an outfielder for the Rangers this year but previously had not played anything besides shortstop since 2010. He enters 2016 with 913 games at short, five at second and two (totaling 7 1/3 innings) in right field.
Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.