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Does Oakland Really Have More Roster Turnover Than Other Teams?

A common complaint that I hear from casual A's fans is that because the players on the team change so quickly, fans feel like they have no connection to the team or the players. Most people aren't comfortable only "rooting for laundry", especially when it feels like most of the players have only been around for a couple of years at the most. But is this really just an Oakland problem?


The short answer? No. Even with an opening day payroll that ranked third from the bottom in the majors (and dead last in the American League), Oakland is exactly in the middle of the pack of roster turnover.

Some methodology notes and other things below the jump.

  • Not only did Oakland rank 15th out of 30 teams, but the average team tenure among the majors was 3.20. Oakland? 3.20. You can't get any more into the middle of the road than that.
  • To compile the data for this graph, I looked at the 25-man opening day rosters of all 30 teams, and calculated the average of how many years each player had been on the team. Furthermore, I only counted the number of years of each player's current stay with the team. For example, Ken Griffey Jr. got credit for only two years in Seattle—2009 and 2010, not thirteen, because after his first eleven in the 1990s, he left to go to Cincinnati.
  • To reduce the complexity, I didn't worry about service time or rookie status or anything. If the player had one plate appearance or one pitching appearance in a season, it counted.
  • Players who opened the season on the major league Disabled List were not counted, mainly because I couldn't find that information anywhere. USA Today made a list of the 2009 opening day rosters, including players on the DL, but they didn't do the same for 2010, for some reason.
  • Not only did the A's rank far, far higher than I had anticipated, the variance of the A's roster was the sixth highest in the majors. In other words, there was a lot of difference in terms of player tenure on the roster. Yes, Oakland had a lot of young players, but they also had a thirteen-year player (Eric Chavez), an eight-year player (Mark Ellis), and a seven-year player (Justin Duchscherer). The team really wasn't just a bunch of new guys.
  • Compare Oakland to the team with the smallest variance in tenure, San Diego. They only had three five-year players (Adrian Gonzalez, Chris Young, and Tim Stauffer) and two four-year players (Chase Headley and Heath Bell). The other twenty men on the roster all had three years of tenure or less.
  • The player with the largest amount of tenure who was still active in 2010 was Chipper Jones. Seventeen years with the Braves and counting. After Chipper is a four-way tie with 16 years (Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, Tim Wakefield), a two-way tie for 14 years (Todd Helton, Jason Varitek), and one player with 13, Eric Chavez.
  • And just for fun, here are the correlations between team average tenure and some other factors that I thought could be interesting. Figures are Pearson product-moment correlation coefficients, where 0 means that the two variables are completely uncorrelated (there's no statistical relationship between the two), and 1 means that the two are perfectly linearly correlated.