So far this season, the Baltimore Orioles have played 125 games. And guess what? Outfielders Adam Jones and Nick Markakis have started every single one of them.
While there's no doubt Jones and Markakis want to be penciled in the lineup card every day, it does raise the question, is too much of a good thing really a good thing for the Orioles' chances of playing deep into the postseason?
Last year, the Orioles ran out of talent when they came up short in the wild card hunt, but they also may have run out of gas. Both Jones and Markakis played in 160 of the team's 162 games, as did first baseman Chris Davis, shortstop J.J. Hardy (159), third baseman Manny Machado (156) and catcher Matt Wieters (148). Machado was on pace to play in all 162 had he not missed the final six games after his gruesome knee injury Sept. 23, 2013 against Tampa Bay.
The Orioles' offseason addition of key bench players, such as David Lough and Delmon Young, seemed to signal Orioles vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette and manager Buck Showalter were taking steps to lessen the load on Baltimore's core players.
But three quarters of the way through the season, that isn't exactly how things have played out. Injuries to Davis, Hardy, Machado and Wieters took the fatigue factor out of the equation for many of the regulars, and also diverted attention away from the fact that Jones and Markakis were still standing every day.
Jones and Markakis have gotten the occasional break from the outfield grind, with Jones serving as the designated hitter three games, and Markakis five, but there's a difference between not playing the field and not playing at all.
While neither player has shown any signs of running out of gas and maybe the occasional game at DH is enough for them to recharge, the old adage of what goes up must come down rings true in performance.
The Orioles have gotten production up and down the lineup this season, buoyed by the addition of outfielder/DH Nelson Cruz and the surprisingly productive quartet of catcher Caleb Joseph, DH Steve Pearce, second baseman Jonathan Schoop and Young. That in and of itself seems like it would have given Showalter the comfort level he needs to give his two key outfielders an occasional rest.
But Showalter knows his players better than anyone, and perhaps the success of these other bats has given Jones and Markakis a mental rest by taking some of the load off their backs.
If the Orioles can sustain their sizeable lead in the AL East during the next two weeks, I wouldn't be surprised to see Showalter give Jones and Markakis a true day off here and there in September.
But one thing is for sure, once the calendar turns to October, Showalter will have those two penciled in the lineup each and every day.