All Time Top Ten: Second Basemen

1. Rogers Hornsby 1915-1947  2259G, 301HR, 1584RBIs, .358BA, 175 OPS+

It’s really a four or five man race for 1st at second base. Ultimately Hornsby’s offensive stats were just too great to ignore, he leaves everyone else in the dust in that regard. Hornsby basically became a part time player after the 1929 season at the age of 33. He went 39/149/.380 that year. But he continued to play part time until 1937 in the majors, and appeared in his last game in the mexican league in 1944 at the age of 48, hitting a game winning grand slam. You could make the argument actually that Hornsby was the greatest hitter of all time, not Ruth, Williams, Bonds, or anyone else. But he didn’t draw as many walks as those guys.

2.  Eddie Collins 1906-1930 2826G, 47HR. 1300 RBIs, .333BA, 142 OPS+

Collins is one of those people who doesn’t immediately come to mind when talking about all time greats, as he more or less posted the same stats year in year out.. Eddie Murray style. Only Collin’s seasons were of the .350 batting average, .440 OBP, 50 SB, best defense in the league variety.

3.  Joe Morgan 1963-1984  2649G, 268HR, 1133 RBIs, .271BA, 132 OPS+

Before there was opinionated announcer Joe Morgan there was the most exciting player in baseball Joe Morgan. The only thing that keeps Morgan from the top spot in this list for me is consistency. From 1972-1976 he was the best player in baseball and posted possibly the greatest five year stretch of any second baseman in history (except maybe Hornsby of course).

4. Napoleon Lajoie  1896-1916 2480G, 82 HR, 1599 RBIs, .338BA, 150 OPS+

Lajoie is the only player to actually have a team named after him, as the Indians were renamed the Naps during his period there. Lajoie drew very, very few walks, so I rank him a little below the players higher up.

5. Jackie Robinson 1947-1956  1382G, 137 HR, 734 RBIs, .311 BA, 132 OPS+

Now normally I would never rank a player this high with so few games played, especially one with only 748 games played at the position. But Robinson gets a HUGE pass of course, not only because of the color line, but also because he was one of the most dynamic, exciting players of the 40’s and 50’s.. which sometimes gets overlooked in all the talk of integration. But I do rank him fifth, mostly because of his limited playing time. After Robinson there’s a huge gap between these top five and the bottom five in the top ten.

6.  Charlie Gehringer 1924-1942 2323G, 184HR, 1427 RBI, .320BA, 124 OPS+

Gehringer was just a solid all around ballplayer for Detroit for a decade and a half. Scored 100 or more runs an amazing 12 times. Only Aaron, Gehrig, Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Rickey Henderson have done it more often.

7. Bobby Grich 1970-1986  2008, 224 HR, 864 RBIs, .266BA, 125 OPS+

I love players like Bobby Grich, who were really outstanding players, had hall of fame level talent.. but just didn’t get the recognition they deserved. And most of the time it’s for the same reason.. they hit for power, but not THAT much power, they drew lots of walks, but nobody paid much attention to that when they played, they hit at or above the league average, but batting averages were generally depressed when they played, and they were among the better fielders in the league, but not THE best. That’s a good description of Grich. Ron Cey is another guy like that who also played in the 70’s .

8.  Roberto Alomar  1988-2004 2379G, 210 HR, 1134 RBIs, .300 BA, 116 OPS+

Alomar made the Hall of Fame in 2011 of course, while Grich will never get in. Where’s the justice? Anyway he gets the nod over Kent for this spot due to superior defense.

9. Jeff Kent 1992-2008 2298G, 377 HR, 1518 RBIs, .290 BA, 123 OPS+

I never really watched Kent much during his career, so I guess I never gained an appreciation of his talents. Mostly that’s because he played with barry Bonds and I avoided having to watch him like the plague. Might rank higher if everyone ahead of him weren’t much better fielders.

10. Craig Biggio 1988-2007 2850G, 291 HR, 1175 RBIs, .281BA, 112 OPS+

Biggio started out his career as a catcher.. after a few years switched to second base, which is unusual for a catcher. After ten years he moved to the outfield, and after two years shagging flies, he moved back to second base to finish his career. Good speed, good batting eye, good power, good glove. Biggio kind of snuck up on me. Seemed like one moment he was a good, but run of the mill player in the early nineties dinking 160 hits or so a year and the next thing I know it’s 2006/2007 and he’s knocking on the door of 3000 hits.

Honorable Mention (and why I didn’t pick them)

Ryne Sandberg – Sandberg was a good hitter, and great fielder.. just not enough of either to crack the top ten.

Lou Whitaker- Much as I would have loved to see Whitaker in the top ten, he just wasn’t productive enough.

Nellie Fox – Fox was just too weak a hitter.

Bill Mazeroski – Mazeroski is considered by many to be the greatest defensive player in the history of baseball. That may be, but he was an absolutely terrible hitter, probably the worst in the hall of fame.

Frankie Frisch – Frisch has always been overrated. It’s due to Frisch we have so many bad hall of fame selections from the Giants and Cardinals of the 1920’s and 30’s. I’d rate him about the 15th best second baseman of all time.

Bid McPhee – somewhat obscure 19th century player. For that reason alone he’s excluded.

Bobby Doerr – Not quite a good enough hitter.

Billy Herman – I sometimes wonder why some players hit as lightly as they do. Herman was 5’11 180lbs which was at least average size if not larger for the day, yet he only hit 47 home runs in his long career.

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