Whitaker and Trammell. Morgan and Concepcion. Tinker and Evers. Maz and Groat.
So often, the 2B and SS are linked together on great teams. Why should they not be? What part of baseball more encompasses teamwork than the ability to turn a double play?
While top defensive pairings are not exactly a dime a dozen, the majors definitely have their fair share of talent at the pivot. Let's take a closer look at the best.
Two good players who together play good baseball.
Not overly impressive with the glove, but efficient enough to get the job done as expected, to go along with their above-average bats.
While offense is not a "non issue" on this list, this is most certainly about defense first.
While Jeter and Cano have both improved, it is a hard sell to call either man more than an average defender, no matter what many experts say.
Jeter's sure-handedness, however, warrants a spot on this list, as good hands have always been his defensive strength.
A new combo, but both men have reputations as very good defenders.
Figgins is still adjusting to his new life as a second baseman, but talent alone (Wilson, career +5.2 UZR/150 at SS, Figgins a +9.6 UZR/150 at 3B) is enough to warrant consideration.
Of course, both men need to contribute more with the bat, or else we might see this combo broken up before it even begins.
The Twins remade their middle infield in a big way during the 2009-10 offseason, trading the expendable Carlos Gomez for JJ Hardy and signing Orlando Hudson in free agency.
Both men have elite defensive reputations (though only Hardy, and his +10.1 UZR/150 at SS warrant it).
Hudson's strength defensively, though, is turning the double play, with a +6.0 mark in his career. It will be interesting to see these two men continue to refine their timing as the season progresses.
After washing out a little as a SS, Hill moved to the other side of the diamond full time starting in 2007, and has shined as the Blue Jays second baseman.
Alex Gonzalez, on the other hand, has shined his entire career at shortstop, providing constantly skilled and efficient talent at the position.
With a +12.4 double play runs average, Gonzalez has shown a well above average ability to turn the double play.
Since this list also has a slight reflection on offense, I struggle with listing these two higher than No. 6. Gonzalez, while hot now, is too streaky for my liking with the bat.
As a pair offensively, this is a definite case of one man (Tulowitzki) carrying the other in Barmes. Where Barmes lacks in his bat, however, he has always made up for with his glove.
Tulowitzki, with a career +3.3 UZR/150, has been equal to the task.
Yet another team in danger of a breakup, as Barmes bat seems to have disappeared on him. A contending Rockies may elect to trade for a better hitting 2B, or put Melvin Mora in at second base.
Pedroia has been possibly the best defensive 2B in the AL since his rookie season, with a +6.8 UZR/150 rating. Scutaro, while not a terrific shortstop, is generally regarded as a decent option at the position.
Due to Pedroia's justified reputation as a top double play turner, in combination with the stability of these two men in the Red Sox lineup, a Top 4 ranking seems in order for these two men.
How can Ben Zobrist be on this list, when he has not received a plurality of his team's innings at second base?
Well, because in a limited sample, Zobrist has been nothing but fantastic at second, with a +30.0 UZR/150. Jason Bartlett is no bad shakes, either, and is a rock with the glove at SS.
It is almost a shame that the Rays are so deep, it would be fun to see Zobrist play second base more often.
I think Joe Maddon would take the "dilemma" of having to play Zobrist in the outfield, though, while getting Sean Rodriguez into the game. Nice pickup for the corpse of Scott Kazmir.
Andrus should have won the 2010 Gold Glove at shortstop. I digress, though, as we all know that is not an award for defense.
What can one say that has not already been said? On one side is Ian Kinsler, one of the top defensive 2B's in MLB.
On the other is Elvis Andrus, the 21-year-old phenom who has the chance to become our generation's Ozzie Smith (or more, given his OBP is .416 so far in 2010). They are a fantastic combo, and a large reason as to why the Rangers are now the team to be in the AL West.
Very similar to the No. 2 duo of Kinsler / Andrus: two upper echelon defenders playing for a contender. Why do Rollins and Utley get the edge?
For one, something must be said about longevity in this list, as these two men have been teammates for years.
Two, offense serves as a respectable "secondary skill" in this list. The duo of Rollins and Utley are better offensively than Andrus and Kinsler.
Chase Utley is at his old antics again, already having a +6.4 UZR in the young 2010. His career UZR/150 of +15.2 puts him in the running as an all-time great defensive player at second base, to go along with his 139 wRC+.
Truly one of the most underrated players of our generation.