Roberto Alomar and the 15 Best Second Basemen of All Time

Dan PopoloskiContributor IIISeptember 10, 2011

Roberto Alomar and the 15 Best Second Basemen of All Time

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    There have been many stand-out second baseman over the course of MLB history. An important position, the second baseman is key in turning double plays and tagging-out base stealers.

    While there have been a ton of fantastic fielders at second base, hitting ability is a different story for the position. There are a lot of second basemen that have high hit totals and good averages, but only a select few have shown good power, and even less showed great power.

    In fact, power is so rare in this position that the highest home run total by a second baseman is 351, held by Jeff Kent—certainly one of the greatest second basemen of all time.

    Here is a ranking the top 15 players of this vital position.

Honorable Mentions

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Honorable mention goes out to:

    Bill Mazeroski, Nellie Fox, Bid McPhee, Willie Randolph, Larry Doyle, Chuck Knoblauch, Del Pratt, Bobby Grich, Marty McManus, Buddy Myer, Cupid Childs, Red Schoendienst, Robinson Cano and Danny Murphy.

    If you're looking for Rod Carew, I classified him as a first basemen since he actually played more games at that position.

15. Tony Lazzeri

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    Part of the legendary Yankees lineup, "Murderer's Row," Tony Lazzeri offered a good batting average while also hitting with respectable power for his era.

    Over his 14-year career, "Push 'em up Tony" had a respectable .292 batting average, with 178 home runs. He won five World Series rings with the Yankees and probably would have won at least one MVP award if it weren't for Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig blocking his path.

    Voted into the Hall of Fame by the Veteran's Committee, I don't think Lazzeri truly deserved his Hall of Fame selection, and was chosen more for his teammates than for himself.

14. Bobby Doerr

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    Another person who I don't believe deserves their status as a Hall of Famer is Bobby Doerr.

    Despite that fact, he did have a solid career as an all-around second baseman—posting a respectable career batting average of .288 while hitting 223 home runs, along with a quality career .980 fielding percentage.

    Playing entirely with the Boston Red Sox during his 14-year career, Doerr never won a World Series ring, but placed in the Top 10 in the league for homers seven times. Unfortunately, he missed a year due to war, which would have been one of his peak years, and he could have easily won his only MVP award for that season.

13. Billy Herman

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    Another Veteran's Committee Hall of Famer, Billy Herman gathered a solid career over 15 years, accumulating 2,345 hits, a .407 slugging percentage and a great .304 batting average.

    Those are pretty good numbers and could have been even better, had he not missed two years due to the war.

    Despite that fact, I still don't think Herman deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, especially with a poor .967 fielding percentage. He was a good player, but not great.

12. Joe Gordon

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    Recently inducted into the Hall of Fame, Joe Gordon was one of the most-powerful second basemen in history.

    Knocking 253 home runs in only 11 seasons, Gordon hit more home runs in the American League than any other second basemen in history. He could have gone even further, had he not missed two of his prime seasons due to the war.

    Gordon won five World Series—four with the Yankees and one with the Indians. His best year came in 1942, when he hit .322, had 18 homers and knocked in 103 runs while on track to his only MVP award.

11. Frankie Frisch

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    The first player on this list to be elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writer's Association, Frank Frisch was a great hitter over the course of his 19 seasons in baseball, finishing with a great .316 batting average.

    To make up for his low home run number, Frisch was always able to come up with stolen bases and clutch hits. His career-hit tally came up 2,880, only 120 away from the hallowed 3,000-hit mark.

    His best season wasn't actually his MVP-award season, but his 1923 season with the New York Giants, when he rang up 223 hits, 111 RBI and a whopping .348 batting average. In addition, he won four of the eight World Series in which he appeared.

10. Roberto Alomar

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    Roberto Alomar was only recently inducted into the Hall of Fame, and definitely deserved the honor.

    He finished his 17-season career with a .300 batting average, 210 home runs, 1,508 runs scored, and 1,134 RBIs.

    Also regarded as the best fielding second baseman of his era, Alomar won 10 Gold Gloves while posting a career .984 fielding percentage. His best season came in 1999 with Cleveland, when he hit .323, 24 home runs, 120 RBIs, and scored 138 runs.

    Alomar also won two World Series rings with the Toronto Blue Jays, in 1992 and '93. In retrospect, I feel bad for placing him this far down on the list.

9. Joe Morgan

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    Joe Morgan could be seen as one of the most overrated players in the history of the game. While he did have a decent career and deserves his Hall of Fame status, Morgan doesn't deserve the fame and glory he receives.

    Morgan played in 22 seasons and clocked only 2,517 hits, 1,133 RBIs and 1,650 runs scored, not to mention his not-so-great .271 batting average. All impressive numbers, but not deserving of the praise he gets. 

    He was only an average fielder as well, posting a mere .981 fielding percentage. While his 268 home runs are pretty for a second baseman, almost all of his numbers are identical to average-outfielder Garret Anderson—not very impressive. 

    The Reds rosters he played on were very good, and Morgan was a fantastic base stealer, swiping 689 bases in his career. However, other than his two World Series rings and two undeserved MVP awards, nothing really jumps off the page as "best second baseman ever," an honor that Morgan sometimes receives.

8. Craig Biggio

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    The first player on this list not eligible for the Hall of Fame, Craig Biggio was a strong fighter during his 20-season career in the major leagues.

    A testament to his strength and durability, Bigigo was the only major league player ever to be an All-Star at both catcher and second base. He also set the modern record for hits by pitches with 285.

    Biggio also had a solid .281 batting average, accumulating 3,060 hits, 1,844 runs scored and 1,175 RBIs. He won four Gold Gloves and Silver Sluggers, and will no doubt be a first-ballot Hall of Famer when be becomes eligible in 2013.

7. Ryne Sandberg

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    Ryne Sandberg is probably the best-fielding second baseman to ever play the game—not to mention being able to hit for both respectable power and a solid average.

    Over his 16-year career, "Ryno" hit a respectable .285 while driving in 1,061 runs, scoring 1,318 runs and knocking 282 homers.

    He leads all second basemen in Silver Sluggers, with seven, and places second in Gold Gloves, with nine. His best season came in 1990, when he hit 40 home runs, 100 RBIs, and scored 116 runs—all while posting a strong .306 batting average.

6. Jackie Robinson

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    Jackie Robinson was a true baseball and civil-rights pioneer, breaking the invisible color barrier and becoming the first black player in the majors since the 19th century.

    But not only did he open up the game to African-Americans and other minorities, Robinson played pretty great baseball, too.

    In his 10 quick seasons, Robinson posted a great .311 batting average, a .409 on-base percentage, and a great 197 steals. He also won the inaugural Rookie of the Year Award in 1947, along with the MVP award two years later.

    In fact, Robinson was so loyal to his Dodgers, that when traded to the crosstown-rival New York Giants, he refused to report to his new team and abruptly retired from the sport.

5. Jeff Kent

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    He may have been disliked by fans and teammates alike while being a pretty bad fielder, but Jeff Kent was truly one of the greatest power hitters of his position.

    In 17 seasons, Kent laced 2,461 hits, giving him a respectable .290 batting average. However, the big stat for Kent is in home runs: He leads all second basemen in home runs with 351, not to mention his 1,320 runs scored, as well as his 1,518 RBIs.

    While Kent may have been a terrible and ungrateful person, that does not take away from the fact that he is one of the greatest second basemen in history, and will definitely enter the Hall of Fame when he's eligible.

4. Charlie Gehringer

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    Charlie Gehringer, also known as "The Mechanical Man," was one of the purest hitters in baseball history.

    He had a fantastic career batting average of .320, due to his staggering 2,839 hits. Although he didn't have great power smacking 574 doubles and 184 home runs while scoring 1,774 runs and 1,427 RBIs, the stats are still incredible for someone who only played in 16 full seasons.

    Gehringer won one World Series title with the Tigers in 1935, and posted his best season in 1934, when he scored 134 runs, drove in 127, hit 50 doubles—all while putting up a fantastic .356 batting average.

3. Eddie Collins

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    Eddie Collins, a 25-season veteran, was another fantastic hitter.

    He accumulated 3,315 hits (which is good enough for 10th all-time),stole 741 bases (8th all-time), while posting an amazing .333 average—placing him 26th-best for those who qualify.

    Besides those stats, Collins also drove in 1,300 runs while scoring 1,821. He is also the record holder for the most sacrifice hits, with 512.

    Collins won the 1914 MVP Award and four World Series rings during his illustrious career.

2. Nap Lajoie

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    Nap Lajoie did nothing but hit during his 21-year career.

    He had a dazzling career batting average of .338 from gathering 3,242 hits. Lajoie also hit with respectable power for his era, hitting 82 home runs with 657 doubles, while racking up 1,599 RBIs and scoring 1,504 runs—all amazing numbers.

    His best year definitely came in 1901, when he hit .426, with 14 home runs, 125 RBIs, 145 runs and an awesome 1.106 OPS on his way to winning the Triple Crown.

    Not well-known by modern standards, Nap Lajoie is certainly one of the more underrated players in history.

1. Rogers Hornsby

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    Definitely the best second baseman of all time and one of the top 10 players of all time as well, Rogers Hornbsy was, for lack of a better word, amazing.

    He was the National League's equivalent of Babe Ruth in the 1920s and '30s. It was ridiculous how well he played the game.

    He won two Triple Crowns, two MVPs, finished with the second-best batting average of all time, with .358 from getting 2,930 hits. Add Hornsby's great power to that, as he hit 301 home runs, 1,584 RBIs, 1,579 runs scored and 541 doubles.

    He was so dominant in his hitting, that he had a five-year stretch in which he led the league in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. Achieving all of this in only 18 full seasons, his abilities on the baseball field can often be seen as inhuman.

    Rogers Hornsby is undoubtedly the greatest second baseman to ever play the game of baseball.