MLB Power Rankings: Every Team's Greatest Second Baseman in History
What makes a second baseman great? Is it offense, defense or a combination of the two?
If you take a look at each franchise in baseball, who is the team's greatest second baseman? Was there a clear choice, or did it come down to a decision?
That was my goal; decide who was the greatest second baseman in each franchise's history.
Let's start with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The pickings were slim for the Diamondbacks. The only choices were Orlando Hudson, Junior Spivey, Kelly Johnson or my choice, Jay Bell.
Jay Bell played for five seasons for Arizona and had a .263 batting average, a .355 OBP, a .458 Slugging Percentage, an OPS of .812 and an OPS+ of 104. He also finished thirteenth in the MVP voting in 1999 and made the All-Star game in 1999 as well.
Kelly Johnson may one day surpass Jay Bell, but he's only in his second season with the Diamondbacks so we'll have to see how his career finishes in Arizona.
This choice came down to two players either Marcus Giles or Felix Millan. Giles was significantly better offensively than Millan but Millan was significantly better defensively.
I decided to go with defense and Felix. During Felix's time, defense was the priority at second base and any offense was just gravy while during Giles' time offense was at a premium and while he was decent, he just didn't stand out among other second basemen in the league.
During his seven years with the Braves, Felix won two Gold Gloves and made three All-Star teams.
This choice came down between Bobby Grich, Davey Johnson and Brian Roberts.
I decided to go with Bobby Grich.
He edged the others offensively (OPS+ of 127 while on Baltimore, Johnson had an OPS+ of 110 and Roberts has an OPS+ of 103).
Defensively he won four Gold Gloves in one less year than Johnson won three (Roberts has never won it).
Brian Roberts if he plays entire career with the Orioles will probably surpass Grich.
Boston Red sox
Picking the second baseman for the Red Sox was easy.
The only choice is the Hall of Famer, Bobby Doerr (though Dustin Pedroia has a chance to replace him).
In his 14 years with Boston, Doerr was consistently an All-Star and in the top-25 in MVP voting.
He batted .288, had an OBP of .362, a Slugging Percentage of .461, an OPS of .823 and an OPS+ of 115 (Pedroia so far has an OPS of .817 and an OPS+ of 111 along with a Rookie of the Year and a MVP).
Another choice that was easy to make.
When you think of Cubs and second base, the only name that comes to mind is Ryne Sandberg.
Sandberg is one of the best second basemen in the history of baseball.
Over 15 years in Chicago, he won one MVP, nine Gold Gloves (all in a row), seven Silver Sluggers and went to 10 All-Star games (all in a row).
Chicago White sox
This was a tough choice. Do I choose Nellie Fox or Eddie Collins?
I decided to go with Nellie Fox (mainly because Eddie Collins will appear on this list later).
Nellie Fox was consistently in the top 25 for MVP (winning one) and made the All-Star game 12 times (11 in a row). He also managed to win three Gold Gloves.
Fox was elected to the Hall of Fame by the Veteran's Committee in 1997.
For the White Sox he amassed 2,470 hits and a .291 batting average.
Another easy choice to make (love when it's easy!).
I have Joe Morgan ranked as the second-best second baseman ever.
Morgan's best years of his career came for Cincinnati. He won back-to-back MVPs, five Gold Gloves (in a row) and went to eight All-Star games (all in a row).
Morgan was also one of the best base-stealers in the game. During his time on the Reds, he stole 406 bases while only getting caught 84 times for an amazing 82.8 percent success rate.
Another easy choice to make.
I have Nap Lajoie ranked third all-time among second basemen.
Lajoie only hit 33 home runs for the Indians but he still managed to have an OPS+ of 155. This was due to a .388 OBP and a .452 Slugging Percentage resulting in an .840 OPS along with a batting average of .339.
The pickings were very slim for the Rockies.
The only choice was Eric Young.
In five seasons for the Rockies, Young batted .295 with a .378 OBP, a .412 Slugging Percentage, an OPS of .790 and an OPS+ of 93. He also stole 180 bases.
There were two possibilities for this choice, though the competition wasn't close. The choices were either Lou Whitaker or Charlie Gehringer.
Whitaker was an underrated player, but he doesn't come close to Gehringer.
Gehringer, in 19 seasons with the Tigers, won an MVP (and was in the top 10 for voting six other times), had 2,839 hits, batted .320, had an OBP of .404, a Slugging Percentage of .480, an OPS of .884 and an OPS+ of 124.
This was a tough choice.
You have the slap-hitting, Golden Glove winner in Luis Castillo or the power-hitting Dan Uggla.
While Uggla has more home runs and a better OPS+ than Castillo, I had to go with the defense and the five more years that Castillo brought the Marlins.
When you think Houston Astros, one of the first names that comes to mind is Craig Biggio.
Biggio was a catcher, a center fielder and a second baseman for the Astros. Over his 20 seasons in Houston, he had 3,060 hits, 414 stolen bases, won four Gold Gloves and five Silver Sluggers.
Biggio was also named to seven All-Star games.
Biggio will also one day be able to call himself Hall of Famer.
Kansas City Royals
There was only choice for the Royals, Frank White.
Frank White wasn't going to give you much offensively (his OPS+ was 85), but what he was going to bring was an above-average glove defensively.
White won eight Gold Gloves in 18 seasons. He also did manage to win one Silver Slugger and was named to five All-Star teams.
Los Angeles Angels
This is Bobby Grich's second appearance in this list (the only player to do so; his first appearance was for the Orioles).
For the Angels, Grich brought his above-average glove that he had in Baltimore, although he didn't win any Gold Gloves for the Angels.
He made the All-Star game three times, won a Silver Slugger and was twice voted in the top 15 for MVP.
In 1981 Bobby led the league with 22 home runs, a .543 Slugging Percentage and an OPS+ of 164.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Was there ever doubt that the Dodgers' best second baseman would be Jackie Robinson?
Even though his career only lasted 10 seasons, what Jackie meant to the Dodgers and to baseball cannot be described in a mere slide, but I'll try.
On the field, Jackie won the Rookie of the Year, an MVP, was a six-time All-Star and finished his career with a .311 batting average, an OBP of .409, a Slugging Percentage of .474, an OPS of .883 and an OPS+ of 131.
Off the field, Jackie ended segregation in baseball and became in icon in the Civil Rights movement. This of course is what Jackie is most famous for and why his number has been retired by all of baseball.
There was basically two choices: Rickie Weeks or Jim Gantner.
Gantner wasn't flashy, never won any awards or didn't hit for power. All he did for his entire 17 years was anchor the Brewers' infield along with other Brewers's greats like Cecil Cooper, Robin Yount and Paul Molitor.
Rickie Weeks should surpass Gantner provided he continues to live up to his potential.
Another easy choice to make.
Over his 12 years playing in Minnesota, Carew led the league in batting average seven times, hits three times, triples twice, OBP four times, and he won the Rookie of the Year and a MVP.
He was also named to the All-Star game all 12 seasons he was on the Twins.
Carew's batting line for his time on the Twins was fantastic. He had a .334 batting average, a .393 OBP, a .448 Slugging Percentage, an OPS of .841 and an OPS+ of 137.
New York Mets
Second base in Mets history is a weak position.
Edgardo Alfonzo may have played more games for his Mets career at third base, but it was at second base that he had his best seasons.
Alfonzo was above average on defense, but in 1999 and 2000, he was one of the best hitting second basemen in the league. He won the Silver Slugger in 1999, finished eighth in MVP voting in 1999 and 15th in MVP voting in 2000.
New York Yankees
There were several options at second base for the New York Yankees. They have two Hall of Famers, Tony Lazzeri and Joe Gordon, and Robinson Cano may be on his way.
I decided to go with Tony Lazzeri. Over his 12 years for the Yankees, Lazzeri batted .293, with an OBP of .379, a Slugging Percentage of .467, an OPS of .847 and an OPS+ of 120. He also finished in the top 15 for MVP voting five times, including a third place finish in 1928.
Robinson Cano may one day supplant Lazzeri provided he can continue to duplicate his 2009 and 2010 seasons.
An easy choice to make.
Eddie Collins is one of the best second basemen the game's ever seen.
I could have easily used Collins for the Athletics and the White Sox. I decided to use him just for the Athletics (for two reasons—his best years came on the Philadelphia Athletics and so I could use Nellie Fox for the White Sox).
For his 13 seasons on the Athletics, Collins won one MVP and finished second twice, third twice, fifth once and sixth once.
He also batted .337, with an OBP of .423, a Slugging Percentage of .437, an OPS of .860 and an OPS+ of 156.
This was a very easy decision to make.
Chase Utley is not only one of the best second baseman in the game today (when healthy) but is easily the best second basemen the Phillies have ever had.
In his nine seasons so far in Philadelphia, Chase has finished in the top 15 for MVP voting five times, won four Silver Sluggers and made the All-Star game five times.
Provided Chase can overcome the injuries that have plagued him the last two seasons, Chase has a chance to be considered a top-10 second baseman of all time.
A very easy decision to make for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Bill Mazeroski was known for two things; a fantastic glove at second base and the walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning in Game 7 of the 1960 World Series against the New York Yankees.
Anything the Pirates could get from Mazeroski at the plate was simply gravy (his career OPS+ was 84). However, it was his eight-time Gold Glove winning defense they counted on.
Maz is one of the best defensive second basemen in the game's history.
San Diego Padres
The pickings were slim at this position for the San Diego Padres.
Mark Loretta only played three seasons for the Padres, but they were a productive three seasons.
In those three years, Loretta won a Silver Slugger, made the All-Star game twice and finished ninth in the MVP voting.
He also batted .314 with an OBP of .377, a Slugging Percentage of .438, an OPS of .815 and an OPS+ of 121.
San Francisco Giants
Jeff Kent was one of the best second basemen in the game during his time on the San Francisco Giants.
In his six years on the Giants, he won an MVP, three Silver Sluggers and was named to three All-Star games.
He also batted .297 with an OBP .368, a Slugging Percentage of .535, an OPS of .903 and an OPS+ of 136.
Kent is a borderline Hall of Famer, though I do believe he gets in.
Brett Boone played for the Mariners for seven seasons. Even though he has been associated with PEDs, he was one of the best second basemen in the game during that time.
Boone balanced above-average defense (three Gold Gloves) with offense (two Silver Sluggers).
On the Mariners, Boone batted .277 with an OBP of .336, a Slugging Percentage of .478, an OPS of .814 and an OPS+ of 116.
St. Louis Cardinals
The easiest decision to make in this list was picking Rogers Hornsby for the Cardinals.
Hornsby was simply the best second baseman ever to play and is a top-10 player all-time.
If you look at Hornsby's Baseball Reference player's page, all you'll see is black ink.
Hornsby won an MVP, a National League batting Triple Crown and an MLB batting Triple Crown.
For his time in St. Louis, Hornsby batted .359, had an OBP of .427, a Slugging Percentage of .568, an OPS of .995 and an OPS+ of 177.
Tampa Bay Rays
Ben Zobrist has played his entire short career for the Tampa Bay Rays and has played multiple positions.
During those six seasons (including 2011 so far), he has been elected to one All-Star game and finished eighth in the MVP voting.
He has batted .252, with an OBP of .344, a Slugging Percentage of .428, an OPS of .771 and an OPS+ of 108.
This was actually a tough decision. There are three players to choose from: Julio Franco, Ian Kinsler or Michael Young.
Even though Michael Young has been one of the best Texas Rangers since he entered the league, he only spent four seasons primarily as a second baseman.
Julio Franco won Silver Sluggers as a second baseman but spent a lot of time as the designated hitter.
So, I decided to go with Ian Kinsler.
In his six seasons so far with the Rangers, Kinsler has made the All-Star game twice, batted .278, has an OBP of .356, a Slugging Percentage of .463, an OPS of .819 and an OPS+ of 113.
Toronto Blue Jays
When I think of the Blue Jays I immediately think of Roberto Alomar.
Alomar is one of the best overall second basemen in the game's history. He is the best second basemen I ever saw.
Roberto played for many teams over his career but spent the most seasons on the Blue Jays (five). In those five seasons, Roberto won five Gold Gloves, went to five All-Star games, won one Silver Slugger and finished sixth in the MVP voting three times.
During those five years he batted .307 with an OBP of .382, a Slugging Percentage of .451, an OPS of .833 and an OPS+ of 123.
Roberto will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame this July.
Jose Vidro is the best second baseman in the history of the Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals.
During Vidro's 10 seasons for the Expos/Nationals, he won one Silver Slugger and made three All-Star games.
He batted .301 with an OBP of .363, a Slugging Percentage of .459, an OPS of .821 and an OPS+ of 111.
So, what do you think? Did I pick the right players for each team, or do you think there was someone better? Please feel free to comment below and be sure to fully explain why your choice is better than mine!