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10 Greatest Second Basemen in Major League Baseball History

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Second base is a surprisingly deep position historically given the reputation it has as a light-hitting spot in the lineup, as well as what is generally considered an easy position to play. For example, shortstops that aren’t athletic enough or don’t have a strong enough arm, are often moved to second.

However, the field is so competitive that there wasn’t enough space on our list of the 10 greatest second basemen to ever play for modern stars like Chase Utley, Alfonso Soriano, Robinson Canó or Jeff Kent. Even Hall of Famers such as Bobby Doerr, Johnny Evers, Nellie Fox, Red Schoendienst, Bill Mazeroski, Frankie Frisch and Jackie Robinson – who, beyond being a star on the field, is arguably the most important player in baseball history because of his bravery in breaking the color barrier – barely missed the cut.

Overcoming incredible odds while suffering unbelievable stress and pressure along the way, Robinson finally broke through at the age of 28, Robinson won the 1947 Rookie of the Year and was named National League MVP in 1949. Robinson hit .311/.409/.474 with 137 home runs, 1,518 hits and 947 runs scored across his 10-year career with the Brooklyn Dodgers, and posted 61.5 career WAR (according to Baseball-Reference.com), which ranks No. 111 all-time among position players. A versatile player that also played first base, third base and outfield, Robinson’s impact on the game goes far beyond the record books and box scores. As a result, he is the only player in MLB history to have his jersey number retired by every big league club.

Nevertheless, there are 10 great second basemen that were talented enough and lucky enough to earn a spot on our list of the best to ever to play the position.

— Rankings by Nicholas Ian Allen, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @NicholasIAllen.

10. Lou Whitaker

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Detroit Tigers, 1977-95
5-time All-Star, 4-time Silver Slugger
3-time Gold Glove recipient
1984 World Series champion
1978 Rookie of the Year
Key stats: .276/.363/.426, 2,369 hits, 1,386 runs, 244 home runs, 1,084 RBIs

The only member of our list that is not currently a member of the Hall of Fame, Whitaker was dropped from the ballot after receiving just 2.9 percent of the vote in 2001. In 19 years with the Tigers, Whitaker was one of the more well-rounded second basemen in baseball, winning multiple Gold Gloves and Silver Slugger awards. Whitaker posted 74.9 career WAR that ranks among the top 50 all-time for position players and No. 7 among those that primarily played second base.

9. Craig Biggio

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Houston Astros, 1988-2007
7-time All-Star, 5-time Silver Slugger
4-time Gold Glove recipient
Key stats: .281/.363/.433, 3,060 hits, 1,844 runs, 291 home runs, 1,175 RBIs, 414 stolen bases
Baseball Hall of Fame, Class of 2015

A catcher at the beginning of his career and an outfielder towards the end, Biggio played 1,989 games at second base and put together his greatest seasons at the position – including a five-year stretch from 1994-98 when he was an All-Star each season, won four Gold Gloves and four Silver Sluggers, and twice finished in the top five of the NL MVP voting. A leadoff hitter much of his career, Biggio got on base the old-fashioned way – he collected 3,060 hits (No. 22 all-time), including 668 doubles (No. 5) and was hit by a pitch 285 times (No. 2), while also drawing 1,160 walks.

(Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

8. Roberto Alomar

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San Diego Padres, 1988-90; Toronto Blue Jays, 1991-95; Baltimore Orioles, 1996-98; Cleveland Indians, 1999-2001; New York Mets, 2002-03; Chicago White Sox, 2003-04; Arizona Diamondbacks, 2004
12-time All-Star; 4-time Silver Slugger
10-time Gold Glove recipient
1992-93 World Series champion (Blue Jays)
Key stats: .300/.371/.443, 2,724 hits, 1,508 runs, 210 home runs, 1,134 RBIs, 474 stolen bases
Baseball Hall of Fame, Class of 2011

A well-traveled Hall of Famer that played for seven big league franchises, Alomar won more Gold Gloves (10) than any second baseman in MLB history. Also a star at the plate and on the base paths, Alomar hit .300 or better eight times, scored more than 100 runs in six seasons, posted a .400 or better on-base percentage five times, and drove in 100 or more runs twice. Alomar also won four Silver Slugger Awards at second base. Only Ryne Sandberg and Robinson Cano have earned more to date.

(Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

7. Rod Carew

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Minnesota Twins, 1967-78; California Angels, 1979-85
18-time All-Star
1967 AL Rookie of the Year
1977 AL MVP
Key stats: .328/.393/.429, 3,053 hits, 1,424 runs, 92 home runs, 1,015 RBIs, 353 stolen bases
Baseball Hall of Fame, Class of 1991

It’s true that Carew actually played more career games at first base (1,184) than he did at second (1,130), and that his 1977 AL MVP-winning season came when he was an everyday first baseman. However, only Ty Cobb won more American League batting titles than the 1967 AL Rookie of the Year, and five of Carew’s seven came when he played second base on a regular basis – including three in which he led all of baseball in batting average. Carew also led the AL in on-base percentage four times (twice as a second baseman), hits three times and posted four 200-hit seasons (twice at second).

6. Ryne Sandberg

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Philadelphia Phillies, 1981, Chicago Cubs, 1982-94; ’95-96
10-time All-Star; 7-time Silver Slugger
9-time Gold Glove recipient
1984 NL MVP
Key stats: .285/.344/.452, 2,386 hits, 1,318 runs, 282 home runs, 1,061 RBIs, 344 stolen bases
Baseball Hall of Fame, Class of 2005

The most decorated second baseman of all-time, Sandberg has won more Silver Slugger Awards (7) than anyone at the position to date, beginning with his 1984 NL MVP-winning campaign in which he hit .314/.367/.520 with 19 home runs, a big-league leading 19 triples, an NL-best 114 runs scored and 84 RBIs. Also skilled with the glove, Sandberg won nine Gold Gloves (second most for a second baseman in history) and holds the record for fielding percentage at second base at .989. His 282 career home runs ranked No. 1 all-time at the position when he retired, but was surpassed by Jeff Kent in 2005.

(Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

5. Charlie Gehringer

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Detroit Tigers, 1924-42
6-time All-Star
1935 World Series champion
1937 AL MVP
Key stats: .320/.404/.480, 2,839 hits, 1,775 runs, 184 home runs, 1,427 RBIs
Baseball Hall of Fame, Class of 1949

Gehringer won the American League MVP Award in 1937 when he led the way by hitting .371 – a career high and his only batting title – and was the runner-up for the MVP in ‘34 after pacing the AL with 214 hits and 135 runs scored. However, Gehringer’s greatest season may have been in 1929, when he led the AL in six offensive categories, including hits (215), runs (131), doubles (45), triples (19) and stolen bases (27). Gehringer also hit .339/.405/.532 that season with 13 home runs and 106 RBIs – the first of seven times he drove in more than 100 runs in a season. In 1936, Gehringer led the AL with 60 doubles, which ranks sixth all-time in a single season. His 1,775 runs scored and 574 career doubles each rank among the top 25 all-time.

4. Joe Morgan

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Astros, 1965-71, ’80; Cincinnati Reds, 1972-79; San Francisco Giants, 1981-82; Philadelphia Phillies, 1983; Oakland Athletics, 1984
10-time All-Star, 1982 Silver Slugger
5-time Gold Glove recipient
1975-76 World Series champion (Reds)
1975-76 NL MVP
Key stats: .271/.392/.427, 2,517 hits, 1,650 runs, 268 home runs, 1,133 RBIs, 689 stolen bases
Baseball Hall of Fame, Class of 1990

Morgan made his MLB debut with the Houston Colt .45’s as a 19-year-old in 1963, and stayed with the organization until 1971. Though he was a two-time All-Star in Houston, and proved to be one of the National League’s most productive second basemen, Morgan didn’t get along with manager Harry Walker, which made him expendable.

Prior to the 1972 season, Morgan was traded to Cincinnati, where he blossomed into a Hall of Fame player and was a key cog in “The Big Red Machine” dynasty. Morgan was an All-Star in each of his eight seasons with the Reds, was named NL MVP twice and took home five Gold Gloves, and helped the club win three league pennants and two World Series.

Adding his final six seasons with four different clubs, Morgan retired with a career WAR of 100.3, which ranks No. 20 all-time among position players. Morgan ranks fifth all-time in walks (1,865), No. 11 in stolen bases (689), and No. 6 in Power/Speed (385.9).

(Photo courtesy of National Baseball Hall of Fame Web site, baseballhall.org)

3. Nap Lajoie

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Philadelphia Phillies, 1896-1900; Philadelphia Athletics, 1901-02, ’15-16; Cleveland Bronchos, 1902; Cleveland Naps, 1902-14
Key stats: .338/.380/.466, 3,243 hits, 1,504 runs, 163 home runs, 1,599 RBIs, 380 stolen bases
Baseball Hall of Fame, Class of 1937

One of the first superstars of the American League, Lajoie won the AL Triple Crown in the league’s first year of existence with a .426 batting average, 14 home runs and 125 RBIs. Arguably the greatest season of Lajoie’s legendary career, he also led baseball in on-base percentage (.463), slugging (.643), hits (232), runs scored (145), doubles (48) and total bases (350) in 1901.

Fighting tooth-and-nail with Ty Cobb for the AL batting title each year, Lajoie led the league in hitting in four other seasons, and paced the way in hits on three more occasions. He also was a five-time league-leader in doubles and topped the junior circuit in slugging percentage twice. Lajoie ranks No. 7 on the all-time list in doubles (657), No. 14 in hits (3,243), No. 19 in batting average (.338) and No. 17 among position players in WAR (107.4).

While Lajoie played 13 seasons for a team named in his honor, there is a blemish on his Hall of Fame career because he often starred for mediocre teams and never made it to the World Series.

2. Eddie Collins

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Philadelphia Athletics, 1906-14, ’27-30; Chicago White Sox, 1915-26
1910-11, ‘13 (A’s), and ’17 (White Sox) World Series champion
1914 AL MVP
Key stats: .333/.424/.429,3,315 hits, 1,821 runs, 47 home runs, 1,300 RBIs, 741 stolen bases
Baseball Hall of Fame, Class of 1939

A young star on the Philadelphia Athletics’ famous “$100,000 Infield,” Collins helped the A’s win three World Series titles and four American League pennants in a five-year period from 1910-14, making the club one of the first dynasties in MLB history. Collins led all of baseball with 81 stolen bases in 1910, which included two games in which he stole a record six bags. He won MVP honors in 1914, led the American League in runs scored three times, and hit .319 or better 15 times in his 25 seasons.

A member of the 1917 Chicago White Sox team that won the World Series, as well as the infamous ‘19 “Black Sox” accused of throwing the Fall Classic, Collins was not one of the eight men banned and played seven more seasons with the club before returning to Philadelphia to end his career.

Collins recorded the most assists ever for a second baseman (7,630), and ranks second all-time in putouts (6,526). He posted 123.9 career WAR that ranks 10th on the all-time list among MLB position players, and No. 13 overall. His 741 career stolen bases still rank eighth in baseball history, and his 3,315 career hits place him just outside of the top 10 (11th).

1. Rogers Hornsby

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St. Louis Cardinals, 1915-26, ‘33; New York Giants, 1927; Boston Braves, 1928; Chicago Cubs, 1929-32; St. Louis Browns, 1933-37
1926 World Series champion (Cardinals)
1925, ‘29 NL MVP
Key stats: .358/.434/.577, 2,930 hits, 1,579 runs, 301 home runs, 1,581 RBIs
Baseball Hall of Fame, Class of 1942

One of the greatest right-handed hitters in the history of the game, Hornsby posted a .358 career batting average that ranks second all-time. A seven-time batting champion, Hornsby led the National League in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage every season from 1920-25. During that time, he also won the NL Triple Crown twice (1922, ’25), led the league in hits, doubles and RBIs four times, and earned the first of his two NL MVPs (1925).

Hornsby helped lead the St. Louis Cardinals to a world championship in 1926 in a dramatic seven-game series with the New York Yankees. He swept the slash categories in 1928, his lone season with the Boston Braves, and was named NL MVP for the second time the following season as a member of the Chicago Cubs after leading the NL in slugging (.679), OPS (1.139) and runs scored (156) while collecting 229 hits, 39 home runs and 149 RBIs.

After spending the final five years of his playing career as a player-manager with the St. Louis Browns, Hornsby was fired and released at the age of 41 with 127.0 career WAR that edges Eddie Collins for the best among second basemen all-time, and ranks ninth among position players and No. 12 overall in MLB history.

(Photo courtesy of National Baseball Hall of Fame Web site, baseballhall.org)