Saturday, January 08, 2011

All-Time Player Ranking Project Part 4

Part 1 & 2

Second Basemen

  1. Eddie Collins - Collins is a slightly controversial selection for first overall, as anyone with only 47 career home runs would be. The top three second baseman are just incredibly close and I'm giving Collins the edge because even with his lack of power he posted a 142 career OPS+.

  1. Joe Morgan - Morgan was just the perfect top of the order hitter; a guy with speed, patience and enough pop to be dangerous. He was the engine that powered the Big Red Machine

  1. Rogers Hornsby - Certainly the best hitter ever to play second base, Hornsby's one dimensional game drops him to third in my eyes when combined with his shorter career.

  1. Napoleon Lajoie - Three of the top four second baseman are pre-WWII players. I do not believe this is a bias in my system; in that era you put an offensive player at second base and a defensive player at third base, at some point those roles reversed and this will be evident when looking at the top ten third basemen.

  1. Jackie Robinson - A difficult player to evaluate for obvious reasons. His game was similar to Morgan's and a good argument could be made that he belongs with the top three. In the end I chose to slot him in at five because we don't know if he would have been one of the best players in baseball from age 22-27, we do know that Lajoie was one of the best players in baseball for 15 years.

  1. Charlie Gehringer - Gehringer's peak can't match up with those ahead of him but he was consistently great, with seven season's of at least a 6.0 WAR.

  1. Rod Carew - As people slowly began to realize that batting average was not the best way to evaluate a player, Carew started tumbling down all-time best player lists. I feel like these people are forgetting his .393 career OBP. He would rate ahead of Gehringer if he was even an average defensive second baseman or had stayed there longer.

  1. Craig Biggio - Bill James received a great deal of criticism for his praise of Biggio and while he was right that Biggio had been seriously overlooked, he probably went a bit overboard. Watching Biggio struggle to get his 3,000th hit, it was easy to forget what a dynamic player he was during his prime.

  1. Frankie Frisch - Frisch showed up just as the lively ball era was taking off but was more the type of player you would see 15 years earlier, boasting a high batting average and mostly doubles power. He routinely had over 600 plate appearances but never had more than 28 strikeouts in a season.

  1. Joe Gordon - Gordon had a very short career, partially due to the war. With seven 20+ home run seasons he was one of the last offensive second baseman before the transition, however he was also one of the best defenders the position has ever seen.

Other players of note: Ryne Sandberg (11), Lou Whitaker (12), Bobby Grich (13), Roberto Alomar (14), Jeff Kent (15). Sandberg, Alomar and Kent I expected to be in the top 10. Sandberg missed because his career is a bit on the short side, his OBP was never that great and he only broke 20 home runs five times. Alomar also was mostly finished as a player after his age-33 season and the new numbers do not look kindly upon his defense. Kent has the opposite problem; he was never more than an average hitter until he turned 30 and was also rough with the glove.

In my opinion you can debate the top three second baseman endlessly and never come to a firm conclusion, but if I was picking a team, this is the order in which I would select them. The majority of these players fell pretty much where I was expecting, with Gordon being the one obvious exception. Joe Gordon was a lot like Chase Utley, an excellent hitter who was also the best defensive second baseman in the game. Utley, by the way, will easily make this list if he puts up solid numbers in 2011 and 2012 but the late start and small injuries will prevent him from ever making the top five.

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