Robin Ventura

This very good post from Amazin' Avenue and some general thinking about the Hall of Fame has me concerned that, quite honestly, Robin Ventura's utter failure to register any real consideration this year (7 votes total, not even remotely enough to see another year on the ballot) might be a much bigger travesty than anyone seems to think.

The main reason, of course, is that the current standard for third basemen is almost insanely high, as has been documented. If you exclude Pie Traynor and George Kell and Freddie Lindstrom, three Jim Rice-esque poor choices, the current cutoff sits somewhere around Hall inductee Jimmy Collins, right about here:

Jimmy Collins: 58.5 career WARP3 (Baseball Prospectus), 52.9 career WAR (Baseballprojection.com), best 3 WARP3 8.0, 7.2, 6.5 (21.7 total), best 3 WAR 7.4, 7.1, 6.5 (21.0 total).

Career translated stats (for fair comparison): .279, .337, .455, 108 SB/54 CS, about 7-8 Gold Glove-caliber seasons.

Collins probably belongs; after all, the cutoff for 3B has been too low because of the notion that good hitters in the LF/RF/1B can play third (not true) and the notion that it's a less valuable defensive position than short or second (certainly not true about second).

Also, Collins' career WAR total makes him the 148th best position player of all time, and his peak was higher than many individuals on that list. His total has him hanging around with these individuals, none inner-circle types but all worthy of consideration especially when you account for defense (HOF and HOM mean Hall of Fame and Hall of Merit, respectively). Collins was right about as good as Enos Slaughter, Bill Dickey, Joe Gordon, and fellow 3B Stan Hack. Jimmy Collins: not a HoF travesty, pretty valid minimum standard for 3B. A guy with his career value and a decent peak tends to get into the Hall.

141 Joe Gordon 54.919381950HOFHOM
142 Stan Hack 54.819321947
143 Carlos Beltran 54.619982009

144 Bill Dickey 54.319281946HOFHOM
145 Enos Slaughter 54.119381959HOFHOM
146 Jim O'Rourke 53.918721904HOFHOM
147 Bob Johnson 53.419331945

148 Jimmy Collins 52.918951908HOFHOM
149 Norm Cash 52.919581974

150 Minnie Minoso 52.719491980
151 Jason Giambi 52.719952009

Robin Ventura was better.


Career WARP3 66.4, career WAR 55.1 (139th), top 3 WARP3 8.6, 7.8, 7.5 (23.9 total), top 3 WAR 6.7, 6.1, 5.8 (18.6 total).

He was worse than Collins only at their utter peak, and only then by WAR. Ventura too had many Gold Glove-caliber seasons (including two utterly insane years of 20+ defensive wins, by both metrics, in 1998 and 1999). His translated line: .280/.373/.472.

The best thing about allowing Ventura into the Hall would be finally fixing the issues surrounding third basemen. WAR and WARP3 heavily deviate on other 3Bs like Sal Bando, Buddy Bell, and Graig Nettles; both agree that Dick Allen, Darrell Evans, and Ron Santo are getting totally screwed.

Point is, look. There have been a lot of 3B not admitted to the Hall who deserve it. Ventura was one of the top few in the league over the course of his career (for the latter half he trailed the brilliant Scott Rolen, whose career one can only hope voters notice better than Ventura's despite similarly bad counting stats, and the great Chipper Jones, whose value will be easier to appreciate because it came from hitting and not defense). Ventura's also a near-perfect cutoff point for discussions; he bifurcates that group of 6 unadmitted 3B depending on which metrics you use, and it wouldn't be a travesty for all *6* of those individuals to gain entrance to the Hall.

Seven votes, and almost no outcry from the sabermetric folks?

Robin deserved better.


Votes for the Hall of Fame

Look. It's not my fault they aren't letting guys in. I have to vote for 10 people this year because I have no choice.

If I had a Hall of Fame ballot for 2010, I would vote for the following, in the order in which I think they deserve it.

1. Bert Blyleven
Look. Blyleven threw 4970 innings with an ERA+ of 117. His ERA+ is better than Phil Niekro's or Robin Roberts' or Steve Carlton's. Blyleven had 11 seasons with an ERA+ of 120 or better, and in 10 of those seasons he threw over 200 innings. I don't know what to say. This is just bare facts.

2. Barry Larkin
Barry Larkin might be something like the fifth-best shortstop ever. It depends on your estimation of his defense. Like a lot of players, Larkin won three Gold Gloves *after* his best defensive years earned him a good reputation. Unlike a lot of players, Larkin was the epitome of offensive efficiency. Seriously, look:

939 walks, 817 strikeouts
379 steals, 77 caught stealing (83.1% success)

3. Tim Raines
Career OBP: .386. 808 steals, 146 caughts. Not sure what the hiccup is here.

4. Roberto Alomar
Roberto Alomar was insanely consistent, in a way very similar to Derek Jeter except without the consistently bad defense. Alomar was a leadoff type, hanging out among the leaders in OBP and steals for most of his career, while also socking some homers and doubles. Second base was a very weak position in the 1990s, but Alomar would have stood out in any era.

5. Alan Trammell
This may take some work, because I am well aware that a career line of .285/.352/.415 doesn't immediately leap off the page and make you go "amazing!" But look, in 1980 Trammell's .300/.376/.404 with 12 SB and 12 CS (!) was good for FORTY (40) runs above the average shortstop of the time. Miguel Tejada's .308/.354/.508 in 2002 was only good for 30; A-Rod's .300/.392/.623 in Arlington in 2002 was good for 51. So Trammell's 1980, adjusted for era, was the equivalent of something between those two very good seasons by two very good shortstops. Maybe like .304/.376/.560, or something.

That was Trammell's seventh-best hitting season. His numbers are obscured by park and era, and he had the Bill James-identified problem of being good at a lot of things instead of amazing at one or two.

6. Edgar Martinez
So, okay, people. The rules of the game of baseball as played in the American League since 1973 allow teams to have a DH. As a DH, compared to other DHs--guys who are almost by definition good at hitting but not at defense--Edgar Martinez was worth about 30 or 40 more runs per season than your garden variety. When he played third base in '90-'92, Edgar was very bad in his first year (as is common), -7 in his second, and right about average in his third. At third base. You can't sincerely tell me that a guy like that, if moved to first base because he played in the NL or before 1973, would have damaged his career that much with defensive numbers.

And you can't discredit Edgar's offense, even compared to DHs. Hitting .312/.418/.515 for your career is insane (147 OPS+), and being in the top 10 in the AL in OPS from 1995 through 2001 is insane also. Edgar does not wow with HR or RBI totals. But he had the 22nd best OBP of all time, and it wasn't empty.

7. Robin Ventura
I have no idea if Robin Ventura is even going to get enough votes to stay on the ballot for 2011. But look. We know a few things about third base and the Hall. First of all, 3B is considered a good-hitting position because of guys like Mike Schmidt and "Home Run" Baker (it's in his NAME for God's sake!) and Eddie Mathews and George Brett and Wade Boggs. Only Brooks Robinson and Jimmy Collins really gloved their way into the Hall. This means that guys who aren't both good enough at D to compete with Robinson (who was legitimately amazing), and guys who aren't quite good enough hitters to compare to the insanely good people in the Hall at this position, get left out. This list includes famous HoF snub Ron Santo, Stan Hack, and Darrell Evans.

It is soon to include Robin Ventura.

Ventura suffers from a few unfortunate things.
1. He was a great defender who won 6 Gold Gloves, and was indeed identified as a great defensive third baseman by people in the know...but somehow never became synonymous with the position. His somewhat-contemporary Scott Rolen kind of did, but for their career both Rtot and FRAA agree that they were roughly similar in this regard. Ventura was probably one of the top 10 defensive 3B of all time, but does not seem to be particularly well-remembered for this.

2. Ventura was overshadowed for much of his career. When you play for the White Sox, and you are across the infield from -- and down the order from -- Frank Thomas, it is probably easy to see you as a role-player. The 1990s White Sox are remembered not as legendary series-winners or great offensive teams (which they often weren't), as much as the teams with Frank Thomas on them. Ventura doesn't get the murderer's row sort of boost that someone like Tony Lazzeri gets, either; the Sox made one LCS in his time there, and he's just a good player on those halfway-decent teams.

3. Ventura walked a lot. Much like Edgar Martinez above, a large percentage of Ventura's career value lies in OBP; he only hit .267 for his career, after all. What's weird about this is that Ventura's .267 and .362 OBP (which was usually about .375-.380 during his good years) both buck the sort of .250/.330/.480 trend one tends to see with pretty good third basemen: big dudes that whack at it. Ventura *sort of* had slugging tendencies, but not to a normal 3B degree. As a hitter, Ventura has had similar career value to Troy Glaus, but with a higher average and lower SLG (in a slightly less SLG-heavy era).

4. Robin Ventura got beat up by Nolan Ryan when Nolan Ryan was a very old man.

To me, Rolen defense plus Glaus offense is a Hall of Famer. Ventura just isn't recognized as either one.

This year, I am skipping Lee Smith (who is certainly at least close) and Mark McGwire (to let the PED issue continue to mature). I need a benchmark for closer/reliever types, and I just don't know where that should be.


Catchers and the Hall

According to Bill James' Hall of Fame Standards metric, the average member of that hallowed body has around 50 career points in the metric. The average Hall of Fame catcher, on the other hand, has 33. For comparison, John Olerud has 38. Jack Clark and Andres Galarraga have 35. The average Hall of Fame catcher would get about 3 seconds of batted eyelash from a Hall of Fame voter if he were a first baseman. In fairness, that average of 33 is sandbagged a little by incorrect choices Ray Schalk, Ernie Lombardi, Roger Bresnahan, and Rick Ferrell, but the only catchers not in the Hall of Fame who would raise the average are Ivan Rodriguez (a shoo-in when he's eligible), Mike Piazza (ditto), Joe Torre, and Ted Simmons. The Hall Standards metric--and most Hall standards people use to vote--are biased against catchers, who are almost never the best hitters on their team or in the league, and whose careers are really difficult.

Catchers have it rough. They need more rest or their stats deplete (considerably, as some recent work over at Baseball Prospectus showed). Resting makes them lose some counting stats and games-played value. Their careers are often short. Those who move away from catcher don't end up playing most of their games there. A good list of the top 40 catchers of all time
almost certainly includes such "pretty good for a while" type players as Terry Steinbach and Jim Sundberg, as well as flashes in the pan like Darren Daulton or the unfortunately injured Jason Kendall. Not a list inspiring you to sepia-tinted baseball nostalgia after about the first ten, as it turns out.

But such is the nature of the catcher. Somebody has to do it, and very often it's the light-hitters who do. When you stick a heavy hitter back there, they lose production and often can't handle the defense. There's a greater risk of injury, too.

Still, the Hall needs to give credit where credit is due for some great catchers who have done exceedingly well in obscurity. They don't reach the hitting heights of great outfielders, and when they are excellent at their defensive jobs they aren't spectacular like middle infielders. Think of a great play by Ozzie Smith. Now think of a great play by his catching equivalent, Ivan Rodriguez. Could you even do it?

Catchers need different standards of evaluation. More of them need to be in the Hall of Fame than are currently, and we still need to jettison the overrated Bresnahan, the completely average but long-tenured Ferrell, the light-hitting Schalk, and the defensively-inept plus 1940s-inflated Lombardi.

So how do we test these guys? What do we want from a catcher? How do we give them a bonus for being catchers? Those questions are fairly easy to answer. And the hard one: how many catchers *are* worthy of the Hall, compared to those at other positions, given their shorter careers and generally lower totals of Win Shares/WAR/WARP3/whatever? Where the hell is that cutoff?

Test Case 1: Joe Torre

Joe Torre is not in the Hall of Fame as a player. Luckily he'll get in anyway because of this -- and more power to him. But Torre needs to be in the Hall of Fame because, as it turns out, he looks an awful lot like the cutoff to me.

Various historical things that rank players' assessments of Joe Torre:

Modified Bill James Objective Function: 64.87, 72nd best non-pitcher ever, between Billy Williams and Barry Larkin. Verdict: Obvious Hall of Famer, one of the best players and catchers of all time.

Chone's WAR: 54.8, 84th best non-pitcher since 1955, between Andre Dawson and Jason Giambi. Verdict: Dawson and Giambi aren't Hall material for various reasons, so Torre shouldn't be either.

Baseball Prospectus' WARP3 and JAWS: 75.1 career Wins Above Replacement Player, adjusted for all-time. This is a respectable total in Dwight Evans and Darrell Evans territory. His JAWS score, which combines that with the player's seven best peak years, is 61.5, lower than perennial Hall borderliner Dewey's 66.2 and higher than Hall borderliner Darrell's 61.1. And here's the thing. Darrell, who was a third baseman-turned-first baseman, was useful at accumulating your favorite all-encompassing counting stat until age 42. Dwight, a career outfielder, did it until age 39. Torre was burger at 36. Piazza was semi-burger by 33 but hung around a little. Pudge Rodriguez has moved into replacement-level territory now at age 37. Bench moved to third base at age 34, sucked, and retired a season later.

Yes, indeed, there are guys like John Olerud that were unhelpful after 34, but the aging curve for catchers is just tougher. Catching is tough on your knees, your arm, your hitting, and your desire to keep playing baseball. So here is my modest proposal.

John Olerud, Dwight Evans, Darrell Evans, and (let's say) Buddy Bell are legitimately borderline Hall players not quite in. They also fall in the realm of players we might remember, or be able to "grok" how they played from looking at their stats. This is less true for dead ball-era players or whoever. These guys are probably on the right side of the aisle at the moment (though Bell has the most legitimate beef because of his position). So how about this to:

If a catcher, at the most scarce position, puts up numbers that are comparable to a borderline Hall guy at a less scarce, more productive position, they should be a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame. If they're comparable to a legitimate Hall catcher, that's good too. This is a simple metric, easy to apply by comparing guys.

So here we go.

Just as a sample, we'll start with the best and work from there. The way that Bill James' similarity scores work means that you get comparables from your own position first and it goes down the more difficult their position was compared to yours (and vice versa), so bear that in mind...

Johnny Bench's lifetime comparables from Baseball-Reference:
Yogi Berra, Gary Carter, Carlton Fisk, DALE MURPHY, RON SANTO.

Verdict: In. Easy in. That doesn't even include defense.

Joe Torre:
Vern Stephens, Bobby Doerr, Gabby Hartnett, RYNE SANDBERG...BARRY LARKIN

Verdict: In. If you are anything like a HoF second baseman or shortstop, you're good enough.

Ted Simmons:

Verdict: In. Ted was a little below average at defense, but not enough to drop him out of consideration as one of the greats.

Jorge Posada:
Mike Lowell, Rich Aurilia, Aramis Ramirez, Joe Gordon

Verdict: Out. These guys are not Hall of Fame guys, especially not yet, and no matter how you slice it up. Gordon was pretty darn good, but the comparability is kinda thin: Gordon OPSed .822 when that was a 120 OPS+; Posada OPSed .858 when that was a 124 OPS+. Any comparison to Gordon shouldn't flatter a modern hitter.

Thurman Munson:
Carlos Baerga, Red Kress, Michael Young, Gil McDougald

Verdict: No freaking way. Munson was pretty good but flies well below the cutoff. That's true any way you slice it, too.

Lance Parrish:
Bret Boone, Ron Cey, Vinny Castilla, Travis Fryman, Robin Ventura

Verdict: Nope. These guys (sometime 3Bs all!) would never make the Hall as pure batsmen. Ventura's argument (which might be legit) would be heavy on the glove angle. Big Wheel was a good defensive catcher but not good enough to make it in with this kind of hitting.

Gene Tenace:
Jose Hernandez, Rico Petrocelli, a bunch of catchers

Tenace was a 3TO sort, which has been common from the catcher position. This is the point where we stop getting catchers who have valid arguments. He's just not there career-wise unless he was the best defensive catcher of all time. He was average.

Mike Piazza:

Verdict: Duh. Even with the bad defense. Chipper has bad defense too.

Ivan Rodriguez:

Verdict: Superduh. Pudge is the greatest defensive catcher ever -- or in the top 2 -- and his hitting would make him Hall-caliber anyway.

Everyone knows Piazza and Pudge Rodriguez are out-and-out shooins. Ted Simmons and Joe Torre should be in. The cutoff is closer to where they are than where Johnny Bench is, and it's definitely not any of these Hall of Famers:

Roger Bresnahan
Lyn Lary, Jerry Priddy, Kid Elberfeld, Tom Herr, Bill Doran

Verdict: I will grant that Bresnahan played in the dead-ball era, but even his closer contemporaries like Bucky Harris and Woody English were definitely not close to Hall material.

Ray Schalk:
Leo Durocher, Everett Scott, Luke Sewell, Ted Sizemore

Verdict: Schalk probably got in on the basis of his very good defense. But like Bresnahan, the hitting (career 83 OPS+) is not there at all.

Ernie Lombardi:
Rich Aurilia, Carlos Baerga, catchers

Verdict: Lombardi is in the Hall because of a career .300 average and good hitting. He was a really good hitter (career EqA .295!). He also played during the war and got some stat inflation, played in a fairly hitter-heavy era, and was Piazza-bad on defense. A bat a lot like Munson's and terrible defense are not the ingredients.

Rick Ferrell:
Jim Gantner, Tony Cuccinello, Dick Groat

Verdict: Ferrell is totally inexplicable. Playing as a near-contemporary of Lombardi, he put up dead-ball hitting numbers. No power at all. If he'd had some, maybe we could have talked. But as it is he is by far the worst Hall catcher of the modern era. If you make him anything like the cutoff, Jim Sundberg, Jason Kendall, Chris Hoiles, and Mickey Tettleton are Hall material. They are not.

Similarity scores are fun, and because catchers tend to have fairly distinct hitting patterns, they make this kind of work rather easy. My cutoff: Ted Simmons. If you are better you are in. If you're a little worse, we'll talk. Jorge Posada would get there with 2 more quite good seasons, I think.

Other active catchers on their way?

Joe Mauer. Russell Martin. Brian McCann. There really aren't any players around the 30-year-old mark that make a dent here. Assuming things go well for these three, they'll get there. We would have said the same about Jason Kendall 7 years ago, though.


Restarting This Blog

I never finished my 2B rankings before BP changed their WARP formula (downgrading everyone by about 2 wins per season), and I'm not sure I'm really sad about that. I was not necessarily confident in the Davenport Translations' valuation of defense or accuracy in calculating it, especially given how much it disagrees with other systems about current players like Michael Young.

So that list is on the backburner for now.

What I *am* still desperately interested in is posting new, relevant baseball content. Possibly shorter and less project-oriented for the time being. So in the next couple of weeks, I am going to post several small comments and articles with a certain amount of snarkiness about the following things:

*Evaluating historical catchers, including some who might surprise you.
*Opening day rosters and what they may or may not signify
*What happened to all the outfielders?
*Odd early-season fun stuff

Hopefully this will be enjoyable. I want this blog to have content, dammit, and it will if it's the last thing I do.


Top 100 Second Basemen: 30-21

At this point on the list, all of the players here should be considered among the all-time greats, worthy of retired jerseys and historical comparisons and fully worth remembering. My pick for the Hall of Fame cutoff lies just higher than this...there should be many more second basemen in the Hall than there are, even if we say that only a truly fantastic player should be included. These next ten were not truly fantastic, by historical standards, but they were all great. You'll be surprised by some of them.

30. Gil McDougald, Yankees 1951-60
Career WARP3 66.5, Career EqA .273, 1 season 10+ WARP3, 8 total seasons 6+, Rookie of the Year, 5-time All-Star

Gil McDougald did not screw around. He played on the Yankees dynasty teams of 1951 to 1960, making 5 All-Star appearances and 8 World Series appearances. The Yankees repaid him by allowing him to be expansion-drafted by the new Washington Senators, so he packed up his bat and went home, leaving behind a ten-year career that sparkled. Widely regarded as an excellent player (hence the All-Star appearances), McDougald was primarily a defensive specialist with reasonable average and power. Not even for a season was he a below-average fielder, and he was usually near the top of the AL with Nellie Fox. He and Fox were clearly the best AL second-baggers of the era, and Fox is in the Hall of Fame. McDougald didn't do quite enough to reach that level, especially since he quit at 32, but who would want to leave 8 World Series for the expansion Senators?

29. Carlos Baerga, Indians 1990-96, Mets 1996-98, Padres/Indians 1999, Red Sox 2002, Diamondbacks 2003-04, Nationals 2005
Career WARP3 55.1, Career EqA .270, 1 season 11+ WARP3, 1 season 10+, 3-time All-Star, 2-time Silver Slugger

If Carlos Baerga had retired at 26, after the 1995 season, he would have had about 48 WARP3 and a career triple-slash of .304/.341/.450. His real career triple-slash isn't much worse, but it's *that* Baerga, the one who was so good for the Indians, that's really worth remembering. A hit machine with power and strong defense, Baerga was legitimately tied for the best second baseman in baseball with now-legend Roberto Alomar during 1991 and 1992. Outside of Cleveland Municipal Stadium and his era, he'd have slugged about .545 three times, no mean feat for a second baseman. I heavily value players' peak seasons, and Baerga had some awesome ones.

28. Julio Franco, Phillies 1982, Indians 1983-88, Rangers 1989-93, White Sox 1994, Indians 1996-97, Brewers 1997, Devil Rays 1999, Braves 2001-05, Mets 2006-07, Braves 2007
Career WARP3 92.3, Career EqA .286, 3 seasons 8+ WARP3, 5-time Silver Slugger, 3-time All Star

Those of us who know Franco as the Ageless Wonder of the Braves are failing to remember his years as a middle infielder for the Indians and Rangers. I am fudging a bit here; Franco played more short than second, but he was a bad shortstop and moved to second where he did less damage with his fielding. As a hitter, Franco was a great second-hitter type: some speed and a little home run power and OBP, but mostly hits, hits, hits. He had 180 or more 6 times. In 1991, Franco's best year at the plate, he hit .341 to win a batting title; that was the last of his very best years, and his worst in the field. Franco was on the verge of entering third gear in 1994 as the White Sox DH, as he hit .319/.406/.510 with 20 homers in the shortened season, garnering the Silver Slugger for DHs. Franco didn't just compile over the course of his marathon career; his comparables by age include luminaries Barry Larkin, Lou Boudreau, and Alvin Dark.

27. Davey Lopes, Dodgers 1972-81, A's 1982-84, Cubs 1984-86, Astros 1986-87
Career WARP3 82.2, Career EqA .284, 1 season 9+ WARP3, 2 seasons 8+, 3 seasons 7+, 4-time All-Star

The odd ending and pronunciation of Davey Lopes' last name derives in part from the fact that he is a Cape Verdean American, much like Minnesota Timberwolf Ryan Gomes and former Detroit Lions coach Wayne Fontes. These sorts of things interest me. As the premier base-stealer of the mid-1970s, Lopes was a key part of the well-known lineup of the Dodgers of that era, who lost three World Series and finally got over the hump in 1981. Lopes was good at most things; he could motor and hit for a little power, and drew walks fairly well but inconsistently from season to season. Defensively Lopes was inconsistent as well, near Gold Glove caliber some seasons and well below in others. He ended his career about average. Lopes was positively heroic in the 1978 postseason, hitting .389/.389/.889 in the LCS and .308/.357/.654 in the World Series, with two homers in the four-game LCS and three in the six-game World Series. Lopes' 12 RBIs that postseason weren't enough to deliver the Dodgers a championship.

26. Ray Durham, White Sox 1995-2002, A's 2002, Giants 2003-08, Brewers 2008

Career WARP3 86.3, Career EqA .276, 1 season 10+ WARP3, 8 total seasons 6+, 2-time All-Star

Consistently playing at a level just below the best second baseman in baseball for almost his entire career, Durham has been a little underrated and underpaid, grossing just $59,000,000 for his long, productive, retired-jersey-worthy career. That said, the switch-hitting solid defender has put together one of the great fantasy baseball careers of all time, with the 60th best Power-Speed Number of all time at a tough middle infield position. Durham is a player who typifies his era, especially appropriate considering that he played during the "fantasy era." His comparables by age are all near contemporaries: Felipe Lopez, Rafael Furcal, Craig Biggio, and Jay Bell. Durham has been above average at basically everything including contact, power, defense, running, and drawing walks, but he has no signature skill or signature moment to define his career. Ray deserved better than three Division Series losses as his only postseason opportunities; he has hit .271/.375/.542 with three homers in 54 PA during postseason play only to see his teams fail to exit the first round. If the Brewers can get themselves a Wild Card spot, maybe his luck will change this year.

25. Lonny Frey, Dodgers 1933-36, Cubs 1937, Reds 1938-47, Yankees 1947-48, Giants 1948
Career WARP3 74.8, Career EqA .277, 1 season 11+ WARP3, 1 season 10+, 3-time All Star

Linus Reinhard Frey was named the Reds all-time second baseman at a 100th anniversary celebration in 1969, while Joe Morgan was still playing in Houston. That underscores the level of respect that Reds fans had for Frey, a well-rounded hitter who was also a Gold Glove-caliber defender once he moved over from shortstop and out of Brooklyn, where he was positively heckle-worthy. Frey thrived with the Reds as a leader the very good but unsung Bucky Walters - Ernie Lombardi back-to-back NL and 1940 World Series champions. A good walk-drawer, Frey led the league in steals in 1940 with 22: it was the depths of the no-steal era, and Frey was therefore a bit atypical. He got one over on the Dodgers in 1947, riding the pine on the World Series champion Yankees.

24. Tony Lazzeri, Yankees 1926-37, Cubs 1938, Dodgers 1939, Giants 1939
Career WARP3 85.0, Career EqA .284, 2 seasons 10+ WARP3, 5-time MVP vote recipient, 1-time All-Star, Hall of Fame

A member of the Murderer's Row, Lazzeri might actually have been the best Yankee in 1929, hitting .354/.429/.561, scoring 101 runs and batting in 106 in a career year. Lazzeri was many of the things Joe DiMaggio gets credit for being: a bona fide star plucked from the west coast Italian community who played on the biggest stage in the majors. Never a very good defender, Lazzeri's career value is almost entirely based on batting, and he was not in all honesty as good at that as some people think. A career .292 hitter in his era, he'd hit about .269 in a park and era neutral world, which softens his career numbers significantly. Lazzeri had a relatively short and soft peak compared to a bona fide Hall of Fame second baseman. Still, he had the best year of anyone on the 1929 Yankees and is worth remembering as a great hitter at a scarce position. Would you believe that this lower-tier Hall of Famer is the greatest Yankee second baseman of all time? It's true...I'm looking at you, Robinson Cano. Well, maybe not.

23. Eddie Stanky, Cubs 1943-44, Dodgers 1944-47, Braves 1948-49, Giants 1950-51, Cardinals 1952-53
Career WARP3 72.2, Career EqA .288, 1 season 11+ WARP3, 1 season 10+, 3-time All-Star

Leo Durocher said of Stanky that he couldn't hit, field, or run. He was wrong on at least one count: Stanky was surely a Gold Glove-caliber second baseman all his years in the league. He wasn't a tremendous hitter or runner, either, but he was a specialist in a skill beloved of statheads and the authors of this blog: walking. Despite being basically a powerless, Walt Weissish type with the bat, Stanky posted a career OBP of .410, a full 62 points higher than his slugging and 142 points higher than his batting average. He led the league in walks three times and OBP twice, in years when he hit .273 and a career-high .300. Stanky had a skill set that's not much beloved among certain types of people: defense and walks. Fundamentals can move you pretty far up a list populated with big bats, and Stanky's right up there at the cusp of the Hall of Fame in our book.

22. Bret Boone, Mariners 1992-93, Reds 1994-98, Braves 1999, Padres 2000, Mariners 2001-05, Twins 2005
Career WARP3 80.2, Career EqA .267, 1 season 14+ WARP3, 1 season 13+, 3-time All-Star, 2-time Silver Slugger, 4-time Gold Glove

Essentially a well-below-average hitter (.219 EqA twice, an early-career high of .284) throughout a nine-year career as a defensive specialist before his 32-year-old 2001 season, Boone was an underrated, workmanlike middle infielder. I'm not sure I buy the steroid argument; Boone had hit double-digit home runs seven times despite horrible batting averages throughout his career. What really went up in 2002 wasn't his power at all; it was his AVERAGE. Boone hit .331/.372/.578 in 2001 while playing enormous Hall of Fame defense, then turned in a couple more excellent years before finally getting old. In his age-32, age-33, and age-34 seasons, Boone was Roberto Alomar. Sure, it's a weird time to be...but that doesn't change the fact that he really just found a way to hit the ball. He'd always hit it hard, never mind which years.

21. Chuck Knoblauch, Twins 1991-97, Yankees 1998-2001, Royals 2002
Career WARP3 83.9, Career EqA .286, 1 season 12+ WARP3, 1 season 10+, 4-time All-Star, Rookie of the Year, Gold Glove, 2-time Silver Slugger

Chuck Knoblauch has one of the great postseason records (14-1 in career postseason series) despite hitting only .258/.339/.324 in his postseason career. Lifetime, he was .289/.378/.406, which is every bit as good as it sounds considering six years in the Metrodome. Knoblauch at his peak was a Gold Glove-caliber second baseman, though a lot of folks remember him for his late-career difficulties throwing to first base. Knoblauch apparently may have been an HGH user, but it's difficult to discern anything specific from his numbers; a moderate increase in home runs followed his move to New York, but these were his prime 29-30 years and he was moving from the Metrodome to Yankee Stadium. Knoblauch was an excellent baserunner and leadoff type, almost a Craig Biggio with speed instead of power. It is a shame, to me, that he couldn't exorcise the demons even in left field with the Royals. Knoblauch might just have been a Hall of Famer with 2-3 more years of productive play.

Top 100 Second Basemen: 40-31

Typically, the top 40 at a position is where we start to see the undeserving Hall of Famers pop up on lists. However, because there are fewer second-sackers than any other position in the Hall, we only get one Hall of Famer in this stage of the list: our first and worst.

40. Bill Doran, Astros 1982-90, Reds 1990-92, Brewers 1993
Career WARP3 62.8, Career EqA .281, 3 seasons 8+ WARP3, 7 total seasons 6+, 3-time MVP vote-getter

Because of the Astrodome and the presence of a lot of good offensive players at other positions, Doran was not among the league leaders in almost any statistical categories except walks at any point during his career. An excellent out-avoider despite only having a medium-sized wallop in his bat, Doran did a lot of the things that would come to be associated with Astros second basemen because of Craig Biggio. Doubles, steals, and walks were his stock in trade, and there are few players that are less flattered by their career lines because of where they played. Doran's lifetime triple-slash: .266/.354/.373. Doran's rate stats in a park-neutral, era-neutral format: .286/.374/.433. A literal league-average defender, Doran is zero runs above or below average for his career.

39. Placido Polanco, Cardinals 1998-2002, Phillies 2002-05, Tigers 2005-08
Career WARP3 58.3, Career EqA .269, 1 season 9+ WARP3, 3 seasons 7+, Silver Slugger, 1-time All-Star, Gold Glove

Placido Polanco has been excellent defensively at second and third throughout his career, which really culminated with the Silver Slugger-plus-Gold Glove season he had in 2007 with the Tigers. He deserved the Gold Glove: 14 fielding runs above average and zero errors. As a hitter, Polanco is a somewhat interesting specimen: a singles hitter who walks little, strikes out little, and hits .300 more often than not. Having reached the decline stage of his career (probably), Polanco may end his value here, with some All-Star caliber seasons and an underrated career under his belt. Polanco has been exactly the same player in his three postseason appearances he has been throughout his career: .333/.370/.357.

38. Danny Murphy, Giants 1900-01, Athletics 1902-13, Brooklyn Tip-Tops (Federal) 1914-15
Career WARP3 62.8, Career EqA .283, 1 season 9+ WARP3, 2 seasons 8+ WARP3

Danny Murphy was almost destined to be forgotten; he's got a career line of .289/.336/.405, which through a medium-length career in the height of the dead-ball era doesn't exactly put him on any career leaders lists. He also got supplanted at second (and rightly so) for Eddie Collins, which paved the way for Connie Mack's "$100,000 Infield" team that won two World Series with Murphy as the right fielder. But Murphy was, during the decade of the "aughts", one of the very best offensive threats in the American League. Though he never led the league in any statistical category, he was a perennial top ten contributor in home runs, doubles, extra base hits, and runs created. Today he'd hit about .291/.346/.498 and in his best years would have batted .300 and slugged over .500, bringing him into Chase Utley territory. Murphy had his best moment on the biggest stage; in the 1910 World Series, the A's first win, he was 8-for-20 with 3 doubles, a home run, and 9 RBIs, which probably makes him the MVP of a series in which Collins and Frank "Home Run" Baker also played well (though Home Run didn't hit any home runs).

37. Johnny Evers, Cubs 1902-13, Braves 1914-17, Phillies 1917, White Sox 1922, Braves 1929
Career WARP3 73.3, Career EqA .269, 1 season 8+ WARP3, 1 season 7+, MVP 1914, Hall of Fame

Johnny Evers does not belong in the Hall of Fame any more than Danny Murphy does; both are second-tier players who were great in some years, very good in others, and average for a very long time. Evers probably deserved the 1914 MVP even less than his Hall spot, but it was a weak year for hitters in the NL so we can give them a bit of a pass. Known so much as a double-play turner solely because of the poem, what kind of player was Evers really? He had a great eye and little power, some speed, and played great-to-good defense when he was young enough to get to the ball. To me, he sounds like a modern leadoff hitter, someone who could be a key performer on a championship dynasty just like the real Evers was. Let's call him a rich man's Luis Castillo.

36. Frank White, Royals 1973-1990
Career WARP3 84.4, Career EqA .247, 1 season 8+ WARP3, 13 total seasons 4+, 5-time All-Star, 8-time Gold Glove

White was a bad hitter, well below league average, who late in his career developed some power to get his slugging percentage to .383 career but never could hit for contact or draw a walk. A career .293 OBP would damn almost anyone to a career as a utility infielder. All of the above is meant to illustrate just how amazing a defender Frank White was. There are really only two people who have a legitimate claim to being the best defensive second baseman of all time: Bill Mazeroski and Frank White. White was worth 173 runs above average during his entire career, Mazeroski 202. White played alongside good shortstops like Freddie Patek and U L Washington, while Mazeroski played alongside his own good ones in Dick Groat and Dick Schofield. Bill Mazeroski is in the Hall of Fame entirely on the strength of his defense and a clutch home run. Frank White played in a lot of postseason games, but didn't do much offensively until the 1985 World Series. He'll never make the Hall, but Frank White stayed a great defender later into his career than any other player on the list.

35. Del Pratt, Browns 1912-17, Yankees 1918-20, Red Sox 1921-22, Tigers 1923-24
Career WARP3 72.2, Career EqA .269, 3 seasons 8+ WARP3, 3-time MVP vote recipient

Del Pratt played for a couple of teams in the second half of his career that made the World Series either just before or just after he played for them. It wasn't his fault; in his best years with the Yankees, Pratt was a defensive performer with a strong power bat that today would translate into home runs, and was the best or second-best hitter on the team. A bit of an iron horse, Pratt led the league in games played five times in his career.

34. Chase Utley, Phillies 2003-08
Career WARP3 44.2, Career EqA .306, 1 season 11+ WARP3, 1 season 10+, 4 total seasons 8+, 2-time Silver Slugger, 2-time All-Star

In a golden age for National League second basemen, Utley is head and shoulders above the rest. I firmly believe that if he were erased from existence tomorrow, his four dominant years would still make him the 34th best second baseman of all time; each year he plays he will move up the list, and if his current form is any indication, he'll move up in big chunks. Utley has just turned 29 and is having an excellent defensive season for the first time in his career; if he becomes a great defender, he'll accumulate even more value than his offense, where he does literally everything well. Utley will be a Hall of Famer with four more years like 2005; if he keeps hitting like 2008, he'll only need 3 more. A legend in the making, it's a shame he got started relatively late for a great player at 24.

33. Buddy Myer, Senators 1925-27, Red Sox 1927-28, Senators 1929-41
Career WARP3 75.8, Career EqA .273, 1 season 10+ WARP3, 1 season 8+, 2-time All-Star

Charles Solomon Myer won the 1935 batting title in his second-best season, but killed his overall value with pretty bad defense like he did for much of his career. A full 76 runs below average for his career, Myer made up for it with a .303 average and a ton of triples. Though it doesn't help him on this list, Myer was a historically significant player as the Jewish player who had the longest major league career, dealing with a ton of abuse along the way. Because the Senators have lost their history in many of the Twins record books, Myer is remembered less well than he should be in our baseball annals.

32. Tony Cuccinello, Reds 1930-31, Dodgers 1932-35, Braves 1936-40, Giants 1940, Braves 1942-43, White Sox 1943-45
Career WARP3 68.1, Career EqA .270, 1 season 10+ WARP3, 1 season 9+, 3-time All-Star

Cuccinello was a journeyman who never won a pennant, which by itself has probably condemned him to somewhat less notoriety than he deserved. A good eye and solid batting average made Cuccinello a great player, and during 1936 and 1937 he was by far the best player on the middling Braves. In his three All-Star selections, Cuccinello only came to bat once as a pinch-hitter; tough shakes for a great player who could never seem to catch a break. Cooch finally got a ring as a member of the coaching staff of the 1968 Detroit Tigers.

31. Jim Gilliam, Dodgers 1953-66
Career WARP3 74.8, Career EqA .265, 1 season 10+ WARP3, Rookie of the Year, 2-time All-Star

Gilliam played second and third for the Dodgers on both coasts. A leadoff hitter who could run, draw walks, and almost never struck out, he was the ultimate percentage player: all contact, all eye, no power. Because he played during the Dodgers' ultimate heyday, Gilliam found himself a contributor in seven World Series, including one in his first and last years in the league. One of the all-time greats at avoiding strikeouts, Gilliam led the league in at-bats per strikeout five times and performed an exceedingly rare feat: leading the league in at-bats per strikeout and bases on balls in 1959. Most guys who draw walks do so by taking pitches, which also increases strikeout totals. Gilliam was, apparently, just really good at seeing balls and strikes, which made up for his average bat.


Top 100 Second Basemen: 50-41

As we enter the top 50, we are still a few short of the really special historical players.

50. Dick McAuliffe, Tigers 1960-73, Red Sox 1974-75
Career WARP3 64.2, Career EqA .270, 3 seasons 8+ WARP3, 3-time All-Star

McAuliffe, who played bad shortstop and average second base for the Tigers for the better part of 14 seasons, was a real slugger. In the pitcher-dominated era of the mid-1960s and environs, McAuliffe hit 20 or more home runs 3 times and 10 or more home runs 11 times. In an ironic twist, his best years above replacement value were those years he spent as a shortstop, more due to positional scarcity than any legitimate increase in performance; he was worse defensively at short, as well. One of the many Tigers who appeared on MVP ballots in 1968, he came in 8th on the ballot that Denny McLain won. It wasn't a bad choice at all if you liked the first-place Tigers: only catcher Bill Freehan was clearly a better offensive player that year at his position.

49. Brian Roberts, Orioles 2001-2008
Career WARP3 46.7, Career EqA .281, 1 season 10+ WARP3, 2 seasons 9+ WARP3, 2-time All-Star

Had the Cubs managed to figure out that much-discussed deal for Roberts before the season, they'd probably be 3 or 4 more games ahead in their division right now. This is by no means a knock on Mark DeRosa; Roberts has simply been the real deal since he hit his stride in 2005, having been the Orioles' best player 3 out of the 4 years since. A doubles-hitting leadoff man with excellent base-stealing abilities and solid patience, Roberts is probably the best second baseman in the American League despite not being a defensive standout; he's about average on defense. Roberts will move up this list as long as he's still hitting. At age 30, he's shown enough power to transition into a different kind of player once his legs don't work as well, so it's difficult to see him missing the top 40.

48. Max Bishop, Athletics 1924-33, Red Sox 1934-35
Career WARP3 62.2, Career EqA .271, 2 seasons 8+ WARP3, 9 total seasons 4+ WARP3

Something of a forgotten man on the A's 3-time pennant-winners in 1929-1931, Bishop was probably rightly overshadowed by the Al Simmonses, Mickey Cochranes, and Jimmy Foxxes of the world on one of the legendary semi-dynasties of all time. Bishop was an interesting player for a few reasons, though. There was not a single reason to pitch around Bishop: he was a lifetime .271 hitter in a hitter's era with little power despite the live ball. Yet Bishop, known as "Camera Eye," may have had the best eye for drawing walks of anyone during his era. He rivaled Ruth and Gehrig in base-on-balls despite being a completely unassuming hitter; his career OBP of .423 is testament to this ability. Also a good defender, Bishop is one of those players whose skills were at the underrated aspects of the game and therefore is destined to be underrated himself.

47. Steve Sax, Dodgers 1981-88, Yankees 1989-91, White Sox 1992-93, A's 1994
Career WARP3 60.1, Career EqA .269, 2 seasons 8+ WARP3, 2 seasons 7+ WARP3, Rookie of the Year, 5-time All-Star

An exciting player who was very popular in the 1980s, Sax's value during his good years came largely from some excellent Chavez Ravine-softened batting averages and a good set of wheels. Sax wasn't much of a second baseman; he was well below average defensively for his entire career. As a hitter, he was better than his stats in LA made him look. In an average era in an average park, he'd have hit .299 and slugged .409 instead of .281 and .358; for some reason, Sax was popular despite this. In 1986 he hit .332 and stole 40 bases while also hitting 40 doubles; it was his best year. Still, Sax was probably not all he was cracked up to be; a leadoff man who drew few walks, he was in the top 8 in the league in outs 10 times.

46. Robby Thompson, Giants 1986-96
Career WARP3 57.2, Career EqA .275, 1 season 9+ WARP3, 1 season 8+, Silver Slugger, Gold Glove, 2-time All-Star

From the same era and division as Sax, Thompson was a much different kind of player. An all-around player with some power and speed, but little patience, Thompson was also a good defensive player during his best years. Thompson would hit a lot more home runs in a different historical situation, which may tend to mask some of his real value. His Gold Glove season appears to have been deserved in 1993, as it was his best defensive year. Teaming with Jose Uribe and then Royce Clayton, Thompson was emblematic of the Giants' recent era: he played alongside Will Clark, Matt Williams, and Barry Bonds on teams that were often good but not good enough to bring home a title.

45. Mark Loretta, Brewers 1995-2002, Astros 2002, Padres 2003-05, Red Sox 2006, Astros 2007-08
Career WARP3 55.8, Career EqA .270, 1 season 12+ WARP3, 1 season 8+, Silver Slugger, 2-time All-Star

Largely an unnoticed, average performer for the Brewers during his early career, Loretta found his stride during 2003 and 2004 with San Diego, becoming one of the very best players in baseball over that short but meaningful span. Staying healthy, ratcheting up his defense and finding some power in his bat, Loretta in 2004 crushed the league for a .335/.391/.495 year that is heavily softened by the size and bias of Petco Park. Those excellent years in San Diego coupled with salty career rate stats of .297/.361/.399 move Loretta up the list.

44. Davey Johnson, Orioles 1965-72, Braves 1973-75, Phillies 1977-78, Cubs 1978
Career WARP3 60.7, Career EqA .272, 2 seasons 8+ WARP3, 2 seasons 7+, 4-time All-Star, 3-time Gold Glove

Davey Johnson in his prime was a great defender, fully 15-20 runs above the average second baseman in a year. In every year other than 1973, he was a solid hitter for average and power, a doubles guy who hit about .280/.350/.390; in short, he was your run of the mill sort-of All-Star-caliber second baseman. In 1973, for whatever reason, he became a home run machine, knocking 43 dingers (17 on the road, so maybe not so much with the "new park" thing) while playing worse defense than he ever had and otherwise playing roughly the same. Because his D that season was terrible, his crazy fluke home run season--his second career high was 18--ranks only as his fourth most valuable season, a word of warning to those who would play people somewhere they *can* play instead of where they should. It is unknown what entity was inhabiting Davey's body that season, but I'd think twice about letting it in.

43. Claude Ritchey, Cincinatti 1897, Louisville 1898-1899, Pirates 1900-06, Braves 1907-09
Career WARP3 64.0, Career EqA .262, 1 season 8+ WARP3, 9 total seasons 4+

A relatively obscure early modern era player, Claude was a solid combination of power-hitting, getting on base, and defense. The dead ball era, with its odd parks and *ahem* dead balls, looks funny now. Suffice it to say that a lot of Ritchey's triples and doubles would probably be home runs in parks nowadays; he wasn't getting the extra bases by running, as he appears to have been slow--he stole very few bases. A strong double play partner and a slick fielder, he led his league's second basemen in fielding percentage 5 times and played second fiddle to some Wagner guy in the Pirates' infield. It seems he may not have been as much of a second fiddle as we thought, though.

42. Bobby Avila, Indians 1949-58, three teams 1959
Career WARP3 52.7, Career EqA .267, 1 season 11+ WARP3, 1 season 8+, 3-time All-Star

Roberto Francisco Avila was the first star to make the jump straight from the Mexican League to the majors, and he brought a lot of offensive tools with him. A good singles-and-doubles hitter as well as a good basestealer in a stealless era, Avila was inconsistent defensively, turning in two Gold Glove-caliber seasons in 1954 and 1956. He did almost everything well on offense, avoiding strikeouts and drawing some walks to go with his middling power. He was in the tops of the league in sacrifice hits almost every season. In 1954 he hit .341, a breakout season that included a career-high 15 homers and a tremendous defensive year. Had he played like that once more, he'd have moved up about 10 spots on this list.

41. Jimmy Williams, Pirates 1899-1900, Orioles/Highlanders 1901-07, Browns 1908-09
Career WARP3 61.6, Career EqA .270, 1 season 9+ WARP3, 2 seasons 8+

A power hitter who today would hit 20+ home runs a season, Williams was the best triples-masher in the game during his era, cresting 20 in three seasons. Almost all his value is from his considerable (at the time) power; he also hit 49 homers which was a lot for a middle infielder of his era. Also a strong fielder, Williams probably deserves somewhat more historical attention than he has received.


Top 100 Second Basemen: 60-51

60. Jim Gantner, Brewers 1979-92
Career WARP3 63.7, Career EqA .253, 1 season 8+ WARP3, 10 total seasons 4+ WARP3

Justifiably overshadowed by teammates Yount and Molitor, Gantner was a good enough second baseman to hold down a spot in one of the great lineups of the 1980s, the 1982 Harvey's Wallbangers club. Gantner was not an offensive bright spot for the team, but his solid defense and ball-in-play slap hitting made him one of the most consistent performers of the decade.

59. Jerry Priddy, Yankees 1941-42, Senators 1943, 46-47, Browns 1948-49, Tigers 1950-53
Career WARP3 48.1, Career EqA .260, 3 seasons 8+ WARP3, 4-time MVP vote-getter

Priddy played during a strange era, having productive seasons both before and after World War II. He also had his best years for two of the most obscure teams of that era, namely the Senators and Browns, who didn't help him any by playing in parks that make his numbers look terrible by modern standards. In historically average conditions, Priddy looks like what he was: a pitch-taking, strikeout-prone fellow (1025 in ~5400 PA, translated) who hits home runs and doubles well out of pace with most second basemen (.410 SLG, translated from .373). An average fielder, Priddy's primary value would be as a ball-masher; he hit more like a modern first baseman than a mid-century second baseman.

58. Johnny Ray, Pirates 1981-87, Angels 1987-90
Career WARP3 52.8, Career EqA .268, 2 seasons 8+ WARP3, 1 season 7+, Silver Slugger, 1-time All Star

For a ten-season career that ran from age 24 to 33, Johnny Ray was a darn good second baseman on both sides of the ball. As a hitter, Ray had a good balance of average and power, though his power mostly showed up as doubles--he led the league twice and finished in the top 10 five times. Ray rarely struck out and walked little as well, and this free-swinging probably led him to surprisingly lead the NL in grounding into double plays in 1986. Great defensively except for a surprising 1985, Ray was one of the more underrated performers of the 1980s solely because of who he played for.

57. Ron Hunt, Mets 1963-66, Dodgers 1967, Giants 1968-1970, Expos 1971-74
Career WARP3 56.7, Career EqA .277, 1 season 8+ WARP3, 8 total seasons 4+ WARP3, 2-time All-Star

Hunt was a bit of an on-base machine, OBPing .368 for his career partially through the accumulation of extreme numbers of hit-by-pitches. Hunt led the league in HBP 7 times in a row from 1968-1974 and had a modern-era record 50 in 1970. Hunt is third on the modern-era list behind Biggio and Don Baylor, both of whom are better known for this particular obscure stat. Despite below-average defense and next to nothing in the way of power hitting, Hunt was a very valuable player for much of his career and serves as testament to the fact that a high on-base percentage is worth quite a bit more than everything else you can do on a baseball diamond.

56. Orlando Hudson, Blue Jays 2002-05, Diamondbacks 2006-08
Career WARP3 48.0, Career EqA .270, 3 seasons 8+ WARP3, above 6 in all full seasons, 3-time Gold Glove, 1-time All-Star

O-Dog has a well-deserved reputation as a defensive wizard. He has been worth double-digit runs above average--usually closer to 20 than 10--in each full season he has played. The fact is, Hudson is probably underrated offensively; he's half as good there as he is defensively, which is saying quite a bit. Decent power, average, and eye coupled with a good arm and defensive range make Hudson a rarity indeed: a middle-infield defensive specialist who is better than the full league average in hitting. Hudson will move up the list, and will do so rapidly if he has any more years like the last three since he was traded for Troy Glaus in a trade that neither team lost badly.

55. Frank Bolling, Tigers 1954-1960, Braves 1961-1966
Career WARP3 53.9, Career EqA .243, 1 season 9+ WARP3, 2 seasons 7+, 2-time All-Star

Bolling was an excellent defender during his good years, and during his prime was a pretty good hitter--around average--with .400 slugging power and not enough OBP. Bolling unfortunately hit very few doubles; he appears to have been a fly-ball rather than a line-drive hitter, which is not a great thing to be when you can only get about 13 home runs a year at best. By the later part of his career, Bolling was useless at the plate (.199/.245/.278 in 1964) and merely average in the field.

54. Larry Doyle, Giants 1907-16, Cubs 1916-17, Giants 1918-20
Career WARP3 67.8, Career EqA .286, 1 season 7+ WARP3, 11 total seasons 4+ WARP3, 1912 NL MVP

Larry Doyle is rated much higher than this on many lists; in my opinion he was a very good, maybe great, hitter. He hit .300 many times, drew his share of walks, and in a non-dead ball situation would have mashed almost 300 career HR and slugged almost .500 with a .360 OBP. That would be Hall of Fame stuff, probably. The trouble is, Laughing Larry was a below-average defender, and in dead-ball baseball that is a big no-no for an infielder. Still, those 13 homers in 1911 and the .330/.393/.471 MVP year in 1912 are no joke; if Larry had been any kind of defender he'd be much higher on the list. Still, the DT defense metrics agree that he was bad, prety much always.

53. Miller Huggins, Reds 1904-09, Cardinals 1910-1916
Career WARP3 63.6, Career EqA .275, 2 seasons 7+ WARP3, 10 total seasons 4+ WARP3, 2-time MVP vote-getter, Hall of Fame as manager

Miller Huggins managed the Murderer's Row Yankees of the 1920s, and is probably best known to fans for that. Even so, he was a darn good second baseman, the result of taking Larry Doyle, subtracting all the power, and adding some defense and OBP. Huggins' career OBP is .382; he was a walk machine, finishing in the top 6 nearly every season and leading the league four times. Also a pretty good baserunner, Huggins would fit well as the Luis Castillo of his era: decent defense mixed with a disciplined slap-hitting approach, except way better at the whole not-getting-out thing.

52. Phil Garner, A's 1973-76, Pirates 1977-81, Astros 1981-87, Dodgers 1987, Giants 1988
Career WARP3 66.7, Career EqA .265, 2 seasons 7+ WARP3, 9 total seasons 5+ WARP3, 3-time All-Star

Scrap Iron was a fast guy and a good triples hitter who would have had more homers hitting in modern parks. Equally adept at second and third (though essentially an average defender), Garner had more power than a lot of middle infielders of his day. An infielder's infielder, his career comparables are almost all 2bs and shortstops, with a few oddballs thrown in. For the We Are Family Pirates, he split time at second and third to make some room for Bill Madlock and Rennie Stennett; he forced Rennie to the bench after moving over to make room for Madlock.

51. Dave Cash, Pirates 1969-73, Phillies 1974-76, Expos 1977-79, Padres 1980
Career WARP3 55.7, Career EqA .254, 1 season 9+ WARP3, 1 season 7+, 3-time All-Star

Cash's best years all came right in a row with the Phillies; he played solid defense and hit around .300 with a bunch of triples. A fast guy who didn't strike out or walk much, he was probably miscast as a top-order hitter (led the league in at-bats 3 times).


Top 100 Second Basemen: 70-61

Welcome back, everyone, to the latest installment of my exhaustive Top 100 countdown of second basemen. On with the show at #70.

70. Mark Ellis, A's 2002-08
Career WARP3 39.5, Career EqA .272, 1 season 9+ WARP3, 1 season 8+

Ellis is an underrated second baseman primarily because the things he is best at -- good defense and decent middle-infield power -- tend not to show up in statistics or make people good fantasy players. Ellis has, however, been an All-Star quality player in the years his hitting has been good, and still above average when he hasn't hit well due to his defense. Where he ends up career-wise will essentially be a battle between whether he hits like 2005 (.316/.384/.477), 2007 (.276/.336/.441), or 2008 (.229/.327/.377). Ellis apparently hits like a decent-hitting catcher; his top 10 comparables through age 30 include Don Slaught, Terry Steinbach, Hal Smith, Sandy Alomar Jr., Dan Wilson, Darren Fletcher, and Bengie Molina.

69. Tony Taylor, Cubs 1958-61, Phillies 1961-71, Tigers 1971-73, Phillies 1974-76
Career WARP3 59.2, Career EqA .254, 1 season 8+ WARP 3, 1 season 7+, 1-time All-Star

Antonio Nemesio Sanchez Taylor played from 22 to 40, settling into a utility role at the end of his career. A good young player with the Cubs, his real salad days were with the Phillies, where he turned in a few really good seasons along with a huge number of average ones. His best years were good, but there weren't as many years where he was above average to rank him higher than this, even though he may have been worth more for his career than many players higher on the list. Taylor was a very inconsistent hitter with very little power; he hit a home run less than every 100 at-bats and only 298 doubles in 7680 at-bats. Taylor was pretty fast, which was his primary offensive asset alongside average-at-best singles hitting and patience. In his standout years, 1959, 1960, and 1963, Taylor's batting average was up and his defense was above average. Much of the rest of the time, he was unspectacular.

68. Luis Castillo, Marlins 1996-05, Twins 2006-07, Mets 2007-08
Career WARP3 53.9, Career EqA .266, 6 total seasons 5+ WARP3, 3-time All-Star

A 3-time Gold Glover between 2003 and 2005, those were his best defensive seasons at just above average. For his career, Castillo was a barely below average defensive second baseman. He probably did not deserve his defensive reputation, but he has at least been an acceptable defender during most of his years in the league. Castillo's best attributes are easily his "leadoff attributes": average, patience, and speed. He's in sixth place among active players in steals, 18th in triples, and 16th in singles, all at age 32. Castillo puts balls into play, striking out very little; but has almost no power, hitting about 15 doubles and 2-3 home runs per season. Castillo's a pretty good hitter anywhere outside the middle of the order; the fact that he's got almost no platoon split in his non-power switch-hitting numbers is just a bonus. With Edgar Renteria, Castillo formed the youngest middle infield in National League history--they were both 21 in 1997, though Castillo was hurt in 1997 and missed the postseason and the World Series title. He got his real chance in 2003.

67. Pete Runnels, Senators 1951-57, Red Sox 1958-62, Colt .45s 1963-64
Career WARP3 54.6, Career EqA .268, 2 seasons 7+ WARP3, 3-time All-Star, 6-time MVP vote recipient

Runnels won AL batting titles in 1960 and 1962, narrowly losing out to teammate Ted Williams in the 1958 race. A doubles hitter, Runnels was not a good runner or much of a home run threat, but had excellent on-base ability including a career average of .291 and an OBP of .375. Mostly a shortstop and first baseman with the Senators, he neither hit nor fielded at those positions as well as he did in his Boston years at second base, which is both strange and a clear indication that he was being played well out of position at first for essentially no reason. A below-average defender, Runnels gets on the list because he was a very fine hitter at his best, twice finishing in the league top 10 in OPS+, a rarity for a second baseman.

66. Damion Easley, Angels 1992-96, Tigers 1996-02, Rays 2003, Marlins 2004-05, Diamondbacks 2006, Mets 2007-08
Career WARP3 50.5, Career EqA .260, 2 seasons 8+ WARP3, 1-time All-Star, 1-time Silver Slugger

Easley's two best years, the years he was worth 8 wins and may have been the best second baseman in the AL in 1997-98(Roberto Alomar was having down years), were Detroit's doldrum, early-Comerica years with long fences and even longer odds against much winning. Easley hit 22 and 27 homers despite the long fences. Essentially an average fielder at second, third, and short, Easley has also been an overall average hitter when those two seasons are taken out of the equation. He was good for a little everything: some walks, some steals, some doubles, some homers, and some strikeouts; no surprise there--these were the 1998 Tigers. Easley is proof that hang-around value as a solid infielder with some pop is actually worth something; it won't get you higher up this list unless you have a good peak, but Easley did.

65. Delino DeShields, Expos 1990-93, Dodgers 1994-96, Cardinals 1997-98, Orioles 1999-01, Cubs 2001-02
Career WARP3 57.0, Career EqA .272, 4 total seasons 6+ WARP3

A speed demon with a take-pitches approach and bad-to-ok defense, DeShields was a free agency migrant and leadoff-man-for-hire during 1990s. He sure was fast; his 463 steals are good for 45th all time and his career was practically over by age 31. DeShields' double-play partners read like a who-isn't-who of 1990s shortstops: Spike Owen, Jose Offerman, a cooked old Greg Gagne, Royce Clayton, and Mike Bordick. Bordick and Offerman are both in DeShields' top 10 comparables, though it's not really clear why.

64. Juan Samuel, Phillies 1983-89, Mets 1989, Dodgers 1990-92, Royals 1992, Reds 1993, Tigers 1994-95, Royals 1995, Blue Jays 1996-98
Career WARP3 50.8, Career EqA .270, 1 season 8+ WARP3, 5 total seasons 5+ WARP3, 3-time All-Star, Silver Slugger

A free-swinger's free swinger, Juan Samuel was never outside the top 5 in the league in strikeouts from 1984-1991, leading the league in 1984-1987. A pretty good slugger who hit huge numbers of doubles and quite a few homers, Samuel was probably best during his early career when he was a tremendous baserunner. This was the mid-1980s NL: Tim Raines, Vince Coleman, Willie McGee, and Juan Samuel all tore up the basepaths. Samuel was a rotisserie-league stud, filling columns with runs, RBI, steals, homers while hitting around .260. Unfortunately, he's a bit of a stathead's nightmare: he had no patience, walked very little, and just hacked away at everything for his whole career. Some guys like that get more patient and have a late-career resurgence. Samuel just pretty much sucked after '91, but hung around the big leagues unlike some cooked old players. Samuel's strikeout feats are impressive: he's 52nd all time despite only ~6521 plate appearances.

63. Harold Reynolds, Mariners 1983-92, Orioles 1993, Angels 1994
Career WARP3 43.7, Career EqA .254, 1 season 8+ WARP3, 2 seasons 7+ WARP3, 2-time All-Star, 3-time Gold Glove

The final Baseball Tonight analyst on our list, Harold Reynolds was at least a very good defensive second baseman from 1988-1990, when he won his three Gold Gloves. During his prime he was also an above-average offensive player, though most of his value was from his speed. Not a particularly good hitter for average (.258 career), Harold was a pretty good doubles hitter and would have put up generally superior offensive numbers away from the Kingdome. As it is, Harold's done pretty well for himself, combining defense and offense during his best years to become a strong player for five straight seasons.

62. Mark McLemore, Angels 1986-1990, Indians 1990, Astros 1991, Orioles 1992-94, Rangers 1995-99, Mariners 2000-2003, A's 2004
Career WARP3 61.3, Career EqA .256, 3 seasons 7+ WARP3

McLemore is best known to current fans for his "supersub" role with the Mariners, where he somewhat surprisingly played his best baseball as a 36-year-old utility man. McLemore was an everyday second baseman for most of his late-blooming career, and was excellent defensively despite an uninspiring physical stature and playing most of his games after age 30. A singles hitter with on-base capacity and a good set of wheels, McLemore had career highs in slugging and stolen bases (stealing 39 and only being caught 7 times) at age 36 with the Mariners, bucking every reasonable statistical trend and proving himself to be a much better second-sacker than almost anyone remembers him being.

61. Tom Herr, Cardinals 1979-88, Twins 1988, Phillies 1989-90, Mets 1990-91, Giants 1991
Career WARP3 54.0, Career EqA .268, 1 season 8+ WARP3, 8 total seasons 4+ WARP3, 1-time All-Star

As the double play partner of Ozzie Smith on a team that won a World Series and appeared in two others, Tom Herr is probably more famous than his production would merit by itself. Still, Herr had some very good qualities and good years despite being a slightly-below-average defender and a poke-hitter (.350 career SLG). Herr's best qualities were judicious baserunning (188 steals to 64 caughts), occasional doubles-mashing, and during his best years, walk-drawing. His 1985 season, which got him to 5th in the MVP voting, was a pretty good hitting year (.302/.379/.416) that got him a ton of "80s stats" (RBI and runs) and probably makes up the bulk of his career reputation.


Top 100 Second Basemen: 80-71

Before we continue the countdown, I wanted to mention at least the following about my methodology.

A) A player is associated with a position based on where he played the most career games. Rod Carew is therefore a first baseman, though he played a lot of second base as well.

B) Players who played more than half of their career before the Major League era (i.e. pre-1901) are left off the list. I don't see sufficient evidence to believe that the pre-modern era is really all that comparable to the early major leagues, what with the unbalanced schedules and the nonstandardization of playing conditions. That means, unfortunately, that the following players who were in many cases really good have been left off the list of second basemen:

Cupid Childs
Bobby Lowe
Hardy Richardson
Kid Gleason
Bid McPhee
Fred Dunlap
Tom Daly
Fred Pfeffer
Yank Robinson

There is little doubt that McPhee would crack the top 20, and that Childs would be in the top 40, if I felt their numbers could really be trusted.

C) Negro league-only players are out. This is lamentable, but there is such a dearth of data. That said, Jackie Robinson is receiving some credit for his Negro League play--he was so great in the majors that it is obvious he was a good player without them.

On to 80-71!

80. Buck Herzog, Giants 1908-09, Braves 1910-11, Giants 1911-13, Reds 1914-16, Giants 1916-17, Braves 1918-19, Cubs 1919-20
Career WARP3 46.9, Career EqA .253, 1 season 8+ WARP3, 1 season 6+ WARP3

Like earlier listmate Bucky Harris, with whom he also shares a nickname, Charles Lincoln Herzog became a "boy manager" of the Reds at 29, managing the team for his three years in Cincinnati. For whatever reason -- probably because he was 29 and 30 and peaking -- Herzog had his very best years in his full seasons in Cincy, fielding 15 and 11 runs above average while hitting .281 and .264 and stealing a fair number of bases. Basestealing statistics from this era are difficult; the NL *did* record caught stealing in 1915 and 1916, but not in the years around it, so we have to just assume that a guy like Herzog got caught a little less than when he was 31 during those years. He was one of the best in the league in terms of total steals, coming in between 5th and 2nd six times between 1911 and 1919, and he hit with a little bit of power. Overall Herzog appears to have been a well-rounded player with good speed and average everything else. Why he could never stay with a team, and why they always kept bringing him back, is not clear to me. Bill James would know.

79. Jim Lefebvre, Dodgers 1965-72
Career WARP3 35.8, Career EqA .270, 1 season 9+ WARP3, 1 season 8+ WARP3, Rookie of the Year, 1-time All Star

Lefebvre would be remembered by more recent fans as the guy who got kicked off the Dodgers coaching staff for trying to punch Tommy Lasorda. Who among us hasn't wanted to punch Tommy Lasorda? Okay, maybe it's just me. Lest we forget, though, Lefebvre's career in 1965 and 1966 started with a big, Chase Utley-like bang. In his rookie 1965 season, Lefebvre played above-average defense and hit .250/.337/.369 at Chavez Ravine. That doesn't look outstanding, but translating those numbers to the all-time average shows .273/.367/.430. His 24-homer season in 1966 was even better: .274/.333/.460 which is really more like .296/.367/.542 -- totally badass for a second baseman. The Dodgers moved him to third base, where he was below average, then back to second, where he persisted in being above average; a clear argument for playing guys in the right position. Lefebvre now coaches international baseball teams, including recently the Chinese national team at the 2006 World Baseball Classic. I wonder how the Chinese pronounce his name.

78. Adam Kennedy, Cardinals 1999, Angels 2000-06, Cardinals 2007-08
Career WARP3 45.3, Career EqA .257, 1 season 8+ WARP3, 7 total seasons 4+ WARP3

Adam Kennedy is a very consistent player, in terms of total value. Only in his post-prime last two years in St. Louis has he not been worth 4 wins a season, and he was usually worth more. Kennedy is closely associated with basemate David Eckstein; they are nearly the same age, played together a lot, and have accumulated roughly the same amount of value in their careers. If anything, Kennedy is better than Eckstein even though the tiny Eck gets more press. Kennedy's best year was in 2002, a fortuitous year that saw the Angels win the Series and Kennedy hit .312. Kennedy has been a great postseason performer in 78 at-bats, hitting .308/.317/.526, showing power that he rarely shows during the regular season and a dearth of walks that has unfortunately always held down his value as a player. However, fairly good hitting and speed and generally great defense make Kennedy a player worth remembering, at least before he turned 31.

77. Randy Velarde, Yankees 1987-95, Angels 1996-99, A's 1999-2000, Rangers 2001, Yankees 2001, A's 2002
Career WARP3 50.3, Career EqA .273, 1 season 10+ WARP3, 2 seasons 6+ WARP3

Most players' defensive value decreases significantly as they age. SuperUtility man Randy Velarde, whose 630 games at 2nd only make up half of his career, was pretty much an average defender for his whole career, though the years he got to play second almost exclusively were his best defensive seasons and may bolster an argument for sticking a guy in a position and leaving him there. Still, the Bill Hall of his era was horribly underutilized and underappreciated; he has a lifetime OPS+ of 101, which is very good for a middle infielder, and yet was only able to get ~4707 plate appearances and 1273 games in parts of 16 Major League seasons. Velarde has been wasted, at short, second, and third, for Mike Gallego, Pat Kelly, Andy Stankiewicz, and Charlie Hayes, among others. The main reason is probably because this late bloomer got pigeonholed as a backup and utilityman instead of the well-rounded average/homers/walks hitter that he was. His career looks a little like Mark DeRosa's, actually. Velarde's 10-wins-above-replacement season was actually the '99 campaign split between the Angels and the A's, where he hit in total .317/.390/.455 while hitting 16 homers and stealing 24 bases in a Jeter-like season...with above-average defense. Velarde would be much higher on this list if he had just been allowed to go out there and play more. As it was, his signature highlight might be his unassisted triple play in 2000, of the rare catch-tag-touch 2nd variety. All of this said, he was one of the "named names" in the Mitchell report...but I stand by the statement that he would have been productive *throughout* his career if given a chance.

76. Rennie Stennett, Pirates 1971-79, Giants 1980-81
Career WARP3 41.4, Career EqA .240, 2 seasons 8+ WARP3

Renaldo Antonio Stennett of Colon, Panama was an excellent defensive second baseman at his best, worth 20 runs above average for three straight seasons 1974-76. He peaked early, crashing out of the league before his 31st birthday, but had some memorable moments along the way: the We Are Fam-A-Lee 1979 Series winners (for whom he didn't play much in the postseason), an injury-shortened 1977 season that he finished hitting .336, and one insanely rare hitting performance. On September 16, 1975, the Pirates thrashed the Cubs 22-0 in the largest shutout victory in the modern era. In that nine-inning game, Rennie Stennett went 7-for-7, making him the only modern player to do so in nine innings. Still, it's definitely the glove more than the bat that moves Rennie up our list; he rarely walked or hit home runs, and only slugged .400 once, in 1977.

75. Marcus Giles, Braves 2001-06, Padres 2007
Career WARP3 41.5, Career EqA .275, 1 season 11+ WARP3, 1 season 9+ WARP3, 1-time All Star

It is unclear if Giles will right the ship after an abysmal hitting year in 2007, but here's the catch: he is a vastly underrated, well-above-average defender at second base. If someone realizes this, Giles may just find his way back to a modestly productive career. Giles' best season was of course his 2003 MVP-caliber year, overshadowed by teammates Javy Lopez and Gary Sheffield but worth 11 wins above replacement level, an epic all-time year for second basemen. Giles was no slouch in 2005 either. Though not a walk machine like brother Brian, Marcus was during his good years a solid on-base player, a good power hitter, a good defender, and a good baserunner. The only knocks on him from a total-career standpoint are (a) that he strikes out too much and (b) he seems to have fallen off the face of the earth. I would invite him to training camp tomorrow if I had a choice.

74. Mark Grudzielanek, Expos 1995-98, Dodgers 1998-02, Cubs 2003-04, Cardinals 2005, Royals 2006-08
Career WARP3 61.3, Career EqA .255, 7 total seasons 4+ WARP3, 1-time All Star

While I've declared a preference for guys who have had excellent or great seasons in their career, there has to be a place on the list for consistent guys who played well for a large number of years. Grudzielanek is exactly that sort of player: a shortstop-turned-2B who never really has had a bad year. His averages, OBP, and slugging all hover around his lifetime .290/.332/.395, he is a career 6 runs above average as a fielder, and he is basically a consistent league-average second baseman in every way. Grudzielanek has been alternately maligned (early in his career with the Expos) and then lauded for his defensive play (later with the Royals) when in fact he's been pretty much average pretty much always. His best season may actually be 2008, as he's hitting .305 with better OBP than usual and playing some of the best defense of his career. He'll be soon winding down an unremarkable, but remarkably steady, career as a middle infielder. It bears mentioning that Grudzielanek was traded to the Cubs by the Dodgers in a horrible deal that the Cubs won utterly, by shipping the cooked Todd Hundley and the awful Chad Hermansen for Grudzielanek and Eric Karros, both of whom had productive years in helping the 2003 Cubs to the postseason.

73. Marty McManus, Browns 1920-26, Tigers 1927-31, Red Sox 1931-33, Braves 1934
Career WARP3 60.7, Career EqA .259, 3 seasons 6+ WARP3, 4-time MVP vote recipient

Much like Grudzielanek, McManus was average or just above at both hitting and defense for most of a long career. During his breakout 1922 season, he hit .312/.358/.459, which today would be worth less in the average department but about the same in terms of slugging; that was his best year. McManus was a bit different from most of the 2B's of his era; perhaps that's unsurprising because he also played 700 games at third. He was a slugger type: he hit double digit home runs four times, and exactly 9 homers three times. Playing in a modern park, a lot of his doubles and triples would turn into homers; he'd have 250 in his career. McManus was basically an average fielder, and loses a little bit of value because his hitting at third base wasn't worth as much as his hitting at second. A more modern-type player, his career comparables include Carney Lansford, Ray Durham, and Edgar Renteria. He could appear higher than this, if only he'd had one memorable season. McManus managed the South Bend Blue Sox of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League from 1944-1948.

72. George Grantham, Cubs 1922-24, Pirates 1925-31, Reds 1932-33, Giants 1934
Career WARP3 55.7, Career EqA .284, 3 seasons 6+ WARP3, 4 seasons 5+ WARP3

Grantham, who played 500 games at first as well as over 700 at second, was a really good hitter. His numbers (.302/.392/.461, translating to .264/.370/.456) look a little worse when viewed in the context of his era, but the guy could mash homers, triples, and doubles in addition to hitting for average. Hence, he's got the highest EqA of anyone on the list so far. What hurts Grantham is that he spent so many games at first, thus providing less value at an easier fielding position. He wasn't a particularly bad fielder at second, 33 runs below average in 848 games, but he had a short enough career that he couldn't accumulate the kinds of numbers that tend to move you up the list. A mainstay of the Traynor/Waner/Waner Pirates (so fun to say like that) of the 1920s, Grantham appeared in two World Series and won one. He would have been an excellent fantasy baseball player: lots of steals and homers at a scarce position that wasn't as scarce then as it is today. Somewhere around the number 70 on the list, we transition from guys who were pretty good to guys who were damn good, and Grantham may be more in the damn good category. Again, he's hurt by his first base playing and his lack of any special seasons.

71. Glenn Hubbard, Braves 1978-87, A's 1988-89
Career WARP3 49.2, Career EqA .249, 1 season 7+ WARP3, 1 season 6+ WARP3, 1-time All Star

Almost entirely associated with the mostly-bad Braves teams of the 1970s and 1980s, Hubbard was not much with a bat. However, his consistently excellent defense alongside the likes of Rafael Ramirez, Andres Thomas, and Luis Gomez was more than enough to make up for his rather poor batting. Presumably because he batted eighth, Hubbard managed to appear among the NL leaders in intentional walks in 1986 and 1987. This padded Hubbard's walk totals, making him look like a better on-base player in those days; why managers saw fit to ever walk someone hitting .230 and slugging .304 in 1986 remains a mystery. Atlanta's many pitchers that season averaged about .185, which is worse but not that much worse.


Correction and Note

The 1933 Giants were not, in fact, the worst-hitting double-play combo to ever win a World Series, though they come in second. In fact, the 1916 Red Sox with 2B Jack Barry's 51 OPS+ and SS Everett Scott's 73 OPS+ averaging a 62, slightly worse than the Giants.

Out of curiosity, I found that the 1948 Indians had the best-hitting double-play combo of all World Series winners, with 2B Joe Gordon's 134 and SS Lou Boudreau's 164.

Top 100 Second Basemen: 90-81

90. Cass Michaels, White Sox 1943-50, Senators 1950-52, Browns 1952, Athletics 1952-53, White Sox 1954
Career WARP3 36.7, Career EqA .253, 1 season 10+ WARP3, 2-time All-Star

Casimir Eugiene Kwietniewski, a.k.a. Cass Michaels, had one of the top 100 seasons ever by a second baseman in 1949. He fielded a little better than his career average (+10 in a -42 season with one bad year), which bolstered his total, but his hitting was really exemplary. Mashing 6 home runs at Comiskey, which would be about 20 today, was one thing; but it was the .308 average and .417 OBP that really made this season one of the best one-hit-wonder seasons in history. Generally Michaels was a slightly below-average fielder who was good at drawing walks and stole a few bases in an era where no one did. Though he played 11 seasons starting at age 17, Michaels' continued career was robbed of him by a bean ball from Marion Fricano of the Athletics at age 28. While he never had a season even close to '49, that massive year and a career .253 EqA was enough to put him on this list.

89. Jose Vidro, Expos/Nationals 1997-2006, Mariners 2007-2008

Career WARP3 42.6, Career EqA .276, 1 season 7+ WARP3, 1 season 6+ WARP3, Three-time All-Star, Silver Slugger

Vidro, at one point the "-two" in the Expos' one-two punch including Vladimir Guerrero, has never been even an average fielder in any season (-86 career fielding runs above average). If he were, he'd be much higher on the list, but as it is he's hit his way into the top 90. A well-rounded hitter, Vidro hits for average (.298 career) and power (.445 career slugging), though his power has shown up more in doubles than in homers. He hit .300 for 5 straight years from 1999-2003, in salad days whose value was mitigated by his relatively inept fielding. He's an oddball player, though; he hit well for the Mariners as a DH, but how valuable is a DH who hits .314 while slugging .394? Vidro is a great example of what happens when a player is a good hitter at a tough fielding position, but not so good he can really play an easier position and still be an All-Star. He may yet stage some late-career heroics and move up the list; he's logged 1000+ games at second, so he won't have to move positions historically.

88. Jorge Orta, White Sox 1972-79, Indians 1980-81, Dodgers 1982, Blue Jays 1983, Royals 1984-1987
Career WARP3 42.8, Career EqA .272, 1 season 7+ WARP3, 1 season 6+ WARP3, 2-time All-Star

Jorge Orta is almost the exact same player as Jose Vidro once you adjust for era. A complete disaster most of the time in the field, Orta was a good enough hitter to become the leading Mexican major league home run hitter of all time for 10 years until Vinny Castilla broke his record, then broke it all over on his way to 360. Orta would have slugged .500 somewhat regularly in the mid-1970s if such a thing had been possible then; as it was, he hit for average and power, didn't walk enough, but stole some bases to make up for it. Double-digit runs above average at second base were common for Orta, who late in his career was a pinch-hitter on the Royals' World Series champs. It is fun to mention that his double-play partner on the Sox was Bucky Bleeping Dent, nearly his polar opposite in terms of hitting-defense balance.

87. Ted Sizemore, Dodgers 1969-70, Cardinals 1971-75, Dodgers 1976, Phillies 1977-78, Cubs 1979, Red Sox 1979-80
Career WARP3 40.4, Career EqA .239, 1 season 7+ WARP3, 1 season 6+ WARP3, Rookie of the Year

Al Oliver probably should have been the Rookie of the Year in 1969, as Sizemore hadn't really come into his own as a fielder yet. Generally above average, he had two very slick fielding years in 1973 and 1974 as the double-play partner of Mike Tyson (not that one). In those years, Sizemore's good eye was on display, as he walked twice as much as he struck out. Not striking out might have been his best ability as a hitter, unfortunately; career highs of 23 doubles, 4 homers, and 54 RBI attest to his relative impotence at the plate. Sizemore played with a large number of second-tier shortstops, many of whom became managers. He played with Maury Wills, Bill Russell, Larry Bowa, and Dal Maxvill.

86. Julian Javier, Cardinals 1960-1971, Reds 1972
Career WARP3 49.4, Career EqA .240, 1 season 7+ WARP3, 3 seasons 5+ WARP3, 2-time All-Star

Julian Javier was Ted Sizemore's immediate predecessor at second for the Cards, and received more recognition than Sizemore despite not being a significantly better player. Javier had abysmal patience, drawing less than one walk every five games played, although he could whack a little bit (2 seasons of 10+ home runs). Javier's value is primarily as a fielder; he was Gold Glove-quality in 2 seasons and above average in the rest. Javier played in four World Series, winning two; he hit 18 for 54 with four doubles, for a lifetime .333/368/.463 postseason line. There is something amusing in the fact that after he was old and riding the bench, he still got to the Series with the Reds as Joe Morgan's little-used backup. The strength of his Cards teams was never really the middle infield; Lou Brock, Curt Flood, Ken Boyer, Tim McCarver and Orlando Cepeda made sure of that. His son Stan was an underrated leadoff/fast outfielder type who played for basically everyone throughout the 80s and 90s.

85. Fernando Vina, Mariners 1993, Mets 1994, Brewers 1995-1999, Cardinals 2000-2003, Tigers 2004
Career WARP3 39.6, Career EqA .255, 2 seasons 7+ WARP3, 1-time All-Star

The second but not last Baseball Tonight announcer on the list, Vina was above average as a fielder and just a touch below average as a hitter. During his best year, 1998, he hit .311/.386/.427 for the Brewers while fielding just around average, in the only year he had an above-league-average OPS. Still, a second baseman with an above-league-average OPS is a pretty good thing, especially when his power was all doubles: his 39 that year were one less than his career home run total. Vina was a patient hitter and a halfway-decent baserunner, and with shortstop Jose Valentin was one of the bright lights on the unspectacular league-switching Brewers teams of the 1990s. A hit-by-pitch fiend a la Craig Biggio, Vina gets a lot of credit for leadership and intangibles from teammates and the press. His career postseason line of .333/.364/.460 in 2000-2002 shows he was helping the Cardinals even though they couldn't make a World Series until right after he left.

84. Don Blasingame, Cardinals 1955-59, Giants 1960-61, Reds 1961-63, Senators 1963-66, Athletics 1966
Career WARP3 41.2, Career EqA .241, 1 season 8+ WARP3, 1-time All-Star

In 4 players, we have 20 straight and 24 total years of Cardinals keystone-sackers. A player of the tumultuous Westward Expansion era, Blasingame played for everybody. His 1957 season was outstanding, as he turned in a Gold Glove-level fielding performance and hit .271/.343/.368, stealing 21 bases and scoring 108 runs. Blasingame had no power, but provided some solid fieldwork and strung together enough good seasons with the Stan Musial teams to be worthy of mention here. His nickname was Blazer, which has led me to wonder whether I have been pronouncing his name incorrectly (short A?).

83. Felix Millan, Braves 1966-1972, Mets 1973-1977
Career WARP3 43.2, Career EqA .247, 1 season 7+ WARP3, 2 seasons 6+ WARP3, 3-time All-Star

The first Brave to really start his career in Atlanta, Millan was a rookie on the 1966 team that had just moved from Milwaukee. Millan appears to have been a slightly overrated fielder; he was never truly outstanding and was only slightly above average until the end of his career when, like everyone, he plummeted. Felix the Kitten was a hit-for-average guy who was basically not patient, leading the league in at-bats per strikeout 4 times while walking quite rarely. A fun anecdote: Millan had a great game and got 4 singles on July 21, 1975. Each time he appeared on base, Joe Torre grounded into a double play, setting the single-game record for GIDP. Millan hit .306 in 325 games for the Taiyo Whales of the Japanese Central League after the end of his MLB career.

82. Johnny Temple, Reds 1952-59, Indians 1960-61, Orioles 1962, Colt .45's 1962-63, Reds 1964
Career WARP3 44.6, Career EqA .263, 1 season 7+ WARP3, 2 seasons 6+ WARP3, 4-time All-Star

Temple was a solid leadoff man, a no-power guy who hit singles and walked without striking out much. A percentage-player type, he was a great light hitter; think Biggio without any power. The Biggio comparison, unfortunately, continues to be apt because Temple killed his career value with below-average defense (108 runs below average for his career). Still, he compiled OBPs above .380 four times in his career and set the table for...well...really only for Frank Robinson. Temple scored more than 100 runs only once, and that was not his fault; he was a good base-stealer in a running-free era.

81. Ronnie Belliard, Brewers 1998-2002, Rockies 2003, Indians 2004-06, Cardinals 2006, Nationals 2007-08
Career WARP3 43.1, Career EqA .262, 1 season 8+ WARP3, 2 seasons 6+ WARP3, 1-time All-Star

A journeyman who has never played for a real contender in a full season, Belliard has combined just-above-average hitting with just-above-average fielding enough to surpass many of the other second basemen who are weak in one of the two areas. Belliard is an impatient guy who doesn't walk enough, but he packs a lot of pop for a middle infielder, especially when it comes to doubles. In 2005 he combined 17 home runs with a gold-glove caliber year in the field (his best) to put up a great season. As a late-season pickup by the Cardinals, Belliard won the 2006 World Series, hitting very well against the Padres in the NLDS but going 0-for-12 in the Series itself. Then it was off to the Nationals, where Belliard still slugs at a solid clip. If he's got some years at second left in him, Belliard can move up this list.