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).