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.

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