The Top 100 Second Basemen of All-Time
#1. Rogers Hornsby
Years: 1915-1937 Primary Team: St. Louis Cardinals
Bill James is the only baseball historian to rate anyone other than Hornsby #1 among second basemen. He has Joe Morgan and Eddie Collins, in that order, listed ahead of The Rajah. I'm inclined to agree with him, but I can't ignore that the statistical record, and our ratings system, still shows Hornsby with an edge over Collins and Little Joe.
The three (Hornsby, Collins, and Morgan) tower above the rest of the second base field. The gap between Morgan, who I have ranked third, and the fourth spot, is the same as the gap between #4 and #17. You could take the careers of any two players below #24 on this list and add them together and not equal the value of Hornsby, Collins, or Morgan.
Each of the top six second basemen were important to teams that won championships. Hornsby is the only one who was a player/manager for a team that won a World Series. Hornsby played for two pennant-winning teams and averaged 7.4 WAR. Collins averaged 7.5 in six pennant seasons, Morgan 8.3 in four, Jackie Robinson averaged 5.9 WAR in six pennant-winning seasons, Gehringer was very good too, with 6.7 WAR for three Detroit flag winners. But Chase Utley beats them all, with an 8.6 WAR average in the two seasons his Phils won the pennant.
File this under the "What do I have to do to get some respect?" file: a few years back the Oklahoma City Dodgers updated their ballpark by adding large photos of famous ballplayers with an Oklahoma connection. Hornsby played one season for a minor league team in Hugo, OK. But the photo was reversed and showed the Hall of Famer swinging the bat lefthanded.
#2. Eddie Collins
Years: 1906-1930 Primary Team: Chicago White Sox
The position players who got the biggest ratings boost because of their post-season performance: Reggie Jackson, George Brett, Babe Ruth, Home Run Baker, Mickey Mantle, and Eddie Collins. In the 34 most important games of his career, Collins got on base 53 times, scored 20 runs, and stole 14 bases while leading his teams to four titles in six Fall Classics. Had there been a World Series MVP award back then, he would have won it three times. He was a superb leader: his teams won four of the five World Series that they were trying to win (crooked teammates cost him a fifth title with the White Sox in 1919).
#3. Joe Morgan
Years: 1963-1984 Primary Team: Cincinnati Reds
Had Morgan played in the 1930s he would have been a player/manager like Hornsby, Collins, and Frisch. Someone once did a study which showed that second basemen made the best managers. Several of the greatest managers played the position: Sparky Anderson, Tony Larussa, Bucky Harris, and Gene Mauch all rank in the top 12 all-time in wins. Then there's Earl Weaver, Billy Martin, Miller Huggins, and Davey Johnson. Among the great second basemen, there are a number of them who never managed, like Morgan, who would have probably made good managers: Jackie Robinson and Chase Utley for example. Several more may someday join the list of good managers to come from the position, like Ryne Sandberg and Ian Kinsler.
#4. Jackie Robinson
Years: 1947-1956 Primary Team: Brooklyn Dodgers
There are similarities between Jackie Robinson and Ichiro Suzuki. Both played professional baseball for seven years before getting chance to appear in the major leagues. Robinson was 28 when he broke the color barrier, Ichiro was 27 when he became the first Japanese position player. Both led their league in stolen bases in their first season, Robinson scored 125 runs, Ichiro scored 127. Both were impact players immediately, leading their teams to the postseason. Ichiro won the Rookie of the Year Award (named after Robinson), and Jackie was fifth in MVP voting in his rookie year. Ichiro was named MVP as a rookie. Both Robinson and Ichiro played the game with a smooth quality that had never been seen before. Both had their last great season when they were 35. Had Ichiro gotten to the majors sooner, he probably would have set the record for hits, had Robinson gotten to the big leagues sooner, he would have won another MVP or two and challenged Hornsby as the best to ever play the position. Both Robinson and Ichiro deserve to be moved up on our rankings based on what they would have done, and it lifts Robinson to #4 here.
#5. Rod Carew
Years: 1967-1985 Primary Team: Minnesota Twins
Carew played 1,184 games at first base and 1,130 at second base, so it takes some deliberation before ranking him among the greats at any one position. We decided to rate him at second base. Carew was never a very good defender at second: his range was not that great despite being quick; he had a weak throwing arm; and he was not comfortable turning the double play. Carew was one of those athletes who was naturally talented at scoring. If it was baseball he was a great hitter, if it was soccer, he was the goal scorer, if it was basketball he was the star point guard. But sometimes that guy didn't take care of business as well on the defensive side of the ball. That was Carew. He was the best bunter of his generation.
#6. Charlie Gehringer
Years: 1924-1942 Primary Team: Detroit Tigers
Among the second basemen, Rogers Hornsby was the best pure hitter, Joe Morgan was the most complete offensive package, and Gehringer was probably the best all-around player. He hit for high average, ran the bases well, was a very good fielder (better than Hornsby and Morgan), and had a strong arm. The only flaw in Charlie's game was that he didn't hit the long ball. Gehringer was one of the few players who was "discovered" by Ty Cobb. When Cobb was player/manager of the Tigers in the 1920s, he was given a tip about Gehringer, who grew up just west of Detroit. After seeing young Charlie play, Cobb insisted that the Tigers sign him to a minor league deal. Two years later he was in the Detroit lineup with Cobb. Gehringer once told the story of how Cobb urged him to buy stock in General Motors and Coca-Cola. "But none of us had any money," Gehringer said, "so we couldn't follow his advice."
#7. Chase Utley
Years: 2003-2017 Primary Team: Philadelphia Phillies
Why is Chase Utley underrated? Or is it better to ask why he's so underappreciated? Because even people who acknowledge he's been a fine second baseman, aren't aware that he rates among the best second basemen of all-time. That he deserves to rate higher than several Hall of Famers. Utley has had a better career than Frankie Frisch and Ryne Sandberg. Better than Roberto Alomar and Craig Biggio and Billy Herman, all great players. He ranks ahead of the two non-Hall of Fame second basemen who get the most support for induction: Bobby Grich and Lou Whitaker. But how is that possible when he's likely to conclude his career with fewer than 2,000 hits, less than 1,200 runs scored or RBIs? When Utley has a career batting average below .280? The answer lies in the fact that Utley is a near perfect baseball player. He's not the offensive machine that Rogers Hornsby was. He's not the defensive wizard that Alomar was. He's not a stolen base merchant like Eddie Collins. He's not a pure home run hitter like Jeff Kent. He wasn't as durable as Charlie Gehringer or play or draw as many walks as Joe Morgan. But he was excellent at everything --- and we mean everything. Combine that with his two greatest strengths and you have one of the ten greatest second baseman in the history of baseball.
Let's start with his excellence. Utley is one of the best baserunners in baseball history. At his peak he was taking the extra base as much as anyone ever has, close to 70 percent of the time (going from-first-to-third on a single, first-to-home on a double, or second-to-home on a single). His stolen base percentage is the highest in history, and once over a four year stretch he was successful on 61 of 64 attempts. Utley rarely made a mental mistake in the field, he made two throwing errors in one four-year stretch and led the NL in chances per game by second basemen six times. Utley only once topped 200 hits, but he got on base a helluva lot. He averaged 265 times on base per season for his career entering 2018. But he did some of that under the normal radar: walking or getting hit by a pitch 100 times per season. There are still many folks who think a man gets on base via the hit. Utley has been hit by a pitch more than 200 times. Utley is also an excellent bunter and was one of the most aggressive baserunners of his era. Again, you name it, Utley is really, really good at it.
Now for his greatest strengths: first, Utley is one of the best second basemen at converting groundballs into outs and he's excellent at turning the double play. His defensive skill in the middle of the infield was a great assistance to the pitchers on his teams. Second, Utley was one of the five best power hitters to ever play second. In four consecutive seasons he had at least 70 extra-base hits, and his career slugging percentage, the rate stat that is perhaps the most indicative of a great hitter, is topped by only Hornsby, Kent, Robinson Cano, Gehringer, and Jackie Robinson.
Utley's 5-year peak, according to WAR, ranks sixth all-time for second basemen, and his top three seasons also rank sixth. His top seven seasons rank ninth. But he also played more than 1,800 games and topped more than 65 WAR for his career (and was still adding to that total at the age of 39 in 2018). The peak separates him from Whitaker, Frisch, Sandberg, and Grich, players who all racked up more value for their careers. Utley's career total pushes him past Joe Gordon, who had a shorter career, and even when we adjust Gordon's numbers for the time he missed during WWII, Utley remains slightly ahead of Flash.
The top twenty second basemen are packed into four groups: there are the elite (Hornsby, Collins, and Morgan); then comes a small second group of Robinson, Carew, and Gehringer; followed by a large group of nine players that includes Gordon, Cano, Grich, Frisch, Sandberg, Lajoie, Alomar, and Whitaker. Utley is atop that list, which are tightly grouped together by value. Then there's a group of five (Biggio, Randolph, Herman, Kinsler, and Pedroia) that fills out the top twenty. Everyone in that final group has something, a flaw or possibly two, in their game.
#8. Joe Gordon
Years: 1938-1950 Primary Team: New York Yankees
Joe Gordon was the greatest defensive second baseman in the history of the game, according to the most sophisticated statistical tools we have at our disposal. In addition, witnesses who saw him play were equally impressed.
It's amazing that Gordon wasn't inducted into the Hall of Fame until 2009, 58 years after his last game and 31 years after his death. He received MVP votes in eight of his 11 seasons, was an All-Star nine times, retired as the all-time homer leader at his position, and during his career he was universally acclaimed as the best defender at second. He missed two prime seasons due to service in World War II. When he was finally honored in Cooperstown in 2009, his daughter said, "He insisted against having a funeral, and as such, we consider Cooperstown and the National Baseball Hall of Fame as his final resting place to be honored forever."
#9. Bobby Grich
Years: 1970-1986 Primary Team: California Angels
Bobby Doerr wasn't elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame until he was an old man. Joe Gordon was long dead when he was finally inducted into the Hall of Fame. Lou Whitaker will probably never get his honor in Cooperstown even though his double play partner, who was almost exactly as valuable as he was during their careers, was elected. The Veterans Committee should do their homework and award Bobby Grich for a great career by putting his name where it belongs: among the greatest second basemen in history as a Hall of Famer. Do it while he's alive, it'll make for a better speech.
#10. Frankie Frisch
Years: 1919-1937 Primary Team: New York Giants
Frisch is one of the most important people in the history of baseball who is virtually unknown to most modern fans. In college he was one of the most famous athletes in the country, starring in four sports at Fordham University: basketball, track, football, and baseball. When he signed with John McGraw's New York Giants at the age of 20 it was a huge story, sort of like a blue chip quarterback getting drafted today. He immediately made an impact, finishing third in stolen bases as a rookie and sparking the offense for the G-Men. Within a year, McGraw made Frisch team captain, and he essentially served as a manager on the field the remainder of his career. Just about everything he did on the field was flashy and made headlines. When he was traded to the Cardinals it was for Rogers Hornsby, the greatest second baseman of all-time. Frisch received MVP votes in nine of 12 seasons from 1924-1935. He won the award in 1931 for St. Louis.
In 1933 he became player/manager of the Cardinals, whom he guided to a World Championship the following season. He was the second baseman for the National League in the first three All-Star games and he was among the highest paid players in the league for much of his career.
Like Eddie Collins, Frisch was at his best in the postseason. He was a key player in eight World Series. In the 1922 Series against the Yankees he batted .471 with eight hits in five games. The next fall he punished Yankee pitching again to the tune of .400 (10-for-25) in six games.
Following his retirement as a player at the age of 38, Frisch managed for over a decade. He never had the same success as strictly a manager, but he still had a .514 winning percentage for his career. In 1947 he was elected to the Hall of Fame. As a Hall of Famer he was hugely influential in the voting process of the veterans committee for years. Frisch outlived most of his enemies, and as the years passed he slipped several of his former teammates into the Hall of Fame. The list of Frisch inductees includes Dave Bancroft, Chick Hafey, Jesse Haines, George Kelly, Rube Marquard, Ross Youngs, and Jim Bottomley. These inductees are among the very worst in Cooperstown, and Frisch should be blamed for them, but he still deserves to be remembered as a brilliant second baseman, a World Champion player/manager, and an historic figure in the game.
#11. Ryne Sandberg
Years: 1981-1997 Primary Team: Chicago Cubs
Who had the more valuable career, Ryne Sandberg or Lou Whitaker? Each was an All-Star many times while winning Gold Gloves and Silver Sluggers, but they never faced each other because they were in opposite leagues. Sandberg did more eye-popping things: he won an MVP Award, he hit 40 homers, he stole as many as 54 bases. He also won nine straight Gold Gloves. Whitaker never had a monster season like Ryno, but he had several seasons (nine to be exact) where he posted an OPS+ of at least 120 and he had an amazing ten seasons of 4 or more WAR (Sandberg had seven). Whitaker led his league in games played, and that's it. He did win the Rookie of the Year Award and he collected 206 hits and batted .320 one season. But mostly, Whitaker plugged along hitting .275 or so with 165 hits, 80 walks, and 15-20 homers per season. Sandberg produced eight more extra-base hits and swiped 16 more bases per season. Whitaker walked 24 more times per year, hence the advantage each shared in slugging percentage and on-base percentage, respectively. When we adjust for ballpark effect, Whitaker comes out ahead: 116 OPS+ to 114 for Sandberg. That's an indication of how much Wrigley Field helped Sandberg's numbers, which they certainly did. In their road games, Whitaker was the better hitter: .762 OPS to Sandberg's .738. There are those stolen bases, though, about 200 more for Ryno than Sweet Lou. But Whitaker accumulated his stats over 700 more plate appearances, so he has that. In the end, the formula rates Sandberg ahead of Whitaker just barely, because of his greater peak value.
#12. Roberto Alomar
Years: 1988-2004 Primary Team: Toronto Blue Jays
Through 2015, only 58 times in baseball history has a second baseman played at least 130 games in a season where he was older than 34. Nearly all of those seasons were mediocre or terrible. Only Tom Daly, Nap Lajoie, Eddie Collins, Rogers Hornsby (one season), Charlie Gehringer, Joe Morgan, Lou Whitaker, Jeff Kent, and Chase Utley (two seasons) defied father time by having good seasons after their 34th birthday. Alomar had a .698 OPS after the age of 34, which is pretty typical for a middle infielder, if they are still in the game at all.
#13. Lou Whitaker
Years: 1977-1995 Primary Team: Detroit Tigers
Of those who only played second base, who never switched to another position to extend their career, Lou Whitaker played the longest. He was 38 when he retired and he was still a fine ballplayer. He had the best final three seasons of any second baseman in history, though of course by that time he was essentially a platoon player. Nevertheless, when he retired he was doing everything he was good at: covering ground at second, drawing walks, hitting for power, and driving in runs.
Whitaker was never that much interested in being a designated hitter, and his personality didn't fit that role (he became distracted quite easily), which is too bad, because he could have been a valuable platoon player for a couple more seasons and padded his career stats a bit. But, he'd made his money and he went home rather than play for someone other than Detroit.
Early in his career, Whitaker was one of the fastest players in the league, but he ran funny. As a kid he'd been pigeon-toed, and he still carried that with him onto the diamond: he had a tip-toe gate to his stride that made it seem like he wasn't running as fast as he was. A longtime teammate of Whitaker's told me that he never saw Sweet Lou work much on base stealing, and that he refused to get signs or send signs to teammates on the bases. Whitaker was talented but didn't care much about working on the details of the game. That's the biggest difference between he and his double play partner, Alan Trammell. But in spite of not having much use for honing his skills, Whitaker was a great player. His raw talent was that good.
#14. Nap Lajoie
Years: 1896-1916 Primary Team: Cleveland Naps
Lajoie had a way of gliding toward the ball, like Cal Ripken Jr. did. He was a tall man but graceful, with a strong arm. He had some peculiar habits in the field: he liked to take his glove with him to the dugout between innings, shunning the practice at the time of tossing the glove into short right field between innings; and he liked to use a new glove each summer, breaking it in by coating it with oil and twisting and bending the leather until it was soft and pliable; he also removed the wrist strap so he could keep the glove low on his wrist, giving him more reach. It worked for him: he led his league in fielding several times.
Lajoie's career nearly ended when he was 30 years old in 1905 after a terrible spiking incident. An opposing runner slashed his leg at second base and the resulting wound became severely infected. Doctors discussed the possibility of amputating Lajoie's leg, but the infection cleared up although Nap missed the remainder of the season after June. He led the league in hits and doubles the following season and had 1,700 more hits after the injury.
As far as I can tell, only three players have had teams named after them: Cleveland became the Indians because of Louis Sockalexis, a Penobscot Indian; Brooklyn adopted "Robins" because of manager Wilbert Robinson; and Cleveland was dubbed the "Naps" for their second base star.
#15. Craig Biggio
Years: 1988-2007 Primary Team: Houston Astros
The career of Craig Biggio breaks down like this: four years as a catcher, 14 as a second baseman, and two as an outfielder. He was an All-Star as both a catcher and second baseman. Like most second baseman, Biggio hit the wall at age 34, which is why he was asked to play center field by the Astros. He wasn't a particularly great outfielder, but he played every day and continued to churn out doubles and score runs. How much should postseason success or lack of, affect the ranking? The answer: it depends. In Biggio's case, he played in 40 post-season games, or 1/4 of a full season. His abysmal performance (.618 OPS) had something to do with Houston's failures. When he finally broke out, hitting .400 against Atlanta in the 2004 NLDS, the Astros defeated their playoff nemesis. Overall, the Astros were 15-25 in the postseason during the Biggio/Bagwell era, losing six of nine series. When his obituary is written someday in the future, there will probably be a small mention of his misfortune in the playoffs, but it won't impact his legacy that much.
#16. Willie Randolph
Years: 1975-1992 Primary Team: New York Yankees
Randolph ranks seventh in fielding runs overall at second base, and for players who began their careers after World War II, he trails only Frank White. But unlike White, Willie could do some damage with his bat and his feet, and he did it for a long time: more than 2,200 games. His strengths were his range, accurate throwing arm, nimble play around the bag turning the double play, and his ability to make contact and draw bases on balls. He was also a good base runner. But his minuses carry too much weight: he didn't get enough extra-base hits (only 32 per 162 games, a low rate even for his era), and his crime in the field? He wasn't Bobby Grich, Lou Whitaker, or Frank White. Willie rests on the bubble for the Hall of Fame, a player who was very good for a long time, who played on several winning teams and who did important things. But ultimately he's right where he belongs, right there on that bubble, an excellent player who did some good things, but who doesn't have the other things to push him into Cooperstown with the legends.
#17. Billy Herman
Years: 1931-1947 Primary Team: Chicago Cubs
Herman was a very good ballplayer with no glaring weaknesses, though he always seemed to be overshadowed by more famous and colorful teammates. He was a ten-time All-Star second baseman and received MVP votes in seven separate seasons. At his peak he was a better player than Whitaker and Randolph, but those two rate ahead based on their longer peaks. Herman had only five seasons of 4+ WAR, while Sweet Lou had ten, Randolph also had ten, and Bobby Grich had nine. Herman played in three World Series for the Cubs but was on the losing side each time. Later, he helped the Brooklyn Dodgers to the pennant in his first season with them, but again suffered a loss in the Fall Classic.
#18. Ian Kinsler
Years: 2006-2017 Primary Team: Texas Rangers
Entering the 2018 season, Kinsler was at a critical juncture. He was past his 35th birthday, an age when almost every second baseman is on a severe decline. With a new team and in a new ballpark, Kinsler will need to find the ability to have a few more solid seasons if he wants to place himself into a discussion as a Hall of Famer. He ranked 19th in WAR among second basemen through 2017, and while his range in the field and ability to make consistent contact was waning, he still had power at the plate.
In 2004 when Kinsler was still in the Texas minor league system, the Rangers offered him to the Colorado Rockies in exchange for veteran outfielder Larry Walker. But Walker, having trade rights, vetoed the deal.
#19. Robinson Cano
Years: 2005-2017 Primary Team: New York Yankees
In 2018, Cano was caught cheating, having failed a drug test prior to the season and then failing another in May for a substance that is used to mask PEDs. This (unsurprising) revelation will almost certainly keep him out of the Baseball Hall of Fame, as one more superstar who tried to beat the drug policy. It's worse when a player is caught after so many high-profile players were caught and damaged the reputation of the game before them. Cano already had a smudge on his character for being lazy throughout his career. Cano never seemed like he cared so much for the game as he did getting paid. Strangely, Cano was finally caught after having signed a ten-year $200 million-plus contract with Seattle. He already had the money, so why did he continue to feel the need to take banned substances? Maybe that was the only way he could compete at the professional level anymore.
Cano's 80-game suspension for violating MLB's drug policy forced us to treat him like every other player who has been caught cheating. We marked him down about 15 percent, which dropped Cano from #9 to #19 as of the 2017 stats. Pedroia and Zobrist will quickly pass him, relegating Cano to the afterthought section of second basemen who rate outside the greats at the position.
Twice as a prospect in the minor leagues, the Yankees offered Robinson Cano as trade bait to acquire veteran players. Each time the other team rejected Cano and picked another player from the Yankee organization. Cano, who was named for Jackie Robinson, emerged as one of the best second basemen in baseball after being called to the majors in the middle of the 2005 season. He impressed immediately, finishing second in American League Rookie of the Year voting. He has a sweet left-handed swing that some have compared to the swing of Hall of Famer Rod Carew.
#20. Dustin Pedroia
Years: 2006-2017 Primary Team: Boston Red Sox
After two poor seasons and two mediocre seasons in his 30s, Dustin Pedroia doesn't seem to have much future value left entering the 2018 season. His body is also starting to wear down, as he's spent time on the disabled list four times since he turned 30. The trouble with this former MVP is that his peak wasn't high enough for him to move himself up this list. It's probable that he will stay in a group with Jeff Kent, Ian Kinsler, and Willie Randolph, the second baseman who were really good but not great enough to make it to Cooperstown. Like the other great Red Sox' second baseman, Bobby Doerr, Pedroia seems to have stalled at the age of 33.
#21. Jeff Kent
Years: 1992-2008 Primary Team: San Francisco Giants
Only 26 percent of Kent's career WAR came before he turned 30 years old, that's the lowest total among the top 50 second basemen. Three teams, the Blue Jays, Mets, and Indians, all gave up on Kent, who failed to impress anyone with his habit of swinging at any pitch near the plate. Kent was never good at turning the double play, he was stiff and slow in the field and his arm was below average. But when he arrived in San Francisco the Giants ignored that delinquency and welcomed his many doubles and home runs. In six seasons with the G-Men, Kent averaged 41 doubles and 29 home runs while driving in Barry Bonds a hell of a lot. The two teammates never liked each other: Bonds was an entitled prima donna who wanted to be the alpha male. Kent was a stubborn, opinionated conservative who didn't kiss Bonds' ass. The problems between the two stars began almost immediately when Kent refused to vacate Bonds' special seat in the bus. While Kent and Bonds each benefited from the other being in the lineup, neither of the egomaniacs would admit it. Probably no other prominent teammates hated each other as much since Ty Cobb and Sam Crawford.
#22. Bobby Doerr
Years: 1937-1951 Primary Team: Boston Red Sox
Doerr was a rarity: a second baseman who hit in the middle of the lineup. He usually hit fifth, behind his best friend Ted Williams (who batted third) and Jimmie Foxx (and later Vern Stephens) in the cleanup spot. A right-handed hitter, Doerr has some of the most striking platoon splits of any player in history: he had a career OPS of .716 on the road and .928 in Fenway Park. He averaged 4.2 homers per 100 at-bats in Fenway and 1.9 in road games. He was still a productive player but back problems forced him to retire at the age of 33.
#23. Ben Zobrist
Years: 2006-2017 Primary Team: Tampa Bay Rays
Sort of the Tony Phillips of his era, Zobrist has played every position except pitcher and catcher. He's been most comfortable at second base and in right field, where he had his best seasons for Tampa Bay. From the age of 28-31, Zobrist averaged 89 runs, 35 doubles, 6 triples, 19 homers, 83 RBIs, 18 stolen bases, and 89 walks per season. At the age of 35 he signed a 4-year, $56 million free agent contract with the Cubs. It was a homecoming for Zobrist, who grew up in Eureka. He paid quick dividends: hitting 18 homers in the regular season and winning the MVP award in the Fall Classic when he had ten hits for the Cubbies as they won their first championship on more than 100 years.
#24. Nellie Fox
Years: 1947-1965 Primary Team: Go Go Sox
#25. Tony Lazzeri
Years: 1926-1939 Primary Team: Murderers' Row
#26. Tony Phillips
Years: 1982-1999 Primary Team: Detroit Tigers
#27. Gil McDougald
Years: 1951-1960 Primary Team: Bronx Bombers
#28. Jim Gilliam
Years: 1953-1966 Primary Team: The Boys of Summer
#29. Eddie Stanky
Years: 1943-1953 Primary Team: New York Giants
#30. Johnny Evers
Years: 1902-1929 Primary Team: Chicago Cubs
#31. Davey Lopes
Years: 1972-1987 Primary Team: Los Angeles Dodgers
How do you answer the question "Who was the greatest base runner in baseball history?" One way is to add up the total bases a player accumulated because of his legs and his base running instincts. To do that you might sum his stolen bases and his extra bases taken (first-to-third on a single, for example). I suppose you could also look at his rate of triples and doubles hit compared to the context of his games and ballparks. If we do that, Lopes ranks very high, and you could argue he is the best base runner since 1970. Four base runners and Lopes rate in a pack at the front based on this criteria, the other four are: Willie Wilson, Rickey Henderson, Kenny Lofton, and Willie Mays. On extra bases taken, Mays is the best the base runner ever, based on taking extra bases (a record 63 percent of the time). Wilson was a fantastic base stealer and he hit a ton of triples, though his home parks helped him a bit there. Lopes was remarkable at stealing a base, a skill he kept into his 40s. From the age of 38 to 42, Lopes swiped 111 bases and was caught stealing only 17 times. That's an 87 percent success rate, not bad for an "old man."
#32. Red Schoendienst
Years: 1945-1963 Primary Team: St. Louis Cardinals
#33. Placido Polanco
Years: 1998-2013 Primary Team: Philadelphia Phillies
#34. Buddy Myer
Years: 1925-1941 Primary Team: Nats
#35. Chuck Knoblauch
Years: 1991-2002 Primary Team: Minnesota Twins
In a relatively brief big league career that ended when he was just 33 years old, Chuck Knoblauch accomplished a lot. He won the Rookie of the Year Award, was a four-time All Star, a Gold Glove Winner, and he won four World Series titles while appearing in five Fall Classics. Knoblauch was a pesky, tenacious player in the mold of Pete Rose when he first came up: not particularly the most polished defender at second base, but a gritty offensive player who grinded out every pitch, every at-bat. As a young second baseman for the Minnesota Twins in 1991, Knoblauch played in 151 games, scoring 78 runs, driving in 50, and stealing 25 bases. He hit .326 in the post-season as the Twins defeated the Blue Jays and Braves to win the title.
The Twins dealt Knoblauch to the Yankees prior to the '98 season for four prospects. In New York, Knoblauch became one of many stars on the team, which helped take some of the pressure off him at the plate, but it soon impacted his play in the field. With the Yankees in 1999, Knoblauch started to have difficulty throwing the ball to first base. He committed 26 errors that season, and when he made 11 throwing errors in 2000 in just 82 games at second, the Yankees started using Knoblauch as a DH.
Years after he retired it was revealed that Knoblauch's name had been in the Mitchell Report, which outed players who allegedly took steroids. After denying it at first, Knoblauch later acknowledged that he took HGH (Human Growth Hormone) during his playing career with the Yankees. "I did HGH. It didn't help me out. It didn't make me any better," Knoblauch said, "I had the worst years of my career from a batting average standpoint. And I got hurt. So there was no good that came out of it for me, it was not performance-enhancing for me."
#36. Lonny Frey
Years: 1933-1948 Primary Team: Cincinnati Reds
#37. Larry Doyle
Years: 1907-1920 Primary Team: New York Giants
#38. Dick McAuliffe
Years: 1960-1975 Primary Team: Detroit Tigers
#39. Del Pratt
Years: 1912-1924 Primary Team: St. Louis Browns
#40. Jose Altuve
Years: 2011-2017 Primary Team: Houston Astros
#41. Max Bishop
Years: 1924-1935 Primary Team: Philadelphia A's
#42. Bill Mazeroski
Years: 1956-1972 Primary Team: Pittsburgh Pirates
#43. Bill Doran
Years: 1982-1993 Primary Team: Houston Astros
#44. Danny Murphy
Years: 1900-1915 Primary Team: Philadelphia A's
#45. Tony Cuccinello
Years: 1930-1945 Primary Team: Brooklyn Dodgers
#46. Ray Durham
Years: 1995-2008 Primary Team: Chicago White Sox
#47. Frank White
Years: 1973-1990 Primary Team: Kansas City Royals
#48. Mark Ellis
Years: 2002-2014 Primary Team: Oakland A's
#49. Ron Hunt
Years: 1963-1974 Primary Team: Montreal Expos
#50. Snuffy Stirnweiss
Years: 1943-1952 Primary Team: New York Yankees
#51. Pete Runnels
Years: 1951-1964 Primary Team: Washington Senators
#52. Bobby Avila
Years: 1949-1959 Primary Team: Cleveland Indians
#53. Howie Kendrick
Years: 2006-2017 Primary Team: The Halos
#54. Brandon Phillips
Years: 2002-2017 Primary Team: Cincinnati Reds
#55. Davey Johnson
Years: 1965-1978 Primary Team: Baltimore Orioles
#56. Luis Castillo
Years: 1996-2010 Primary Team: Marlins
#57. Phil Garner
Years: 1973-1988 Primary Team: Pirates
#58. Jimmy Williams
Years: 1899-1909 Primary Team: New York Highlanders
#59. George Grantham
Years: 1922-1934 Primary Team: Pittsburgh Pirates
#60. Miller Huggins
Years: 1904-1916 Primary Team: St. Louis Cardinals
#61. Marty McManus
Years: 1920-1934 Primary Team: St. Louis Browns
#62. Claude Ritchey
Years: 1899-1909 Primary Team: Boston Braves
#63. Robby Thompson
Years: 1986-1996 Primary Team: San Francisco Giants
#64. Aaron Hill
Years: 2005-2017 Primary Team: Toronto Blue Jays
#65. Orlando Hudson
Years: 2002-2012 Primary Team: Blue Jays and Diamondbacks
#66. Steve Sax
Years: 1981-1994 Primary Team: Los Angeles Dodgers
#67. Dave Cash
Years: 1969-1980 Primary Team: The Bucs
#68. Johnny Ray
Years: 1981-1990 Primary Team: The Bucs
#69. Brian Dozier
Years: 2012-2017 Primary Team: Twinkies
#70. Tom Herr
Years: 1979-1991 Primary Team: The Redbirds
#71. Buck Herzog
Years: 1908-1920 Primary Team: New York Giants
#72. Mark Grudzielanek
Years: 1995-2010 Primary Team: LA Dodgers
#73. Billy Goodman
Years: 1947-1962 Primary Team: Boston Red Sox
#74. Randy Velarde
Years: 1987-2002 Primary Team: Angels
#75. Delino DeShields
Years: 1990-2002 Primary Team: Montreal Expos
#76. Brian Roberts
Years: 2001-2014 Primary Team: The Orioles
#77. Carlos Baerga
Years: 1990-2005 Primary Team: Cleveland Indians
In the early 1990s, Carlos Baerga was one of the better second basemen in the American League. A decent fielder, Baerga was known more for his offensive production from both sides of the plate as a switch-hitter. He hit over .300 four straight years for Cleveland and batted third in the powerful Indians lineup ahead of Albert Belle. Baerga collected 200 hits and drove in 100 runs in 1992 and 1993, becoming only the third second baseman to do both in consecutive seasons. But he suffered a back injury and then another, and he played his last full season when he was 29.
#78. Jason Kipnis
Years: 2011-2017 Primary Team: Cleveland Indians
#79. Adam Kennedy
Years: 1999-2012 Primary Team: The Angels
#80. Bip Roberts
Years: 1986-1998 Primary Team: San Diego Padres
#81. Tony Taylor
Years: 1958-1976 Primary Team: Philadelphia Phillies
#82. Damion Easley
Years: 1992-2008 Primary Team: Detroit Tigers
#83. Ronnie Belliard
Years: 1998-2010 Primary Team: Milwaukee Brewers
#84. Craig Counsell
Years: 1995-2011 Primary Team: Brewers, Diamondbacks
#85. Neil Walker
Years: 2009-2017 Primary Team: New York Mets
#86. Jim Gantner
Years: 1976-1992 Primary Team: Brew Crew
#87. Mark Loretta
Years: 1995-2009 Primary Team: Brewers, Padres
#88. Dan Uggla
Years: 2006-2015 Primary Team: Marlins
#89. Jose Vidro
Years: 1997-2008 Primary Team: Expos and Nationals
#90. Jim Lefebvre
Years: 1965-1972 Primary Team: Dodgers
#91. Frank Bolling
Years: 1954-1966 Primary Team: Braves
#92. Daniel Murphy
Years: 2008-2017 Primary Team: Washington Nationals
#93. Don Blasingame
Years: 1955-1966 Primary Team: St. Louis Cardinals
#94. Glenn Hubbard
Years: 1978-1989 Primary Team: Atlanta Braves
#95. Jerry Priddy
Years: 1941-1953 Primary Team: New York Yankees
#96. Mark McLemore
Years: 1986-2004 Primary Team: California Angels
#97. Marcus Giles
Years: 2001-2007 Primary Team: Atlanta Braves
#98. Bret Boone
Years: 1992-2005 Primary Team: Seattle Mariners
#99. Mike Gallego
Years: 1985-1997 Primary Team: Oakland A's
#100. Eric Young
Years: 1992-2006 Primary Team: Colorado Rockies