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
Fox's mother wrote a letter to Connie Mack when her son was 16 asking for a tryout for young Nelson. A few weeks later he traveled the 60 miles by train from little St. Thomas Township to Frederick, Maryland, the site of the A's spring camp. Fox had on a pair of borrowed cleats and he wore the jersey of the St. Thomas team that he and his father both played for. At that point he was a runt, weighing no more than 145 pounds. He looked like he should have been the bat boy. But Mack liked the way Fox hustled and he was impressed at how the teenager made contact on almost every pitch he swung at. He signed Fox to a contract but Nellie's career took a detour when he was drafted into the Army. Finally, in 1947 the little second baseman debuted for the A's and he eventually played nearly 2,300 games at second base in the majors. the way he saw it, he never had another option. "I had to be a ballplayer," Fox said. "I wasn't very good at school and I didn't have any outside hobbies. I played ball. That's what I did."
#25. Tony Lazzeri
Years: 1926-1939 Primary Team: Murderers' Row
Probably should have been in the Yankees' lineup when he was 20 years old in 1924. That season he hit 44 home runs between two different leagues in the minors. The Yankees employed Aaron Ward at second and Everett Scott at short, and neither of them ever came within a mile of being the hitter Lazzeri was at that moment. Early on it wasn't clear whether Tony would settle at shortstop or second base. His first minor league manager, the old Boston outfielder Duffy Lewis, switched Lazzeri to second apparently because he didn't think the youngster was able to go deep into the hole. By 1926 after he'd walloped 60 home runs and set a professional record with 222 RBIs at Salt Lake City, the Yankees had to get him into the lineup. He started on opening day and kept the job for twelve years. Originally he hit sixth, behind Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Long Bob Meusel. Those guys cleaned the bases pretty well, but they also left themselves on base a lot and Tony drove in 117 as a rookie. He plated 102 the next season and topped 100 RBIs seven times in his dozen seasons in the sun as a Yankee. Similar to Jeff Kent, in that they both enjoyed the benefits of playing in star-studded lineups. But Lazzeri was a better fielder than Kent and a better teammate. He was best pals with fellow Italian (and Bay area native) Joe DiMaggio.
#26. Tony Phillips
Years: 1982-1999 Primary Team: Detroit Tigers
One of only two players in baseball history with at least 50 Wins Above Replacement who didn't really have a position on the diamond. Phillips spent 18 years in the league and he played more than 700 games in the outfield, more than 700 at second base, more than 400 at third, and nearly 300 at shortstop. And he usually played 3-4 of those positions every season for stretches of time. He also appeared in more than 100 games as a designated hitter. Other players had careers split between two positions (like Stan Musial, Tony Perez and Joe Mauer). And a very few played three positions regularly (Craig Biggio), but there was only one other player that I could find who accumulated 50+ WAR and regularly played as many as four positions: Pete Rose (who played five: right and left, third, second, and first).
Phillips played nine years with the A's but he actually nearly had as many plate appearances in his five seasons for Detroit. His best seasons came as a Tiger, he averaged 100 runs, 154 hits, 26 doubles, 12 homers, 62 RBIs, 14 stolen bases, and 104 walks per season in Detroit. His on-base percentage as a Tiger was nearly .400.
Phillips was good for 2-3 really outlandish ejections every season. He had a small strike zone and he thought his eyesight was impeccable. As a result he never liked it when a home plate umpire called a pitch he took a strike. He'd slant his head one way, scrunch his face, and look at the man in blue like he was crazy. He showed the umpire up, and he'd get run in dramatic style with bat flips and dirt kicks and the like.
#27. Gil McDougald
Years: 1951-1960 Primary Team: Bronx Bombers
He used one of the strangest batting stances of his era: his feet both open so he was facing the pitcher, with the bat held tight and close to his waist. Many years later several batters would open their stances, usually in an effort to see pitches better, but McDougald was unusual with his approach on the 1950s.
Unlike other young players who were trapped in the Yankee farm system, McDougald shot through the minors and got into the lineup as soon as he finished a military obligation. In 1951 he was the American League's Rookie of the Year, narrowly edging Minnie Minoso for the honor. Both had fine rookie seasons, and Minnie's was a smidge better, but it's quibbling: McDougald was deserving.
His natural position was second base, but Casey Stengel liked McDougald so much he also used him at third and short for spells. His arm was strong enough. The Yankees made him Phil Rizzuto's replacement in 1956. "I'm not exactly in love with shortstop," McDougald said during his career. "But I will play anywhere as long as I get to play. Personally, I'd prefer to play second base. That's where I really feel at home. But I think that I can get to like playing shortstop, if I play there long enough."
The arrival of Bobby Richardson, Tony Kubek, and Clete Boyer hastened the end of McDougald's career, and shortly after Bill Mazeroski's homer ended the 1960 World Series in crushing fashion for the Yankees, Gil announced his retirement after only ten years. He figured the Yanks were going to trade him and he didn't have any desire to move his young family away from the city.
#28. Jim Gilliam
Years: 1953-1966 Primary Team: The Boys of Summer
Born five months after Gil McDougald, Gilliam debuted for the rival Dodgers two years after McDougald debuted for the Yankees. Like McDougald, Gilliam was named Rookie of the Year, and like the Yankee, Gilliam played other infield positions during his career too, as needed by his team. Both players were in the middle of the scrums between the Yanks and Dodgers in the 1950s and 1960s. Gilliam played in four World Series against the Yankees, hitting two homers in the Fall Classic as a rookie.
Gilliam learned to be a ballplayer during his three seasons in the negro leagues, which is where he earned the nickname "Junior" as well. A veteran teammate suggested he try switch-hitting, and he honed his skills as a bunter and basestealer. By the time the Dodgers inserted him at second base (pushing Jackie Robinson to the outfield) in '53, Gilliam was a good player, especially in the field where he had excellent range. His arm was never considered strong for a second baseman, and Walter Alston was frequently frustrated at Junior's base running gaffes, but Gilliam proved to be an important part of the Dodgers teams that won seven pennants between 1953 and 1966. His final three years, Gilliam served as a player/coach, and he remained on the Dodger payroll as a coach until his death late in the 1978 season. The Dodgers placed black armbands on their uniforms to honor Gilliam, ironically squaring off against the Yankees in the World Series.
#29. Eddie Stanky
Years: 1943-1953 Primary Team: New York Giants
The three most aggressive baserunners of the 1940s and 1950s might have been Enos Slaughter, Jackie Robinson, and Eddie Stanky. Of those three, Stanky was the most vicious, he thought nothing of ripping his spikes into an opposing infielder. He barely weighed 165 pounds was only about 5-foot-7, but Stanky carried the confidence of a large man inside. He wasn't a dirty player, but he gave no ground. As a result, he made his way to a fine career in the big leagues and he was a popular teammate.
Because of his small stature, Stanky had to claw and fight his way to the majors. He played eight seasons in the minor leagues, figuring out ways to be as important as he could to his team. He worked on sticking his glove in the dirt as he ran to his left to get groundballs, to remind himself to keep the glove down. He stood dangerously close to the plate, daring pitchers to throw inside and getting hit by pitches dozens of times a year. He took extra batting practice to perfect his batting eye, trying to make himself a valuable leadoff hitter. He studied the slopes of every infield on every diamond in every league he played in, looking for an edge. Nothing escaped his attention.
Finally in 1943, the Cubs purchased Stanky's contract and gave him the second base job. He was seen as a war-time fill-in player. He walked 92 times as a rookie and was adequate in the field. NBut the Cubs' regular second baseman returned in 1944 and Stanky rusted on the bench. He demanded a trade and the Cubs obliged, dealing him to Brooklyn, who were still missing their regular second baseman due to World War II. Stanky was ineligible for military service because of a hearing problem he suffered after being beaned by a pitch in the minor leagues.
Stanky emerged as a valuable player for the Dodgers. In 1945, his first full season in a Brooklyn uniform, he set a league record with 148 walks. It was the first of three times he led the NL in free passes. He teamed with shortstop Pee Wee Reese to form a great duo in the middle of the infield and in 1947 the Dodgers won the pennant, losing to the Yankees in the Series.
The 1947 season was tumultuous for the Dodgers. They welcomed a new, controversial teammate in Jackie Robinson, who was integrating baseball. For Stanky it was a bit unsettling because Robinson's natural position was second base. However, manager Burt Shotton played Jackie at first base that year, keeping Stanky at second. But by spring training in '48, something needed to be done, and the Dodgers traded Stanky to the Boston Braves, clearing the way for Robinson to play second. The deal shocked Dodger fans who loved Stanky, whom they dubbed "Our Little Brat" and "Muggsy." Some historians have claimed that Stanky was unwelcoming to Robinson because of his race. Others have outright called Stanky a racist. There's no evidence to support those claims. But it's very likely Stanky was threatened by Robinson, worried that he would lose his job. That may have influenced Stanky's interactions with Robinson, though Jackie claimed that Eddie was always kind to him. At any rate, Stanky was right to feel threatened: he lost his job in Brooklyn to Robinson.
Stanky may have had sore feelings about being traded to the Braves, but he had more soreness in the middle of the season when he broke his ankle on a slide play against his former team. He missed most of the remainder of the regular season and had to watch his new team battle for and win the pennant without him. He was reactivated for the 1948 World Series and reached base 11 times in the six-game loss to the Indians.
Always one of those guys who wore on people in the clubhouse with his constant competitiveness and edginess, Stanky invariably ruffled feathers wherever he went. In Boston he ran up against manager Billy Southworth, who thought Eddie was angling to take his job. A few too many times, Stanky called played while he was on the diamond, and Southworth and a few teammates took offense. After the '49 season it wasn't clear if Southworth would return to the Braves, but when he announced he would at the annual winter meetings, most people figured Eddie would exit Boston. And he did in a fantastic trade that dominated baseball headlines. The Braves traded the head-strong second baseman and his double play partner Al Dark to the Giants in exchange for four players. Dark had been Rookie of the Year in 1948 and he teamed with Stanky to form an excellent (and scrappy) double play tandem. The Giants hoped the pair would help spark their team and move them out of the shadow of the rival Dodgers. The trade set the stage for historic drama in the National League and it also proved to be a turning point in the careers of several key figures.
The manager of the Giants was Leo Durocher, the same man who had managed Stanky in Brooklyn in 1945-46. Back then, Durocher disliked the cocky young infielder and the two constantly bickered. But now, with more years beneath their belts, and with Stanky established as one of the best middle infielders in the circuit, Durocher let his new second baseman loose. Leo informed Eddie that he was in charge on the infield. As a result, the 1950 season proved to be the best of Stanky's career. He led the NL in on-base percentage, walks, hit by pitches, and he scored 115 runs. According to Wins Above Replacement, he was the best player in the league. He finished third in MVP voting. The team improved by 15 wins.
In 1951 the Giants stormed back and won the pennant, catching the Dodgers in a remarkable pennant race and winning a playoff. When Bobby Thomson circled the bases with his pennant-winning homer at the Polo Grounds, Stanky climbed on Durocher's back in the third base coaching box, the two men dancing and celebrating a sweet victory over their former team. It would be the last great moment of Stanky's playing career.
After helping three different teams win pennants in five years, Eddie wanted a chance to lead his own team. The Giants traded him to the Cardinals, where he was named player/manager in 1952. He was 36 years old, had just hit a career-best 14 homers, and posted a .401 on-base percentage, but he turned his attention to managing from the dugout. He only played 70 more games in two seasons with the Cardinals. His first year as skipper, the Cards responded to his fiery demeanor, improving by seven games. The Cardinals were in second place as late as August 25th in Stanky's first foray as a manager. Eventually his iron-fisted ways wore thin, and he was fired shortly into his fourth season, ending his St. Louis tenure with a 260-238 record.
Stanky was a baseball lifer, but unlike most other lifers, he had a tough time sticking in one place or staying in one job. Some teams stayed away from him because of his prickly personality. Like Billy Martin, Stanky was a tough man to play for, and few organizations wanted to place young players under Eddie's thumb. Stanky briefly managed in the minors but he was always looking for an edge to win games and sometimes lost sight of larger organizational goals. He also had difficulty relating to players who didn't possess the same intense burning desire to win. That changed when he took the job as head coach at the University of South Alabama. He led their baseball team for 14 seasons, turning the small school into a national powerhouse and never once having a losing season. A mellowed Stanky even learned to accept that baseball wasn't always about winning.
#30. Johnny Evers
Years: 1902-1929 Primary Team: Chicago Cubs
Who was the strangest-looking player in baseball history? Well, Eddie Gaedel was a shock when he walked out of the dugout in St. Louis wearing a uniform with the number "1/8" and carrying a toy bat. But what about real players? It might have been Johnny Evers. Reportedly, when he played for Troy in the Class B New York State League in the early years of the 20th century, Evers weighed about 95 pounds. He was 5-foot-9, which was average height back then, so he must have looked like a straw in a baseball uniform. He also had a long, narrow face that resembled that of later comedian Stan Laurel. He had a massive jaw not unlike the one that adorns the face of Jay Leno. One newspaper account also says that Evers had a way of leaning his tiny upper body back and forth nervously as he waited on deck or was standing at his position at second base. I can imagine that he looked like a tall skinny bird gently bending his body on tiny legs from side to side. Imagine seeing a 95-pound professional baseball player, most likely wearing a uniform that was a few sizes too big, the belt tightened tremendously around his little waist, the pants blousing out so much that it was impossible to see where the wool ended and the man started. In modern times, David Eckstein was considered a runt, a peculiar sight on the diamond because he was so small compared to his contemporaries. But Eckstein weighed 170 pounds and he had the benefit of weight training. He was little, but he had some muscles. Evers looked like a sailor who had been set adrift on the seas in a lifeboat for a few months with hardly any food or water. It couldn't have seemed possible that this little man with a large jaw and a small upper body could throw a baseball all the way from second base to first. Or that he could swing the heavy bats used in that era.
But Evers was a great athlete and an even smarter ballplayer. He was quick and had an accurate throwing arm, which was strong enough for shortstop, which is where he played his first big league game. Three days later, Frank Selee used 20-year old Evers at second and 21-year old Joe Tinker at short for the first time. They learned to play together as rookies in the major leagues. They eventually knew how to anticipate where the other man would be, how hard he would toss a relay throw, what his footwork was like. The duo played eleven seasons together, though they were famously not friendly with each other off the field. They were catalysts on four pennant-winning Chicago teams, including the 1906 squad that won a remarkable 116 games.
#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
If anyone bled Cardinal red it was Schoendienst, who wore a St. Louis uniform for 67 years as a player, coach, and manager. In all, he spent 74 years in uniform in the game, which is most likely a record.
Was Schoendienst worthy of a Hall of Fame plaque as a player? For the first 13 years of his career he was an everyday second baseman on good teams and he did some nice things. As a rookie he led the league in stolen bases. One year he led the National League in doubles. He had 200 hits when he was 34 years old, a season that saw his trade to the Braves spark that team to the pennant. He earned MVP votes in six of his 14 full seasons and his teams won three pennants and two World Series titles.
But everything Red did was on the surface, it was what was obvious. The subtle, hidden parts of the game were not his strength, and since he didn't do those things (like draw walks, steal a lot of bases, get hit by pitches, bunt well)
#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
His nickname was "Bop", which means that for about a decade there were second basemen that went by "Bip" and "Bop" in the National League. He slapped the ball around a lot and then relied on his legs once he got on base, stealing 40 or more bases six times. In 2000 in Baltimore he suddenly and surprisingly hit 43 doubles, twice his normal seasonal output. He was 31 years old and that was his last decent season. He finished second in Rookie of the Year voting in 1990, and Montreal had two other notable rookies that season too: Larry Walker and Marquis Grissom.
#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
He had an odd career: at the age of 22 he played regularly as a rookie for the Angels but spent the next four years with four different organizations trying to prove he belonged in the big leagues. In Baltimore, Johnny Oates took a shining to him and made McLemore his super-sub. He asked the switch-hitter to learn to play the outfield, played him all over the infield, and even used him at DH. More mature and nearing 30, McLemore blossomed as an Oriole and then spent five years with Texas and four with Seattle as a valuable jack of all trades. He was still a good defensive second baseman in his mid-30s, and at the age of 34 he scored 105 runs for the Rangers starting in the middle of the infield. Every year he worked on another area of his game, and in 2001 when he was 36 he stole 39 bases for the M's when they won 116 games. Despite having only 257 hits through the age of 27, McLemore topped 1,600 for his career, playing until he was almost 40.
#97. Marcus Giles
Years: 2001-2007 Primary Team: Atlanta Braves
Only played seven seasons, but he managed to have a few good years and his glove was pretty decent. In 2003 he had probably the best season ever by a Braves second baseman, scoring 101 runs while pounding out 72 extra-base hits and posting a 917 OPS. He was an All-Star that year and he deserved to be higher than 18th in MVP voting. It was an excellent season. He refused to accept minor league assignments in his final year and the subsequent spring training, precipitating the end of his brief career. He'd earned more than $10 million and left the game behind.
#98. Bret Boone
Years: 1992-2005 Primary Team: Seattle Mariners
An average middle infielder with a decent glove who turned to medicinal methods to transform himself into a mini-Hulk in the second half of his career. As a result he hit 166 homers in his 30s after hitting only 86 in his 20s, and rode the steroid syringe to accolades and lots of money. His behavior besmirched a royal baseball family that traces its' routes to Roy Boone, a venerable All-Star infielder from the 1950s. Hopefully soon someone else will come along and erase him from this Top 100 list and we won't have to think about him again.
#99. Mike Gallego
Years: 1985-1997 Primary Team: Oakland A's
I guess the most interesting things you can say about Mike Gallego are that he was a starting second baseman on three straight pennant winning teams and he was the last Yankee other than Derek Jeter to wear #2. Otherwise, he's an unremarkable player to be on this list.
#100. Eric Young
Years: 1992-2006 Primary Team: Colorado Rockies
Young was one of the first stars on the Colorado Rockies when they entered the National League as an expansion team in 1993. He was popular largely because he was so fun to root for. He had been a football star in addition to being a baseball player in college, playing for Rutgers as a wide receiver despite being undersized at 5'9. Thanks to his small stature, he was overlooked until the 43rd round of the MLB Draft, where the Dodgers picked him. He was with the Rockies a year later when he hit a home run in the first plate appearance for the franchise in Denver. He only hit a few more homers in Colorado during his career, but he batted over .300 a few times and he was an All-Star in 1996 when he led the NL with 53 stolen bases and scored 113 runs, often scampering home on hits by Andres Galarraga, Ellis Burks, or Vinny Castilla. Late in his career he morphed into a handy utility player, seeing action in the outfield as well as second and third base.