I started with a simple question: What team has had the best first basemen (or catchers, or shortstops) in its history? The following is my best answer to the question. See Previous Post for full explanation.
10. Los Angeles Angels
Bobby Knoop, Sandy Alomar, Jerry Remy, Bobby Grich, Gary DiSarcina, Adam Kennedy, Howie Kendrick
This group doesn’t exactly blow you away. I may regret placing the Angels at number ten, but believe me when I say that second base has not been a glorious position in baseball history. That said, these guys are underrated. They’re all pretty good, and Grich was pretty great. None of them are Hall-of-Famers, although Grich should be.
9. Boston Red Sox
Hobe Ferris, Bobby Doerr, Billy Goodman, Pete Runnels, Jerry Remy, Marty Barrett, Jose Offerman, Dustin Pedroia
Here again we have no superstars, although Bobby Doerr is in the Hall of Fame. Still, this is a respectable record, and the run of players from Doerr to Goodman to Runnels is pretty impressive.
8. Chicago Cubs
Fred Pfeffer, Johnny Evers, Billy Herman, Glenn Beckert, Ryne Sandberg, Mickey Morandini
There are long dry spells at second base in Cubs history (they’ve been in one since Sandberg retired). But when a good players pops up, it’s pretty notable. Evers, Herman and Sandberg are Hall-of-Famers.
7. New York/San Francisco Giants
Kid Gleason, Frankie Frisch, Eddie Stanky, Tito Fuentes, Robby Thompson, Jeff Kent, Ray Durham
If you take out the forty years separating Stanky from Thompson, the Giants would be at the top of the list. Frisch is in the Hall of Fame, and Kent likely will be. Gleason, Stanky and Durham especially are all underrated.
6. Cleveland Indians
Napoleon Lajoie, Bill Wambsganss, Joe Gordon, Bobby Avila, Duane Kuiper, Tony Bernazard, Carlos Baerga, Roberto Alomar, Ronnie Belliard
Here again, we’ve got a long period of mediocre players that lasts essentially from Avila to Baerga (almost 40 years). There are some legitimate stars here, but what really boosts the Indians is 13 years of Lajoie, one of the top four second basemen of all time.
5. Los Angeles Dodgers
George Cutshaw, Tony Cuccinello, Billy Herman, Eddie Stanky, Jackie Robinson, Jim Gilliam, Davey Lopes, Steve Sax, Delino DeShields, Jeff Kent
Robinson and Herman are the Hall-of-Famers, but this is a pretty stellar list, even if you’ve never heard of Tony Cuccinello.
4. Cincinnati Reds
Bid McPhee, Miller Huggins, Hughie Critz, Lonny Frey, Johnny Temple, Pete Rose, Tommy Helms, Joe Morgan, Ron Oester, Bret Boone, Brandon Phillips
The stars here are Rose and Morgan, but the other guys on the list had some fine seasons as well. Morgan and McPhee are in the Hall of Fame as players, Huggins as a manager.
3. Houston Astros
Joe Morgan, Tommy Helms, Bill Doran, Craig Biggio, Jeff Kent
This is a long, fairly uninterrupted period of fantastic production. Morgan didn’t have his best years in Houston, but a pretty good year from Joe Morgan is a career year for anyone else on this list. It’s 20 years of Craig Biggio, though, that shoots the Astros to #4.
2. St. Louis Cardinals
Miller Huggins, Rogers Hornsby, Frankie Frisch, Pepper Martin, Red Schoendienst, Julian Javier, Ted Sizemore, Tom Herr, Fernando Vina
The Cards got the first half of Rogers Hornsby’s career and the second of of Frankie Frisch’s (the two were traded for one another after the 1926 season). Put them together, and the Cardinals almost top the list, despite a less impressive supporting cast.
1. New York Yankees
Del Pratt, Aaron Ward, Tony Lazzeri, Joe Gordon, Snuffy Stirnweiss, Jerry Coleman, Billy Martin, Gil McDougald, Bobby Richardson, Willie Randolph, Pat Kelly, Chuck Knoblauch, Alfonso Soriano, Robinson Cano
Only two of these players – Lazzeri and Gordon – have been inducted into Cooperstown, and neither one is a top-level Hall-of-Famer. The Yankees are here not on star power, but rather because they’ve had All-Star-level production at second base almost continuously for a century.
And here are the bottom three franchises in second basemen:
28. Tampa Bay Rays
Miguel Cairo, Ben Zobrist
I’ve given the Rays credit for the fact that they’ve only been around for twelve years. Still, this is sorry. They would have easily been last until Zobrist had a fantastic year in 2009.
29. New York Mets
Ron Hunt, Felix Millan, Wally Backman, Jeff Kent, Edgardo Alfonzo, Luis Castillo
Alfonzo is the best of the pack here. The Mets had Kent before he entered his prime and Castillo after he’d passed it.
30. San Diego Padres
Tim Flannery, Roberto Alomar, Quilvio Veras, Mark Loretta
Loretta had an amazing season in 2004, the best by any Padres second basemen. But other than that and a few good years by young Roberto Alomar (who was traded away at age 23), the Padres have had a gaping hole at second base. What’s really scary is all the players who came before Tim Flannery, from 1969-1979.