Second base is one of the hardest positions to play in baseball. Second basemen need to be agile, quick, good fielders, and smart players that know how to cover their base during critical situations. In the lineup, they tend to use their speed and agility in base-stealing situations as several of the best second basemen are known for their consistent contact-hitting and baserunning ability.
This style of play complements power-hitting and makes for a truly exciting, and high-scoring, brand of MLB baseball that is sure to help ballparks fill up. Speaking of filling an stadium, a recent poll of sports fans found that many of them are willing to spend and travel to see their favorite teams play in person. Results of the poll found the average respondent would be willing to travel an astonishing five hours and 48 minutes for a game — and they’d spend $762.20 for tickets. One respondent even admitted they missed their friend’s wedding to see their team play, while another traveled 10 hours to another state. That’s some serious fandom, folks.
Speaking of power-hitting and complementary baseball, another study finds that MLB sluggers should thank climate change for the surge in home runs. Researchers at Dartmouth College suggest that more than 500 home runs hit since 2010 are the result of warmer and thinner air due to global warming. While the research team attributes only one percent of the sport’s recent home run surge to climate change, they add that rising temperatures could soon account for over 10 percent of the home runs hit by 2100 — especially if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise at present rates. Scientists even say that baseball could be in the beginning stages of the new “climate ball” era. So much for steroids.
So, who are the greats on second base? StudyFinds did some digging, consulting 10 sports and baseball-oriented websites in an effort to bring you the best MLB second basemen of all time. Our list comprises the five most frequently mentioned MLB second basemen from across these sites. As always, feel free to share your thoughts with us in the comments below!
The List: Best MLB Second Basemen of All Time, According to Experts
1. Rogers Hornsby
Topping the lists of the best MLB second basemen of all time is the legendary Rogers Hornsby. Hornsby goes down as the best all-time at his position because he could do it all – hit, field, run, and throw. But, as the experts will tell you, Hornsby goes down as one of the best hitters in MLB history. “Hornsby is one of the greatest hitters of all-time. He had a .358 average, 301 home runs, 1584 RBI, 1579 runs scored, 2930 base hits, 541 doubles, 169 triples and 135 stolen bases. He won seven batting titles, nine on-base percentage titles and nine slugging percentage titles. He also won two triple crowns in the 1922 and 1925 seasons,” explains Bleacher Report.
The number of hitting titles that Hornsby earned throughout the course of his illustrious career goes on. Two triple crowns are incredible, regardless of the era Hornsby played in. “Despite falling a little short of 3,000 career his, Rogers Hornsby is one of the best pure hitters in baseball history, putting him at the top of our list of all-time second basemen. With just 70 more hits during his career that spanned over two decades, Hornsby would have reached the 3,000-hit mark. At the same time, Hornsby was also a .358 career hitter, which ranks third all-time, and smashed 301 career home runs, which was a healthy total for that era. Hornsby won seven batting titles during his career, including a stretch of six in a row, while batting .400 or better three times,” adds Franchise Sports.
“Hornsby got a taste of the show in 1915 and was a regular with the Cardinals the following season. In 1920, he won his first of six consecutive (and seven total) batting titles when he hit .370. That was the lowest BA of his title years. Three times Hornsby hit over .400, including his .424 average in 1924. No player in history has a higher single-season batting average with as many plate appearances as Hornsby had in 1924,” writes Pitcher List.
2. Joe Morgan
This legendary Reds second baseman helped propel “The Big Red Machine” during the 70s and 80s. As a result, Morgan was a first-ballot Hall of Famer in 1990. “[Morgan] was great offensively and defensively. In his 22-year career, he had a .271 average, a .392 on base percentage, 268 home runs, 1133 RBI, 1650 runs scored, 2517 base hits and 689 stolen bases. He was selected to the All-Star team ten times, starting at second for seven of them. He was also one of the best defensive second baseman ever, winning five consecutive Gold Glove awards in the mid 70’s,” writes Bleacher Report.
Morgan was also a big reason why the Reds won two World Series crowns in four trips to the championship. Keep in mind that Morgan’s career took place during a tough era of baseball. “If Joe Morgan played today, he would be viewed as the ultimate Sabermetric player. He had an incredible knack for getting on base and has the second-most home runs for someone his size (5-7) or shorter. Modern measures credit him with an average of 9.5 WAR per season over a five-year period. That puts him in a class with the game’s all-time greats,” adds ESPN.
WAR stands for wins above replacement, and it’s one of the key metrics that baseball analysts use to measure a player’s impact on their team. Joe Morgan has one of the highest WAR metrics of all time, but that’s not all that goes into making him one of the best MLB second basemen of all time. Morgan could do it all – run, hit, and masterfully field his position.
“Both offensively and defensively, there is a case that Joe Morgan is the best second baseman of all time. If nothing else, he was the best second baseman of the second half of the 20th century. He played over 20 seasons, making the All-Star Team 10 times. More importantly, he was MVP in both 1975 and 1976, the same years that Morgan and the Reds won back-to-back World Series titles. While he was a little undersized, Morgan still became an elite player, amassing over 2,500 hits and 268 career home runs, not to mention using his speed and athleticism to steal 689 bases,” furthers Franchise Sports.
3. Jackie Robinson
The third spot on the list of the best MLB second basemen of all time belongs to none other than Jackie Robinson. He broke MLB’s color barrier on April 15th, 1947, but that was just the beginning of his magical career. Once Robinson got on the field, he wasted little time producing one of the best careers fans have ever seen.
“Robinson is probably best known for breaking the color barrier, as he was the first African-American to play in the majors. However, he was also one of the greatest players to ever play the game as well. In his ten-year career, he had a .311 average, 137 home runs, 734 RBI, 947 runs scored, 1518 base hits and 197 stolen bases. He was selected to the All-Star team six times, starting at second for four of them. He was also a big winner as he led the Dodgers to the World Series six times, winning one of them. He won the Rookie of the Year Award in 1947 and the NL MVP award in 1949, while winning the batting title hitting .342 and had 16 homers, 124 RBI’s and 122 runs scored,” explains Bleacher Report.
Jackie Robinson did all of this after joining the Brooklyn Dodgers as a 28-year-old rookie in 1947. By the age of 28, many of the best MLB second basemen of all time had already been playing in the major leagues for five to 10 years. “[Robinson’s] legacy as one of the most important individuals in U.S. cultural history has obscured that he was an amazing player. He didn’t reach the majors until he was 28, but hit .311/.409/.474 and was one of the most exciting players ever with his daring dashes on the bases. He played 10 seasons; give him another seven or eight and he’d be right up there with Rogers Hornsby and Joe Morgan,” writes ESPN.
For the record, the MLB has retired Jackie Robinson’s number 42 jersey. Every season, MLB honors Jackie Robinson with Jackie Robinson Day – on April 15th. Still, in 1949, Jackie had one of the best seasons ever for a second baseman, and his career fielding percentage is off the charts.
“Robinson finished his career with a .311 batting average, 134 homers, 197 stolen bases but those totals are lower compared to others since he did not join MLB until the age of 28 and played just 10 seasons. Robinson was named MVP in 1949 with the Brooklyn Dodgers when he averaged .342 at the plate with 124 RBIs and a major league best 37 steals. Robinson’s career fielding percentage was .983,” explains Fueled by Sports.
4. Roberto Alomar
Sliding into the fourth spot on the list of the best MLB second basemen of all time is the legendary Roberto Alomar. Alomar helped anchor the Blue Jays lineup during the early ’90s when the team won back-to-back World Series titles. Alomar could do a little bit of everything including hit and field his position. As the experts explain, Alomar was a spectacular defensive play waiting to happen.
“Roberto Alomar might be the greatest defensive second baseman of all time. He won 10 gold gloves and always had a flair to his game that made his defense must watch television. Alomar also helped the Toronto Blue Jays win back to back world series in the early 1990s. Alomar wasn’t a huge power threat during his career but still ranks in the top 15 of home runs hit by second baseman. With that said, Alomar was still a great hitter winning four silver sluggers, and hitting .300 for his career,” explains Baseball Spotlight.
Top 15 in home runs and a career average over .300 both help quietly make Roberto Alomar one of the more reliable hitters ever at his position. However, it’s Alomar’s defensive skills that make him clearly one of the best MLB second basemen of all time.
“Alomar was one of the best all-around players ever. He was great offensively and defensively. In his 17-year career, he had a .300 average, 210 home runs, 1134 RBI, 1508 runs scored, 2724 base hits and 474 stolen bases. He was selected to the All Star team twelve times, starting at second for nine of them. He is arguably the greatest defensive second basemen of all-time, leading all second basemen with ten Gold Glove awards throughout the 90’s and into the 2000’s,” adds Bleacher Report.
Although Alomar fell short of the illustrious 3,000-hit club, his more than 470 stolen bases more than make up for his shortcoming. And let’s face it, nine All-Star Game starts at second base is nothing short of remarkable.
“If you look at major statistical categories among second basemen, Alomar is in the top 10, if not the top five, in virtually every category. In his career, Alomar hit exactly .300 with over 2,700 hits, 210 home runs, and 474 stolen bases. Keep in mind he’s also one of the best switch-hitters in baseball history in addition to being one of the most well-rounded players of all time and the best second baseman of his generation,” adds Franchise Sports.
5. Nap Lajoie
Rounding out the list of the best MLB second basemen of all time is Nap Lajoie. We know you’ve probably never heard of Nap (Napoleon) Lajoie, but he was one of the best second basemen, and one of the best all-around MLB players, of his generation. Lajoie played during the early 1900s, and his play was often overshadowed by another legendary infielder that you may have heard of – Ty Cobb.
“Nap Lajoie was one of the best hitters and second basemen of the early part of the 20th century. Defensively, Lajoie was also a standout player, leading the league in assists three times and putouts five times. Those who saw him described him as one of the best defensive players of that era. He also racked up over 3,200 hits during his career while batting .339. Outside of Ty Cobb, he was probably the best hitter of his generation, leading to a bitter rivalry with Cobb. Lajoie won the Triple Crown in 1901, which happened to be the same year as the first of his five batting titles,” explains Franchise Sports.
Lajoie actually began playing in MLB in the late 1800s when he debuted with the Phillies in 1896. Lajoie could play virtually any infield position, and as the experts explain, the only thing better than Nap Lajoie’s defense was his offense.
“Napolean Lajoie is the oldest member of our Top Ten and is considered the first superstar in American League history. He debuted in 1896 with the Phillies at first base but moved to second in 1898, where he would become famous. It didn’t matter where Lajoie played in the field; he was excellent everywhere. More important than his stellar defense, though, was his ability at the plate. In an era before awards, Lajoie led the league in key offensive categories several times during his 21-year career, including hits (4x), doubles (5x), RBI (3x), batting average (5x), SLG (4x), and HRs (1x),” writes Pitcher List.
Nap Lajoie was considered the first big star player for the American League, which was just getting started in the early 1900s. Overall, Lajoie amassed 3,243 career hits, 381 stolen bases, and 1,599 RBIs (runs batted in). However, Lajoie only smashed 82 home runs over the course of his illustrious career, which again, came during the dead-ball era.
“Lajoie finished with a career .338 batting average. Following five seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies where he averaged .345, he moved to the American League in 1901 which gave the upstart league its first star player. That season with the Athletics, Lajoie batted .426 with 125 RBIs. Lajoie’s entire career was during the ‘dead-ball era’ of 1896-1916 but he was able to put up career numbers of 83 home runs, 1,599 RBIs, 1,504 runs scored and 381 stolen bases,” writes Fueled by Sports.
You might also be interested in:
- Best MLB Catchers
- Best MLB Players of All Time
- Best MLB Pitchers of All Time
- Best MLB Managers of All Time
- Bleacher Report
- Pitcher List
- Franchise Sports
- Fueled by Sports
- Rookie Road
- Fan Rankings
- Athlon Sports
- Baseball Spotlight
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