Kirby Puckett

Kirby Puckett

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Top Ten: Second Basemen

1. Rogers Hornsby: Good way to look at how good a player was is to look at his stats and see how many are in bold. It gives you a good general idea of what the player was like compared to everyone else in his era. I don't think I need to say anything else.
2. Charlie Gehringer: Along with having quite possibly the greatest nickname of all time. (The Mechanical Man) Gehringer hit over .300 thirteen times in his career. That takes some serious consistency. TMM was also an underrated fielder. having the 31st most errors is misleading because of his excellent range. He's second all time in assists at second base and in the top 40 in range factor. So lots of those errors are from plays where he missed balls that most second basemen wouldn't have come close to.
3. Eddie Collins: Collins was a lot like Gehringer. He hit over .300 sixteen times, covered lots of ground at second base and played during the '20s.
4. Joe Morgan: Morgan's .271 batting average is one of the most misleading numbers in sports. Too many people look at it and just decide right there that's he's not an all time great. If someone does that, they're choosing to ignore a career on base percentage of .392, 689 stolen bases and even, four seasons of hitting at least 20 homers. 
5. Ryne Sandberg: Either the greatest or second greatest power hitting second baseman of all time. At his peak, an average season for Ryno was .295, 24 homers, and 29 stolen bases. No modern second baseman has had that combination of power and speed. Add a slew of gold gloves to that, and you have one of the best of all time.
6. Nap Lajoie: See Cap Anson last week. Nap lead the league in 34 relevant categories when he played. Oh, and he gets bonus points for being so popular that Cleveland named their team after him. What are the odds of that happening today? One in seven hundred billion? I think everyone on the Cardinals would have a heart attack.
7. Rod Carew: Ok, I might be a little biased in writing this section. I'll admit it, Rod Carew is one of my favorite players of all time, but it's justified. In a nine year stretch he averaged .344 and 8 triples a year. He also stole home 7 times in his career. Oh, yeah, Billy Martin taught him that, so he should get credit. (For those of you who have never read Martin's book, Number One, go out and read it. It will make you hate Martin about 17 times more than you do right now. Whenever something bad happens to one of his teams, he finds someone else to blame, but that doesn't keep him from taking all of the credit for anything good that happens.)
8.`Jackie Robinson: The fact that Robinson broke the color barrier largely overshadows the fact that he was a really good player too. People tend to forget that he has a career batting average of .311, an OBP of .409 and was one of the best base runners of all time.
9. Frankie Frisch: Hey, speaking of base runners take a look at Frisch. He swiped at least 20 bases eleven  times in his career. He could also hit the ball, ending his career with a .316 batting average.
10. Player A: Let's do the old player A player B comparison.
Player A: .290, .356 OBP, 377 HRs, .855 OPS, 1518 RBI
Player B: .292, .380 OBP, 178 HRs, .846 OPS, 1194 RBI
Slight edge to A, right? That's Jeff Kent. Player B is Tony Lazzeri. So why is Lazzeri in the Hall of Fame and  Kent isn't? Because Lazzeri was a Yankee on the Murderers Row. As always, the lesson is, play for the Yankees. You'll get more attention.
That's mine. What's yours? Let me know in the comments.

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