The following post is part of a Three Part presentation on the greatest second basemen of All-Time. Part One will rate the players by Total Player Rating; Part Two will cover the offense, and Part Three will list the best defensive players.
“People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do: I stare out the window and wait for spring.” – Rogers Hornsby
Our top second baseman is Rogers Hornsby, arguably the greatest right-handed hitter of all time. In 1922, he batted .401, slammed 42 home runs, and knocked in 152 runs, perhaps the greatest Triple Crown season ever. Hornsby is the only player to average hitting .400 over a five year span.
Bid McPhee and Red Schoendienst are rated as our top defensive second basemen. McPhee was still manning his position bare-handed after other players had starting using gloves… and he was still the best fielder in the game.
Jackie Robinson was a spectacular athlete. While at UCLA, he starred as a running back in football, was a top level basketball player, and proved to be a versatile track star. He was also a championship collegiate golfer. He was well chosen by Branch Rickey of the Brooklyn Dodgers to be the first player of African ancestry to play in the major leagues since the 19th century.
Some have called Nap Lajoie the second best all-around player (next to Honus Wagner) of the early 20th century. Nap Lajoie, Bid McPhee, Joe Morgan, Hardy Richardson and Frankie Frisch are listed among both our top offensive and defensive lists for second basemen.
Clarence Algernon "Cupid" Childs (1867-1912) led the AA in doubles in 1890. He was the first in the NL in on-base percentage and runs scored in 1892. Childs had seven 100 run seasons: (1890-1894 & 1896-1897).
Joseph Lowell "Joe" Gordon (1915-1978) hit 25 home runs as a rookie setting an AL record for second basemen. Gordon held the AL record for home runs by a second baseman 64 years before Bret Boone's 36 home runs surpassed him in 2001.
In 1972, Rodney Cline "Rod" Carew (born 1945) led the AL in batting, hitting .318 without hitting a single home run for the only time in his career. Carew is to date the only player in the AL or in the modern era to win the batting title with no home runs. His seven batting titles are behind only Ty Cobb, Tony Gwynn and Honus Wagner. His seven steals of home in 1969 is a single-season total beaten only by Ty Cobb.
Jeffrey Franklin Kent (born 1968) was a 5-time All-Star (1999–2001, 2004–05), a 4-time Silver Slugger (2000–2002, 2005), the NL MVP in 2000 and remains the all-time leader in home runs as a second baseman with 351.
In 1931, Francis “Frankie” Frisch (1898-1973) was voted the Most Valuable Player in the NL after batting .311 with 10 home runs and 114 RBIs. The '31 Cardinals also beat the Philadelphia Athletics to take the World Series (4-3).
New York Yankee pitcher Lefty Gomez gave Charles Leonard Gehringer (1903-1993) the nickname "The Mechanical Man" because of his solid performance in the field and at the plate. Gehringer had 2 consecutive playing streaks of more than 500 games—one from 1927-1931 and the other from 1931-1935.
Jack Roosevelt "Jackie" Robinson (1919-1972) was selected for 6 consecutive All-Star Games from 1949-1954, won the MLB Rookie of the Year Award in 1947, and won the NL Most Valuable Player Award in 1949—the first black player so honored.
John Alexander McPhee (1859–1943) was one of the great defensive second basemen of All-Time. He played for Cincinnati in the American Association and National League, for 18 seasons, in the 1880s and 1890s. Bid McPhee is a member of Cooperstown, and led the NL in 2B fielding percentage for 9 years, and also was a leader in every defensive category during his career.
Edward Trowbridge Collins, Sr. (1887–1951) is a member of Cooperstown and played Major League ball for 25 years, mostly with the Philadelphia Athletics and the Chicago White Sox. In his career, he posted a .333 batting average, and won the AL MVP in 1914. Collins led the League in fielding percentage for second basemen in 8 seasons.
Napoleon "Nap" Lajoie batted an astonishing .426 in 1901 and became the second player in history to be intentionally walked with the bases loaded.
#1 Rogers Hornsby
Rogers Hornsby, Sr. (1896–1963) played 23 seasons, mostly for the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs, from 1915 to the 1930s, and batted .358 for his career. “The Rajah” won 2 Triple Crowns and 2 MVP Awards. He also batted over .400 3 times, and won 12 adjusted on-base-plus-slugging crowns. He also won 7 batting titles. In 1922, he batted .401, slugged 42 HRs and knocked in 152 runs, perhaps the greatest offensive year ever.