Even though it’s one of the most underrated positions in baseball, we were a little curious about the best second baseman of all time.
To do this, we had a lot of options to consider. In a way, ranking the greatest 2B of all time was even more challenging than ranking the top shortstops in MLB history. There seem to be a lot more candidates when thinking about the best second basemen in MLB history.
Best second baseman of all time
In our quest to determine the best second baseman of all time, we decided to create a list of 15 deserving candidates.
It wasn’t always easy separating the best from the best because there were a lot of strong contenders. That being said, here is our list of the 15 best second basemen in MLB history.
15. Chase Utley
For a long time during his prime, Chase Utley was a centerpiece of Philadelphia’s success and one of the best second basemen in baseball. From 2006 to 2010, he went to the All-Star Game every season while winning four consecutive Silver Slugger Awards from 2006 to 2009.
Utley wasn’t the most graceful player, but he played the game hard and set an example for others, making him a leader. He also played on a lot of winning teams during his career, ultimately finishing with a .275 average and 259 career home runs.
14. Jeff Kent
Surely, Jeff Kent doesn’t get any points for being a good guy. But he was an excellent hitter and a somewhat underrated defensive player, even if he was far from a role model or an ideal teammate.
Among second basemen, nobody has more home runs than Kent’s 377 career dingers. He also hit .290 for his career with over 2,400 career hits, so Kent was more than just a power hitter.
He was a five-time all-star and a four-time Silver Slugger winner. In his day, there weren’t many second basemen better than him, especially during his time in San Francisco, so Kent deserves to be mentioned among the best.
13. Frankie Frisch
It’s been a long time since the days of Frankie Frisch, but he’s a player worth remembering. Between his time with the Giants and Cardinals, he won four World Series. Frisch was the MVP in 1931 and also led the National League in stolen bases three times.
His career accomplishments include over 2,800 hits and a .316 average, putting him in the Hall of Fame and putting him on our list of the best second basemen ever.
12. Lou Whitaker
Dubbed Sweet Lou and a member of one of the best double-play tandems in MLB history, Lou Whitaker is a legend in Detroit and undoubtedly worthy of mention on our list.
He took home Rookie of the Year honors in 1978 and continued to play until 1995, collecting over 2,300 hits and 244 homers. Whitaker’s three Gold Gloves don’t do justice to his defensive skills. he was also a great hitter who won four Silver Slugger Awards and went to five straight All-Star Games during the peak of his career.
11. Robinson Cano
He may have been busted for PEDs twice and never lived up to the massive contract he signed with the Mariners, but that shouldn’t keep Robinson Cano from at least being mentioned among the best second basemen of all time.
Say what you will about him and any artificial help he may have received, the guy could hit.
He finished his career with a .301 career average and had a sweet lefty swing that helped him crank out 335 home runs. Cano was an eight-time all-star and also took home five Silver Slugger Awards. Don’t forget that even in the late stages of his career, Cano could still field his position. He had great hands and won two Gold Gloves in his prime. He had some flaws, but Cano was an excellent, well-rounded second baseman who was one of the best of his era.
10. Craig Biggio
It was during his time at second base that Biggio went to six of his seven All-Star Games and won four of his five Silver Slugger Awards. The guy also won four straight Gold Gloves at second base from 1994 to 1997. Thanks to his move to second base, Biggio was able to play 20 seasons, amass over 3,000 career hits, and get into the Hall of Fame on his third try.
9. Eddie Collins
On top of being a great player, Eddie Collins was a winner. He won six World Series titles during his career, five of which came with the Philadelphia Athletics, making him the only player to win five championships with one team who didn’t play for the Yankees.
Collins helped the A’s win a title for the first time in 1910 while also helping them win back-to-back World Series in 1929 and 1930, earning titles two decades apart. In between his stints in Philly, Collins also spent over a decade with the Chicago White Sox, helping them to a World Series in 1917. Along the way, Collins was able to rack up over 3,300 hits, 1,300 RBIs, and 745 stolen bases. In addition to leading the American League in stolen bases four times, Collins also took home MVP honors in 1914.
8. Jackie Robinson
Nobody can deny the impact that Jackie Robinson had on the game of baseball and in the fight for civil rights among African Americans. But he also deserves recognition for simply being a great second baseman.
Keep in mind that he didn’t break the color barrier until he was 28, so he got a little bit of a late start. However, he won Rookie of the Year in 1947, a batting title in 1949, and also led the National League in stolen bases in each of those seasons. Robinson went to six straight All-Star Games during his 10 seasons in the majors and helped the Dodgers win a World Series in 1955.
In the grand scheme of things, everything else is far more important. However, we can’t forget that Robinson belonged on the field because he was one heck of a second baseman.
7. Ryne Sandberg
Playing almost his entire career with the Cubs when they were lovable losers sometimes makes it easy to forget Ryne Sandberg. However, the Hall of Famer surely has a place among the best second basemen ever.
That’s what happens when you go to 10 consecutive All-Star Games and win nine consecutive Gold Gloves. On top of that, Sandberg won MVP honors in 1984 and was a seven-time Silver Slugger winner. Needless to say, he could do a little bit of everything as a true five-tool player. For his career, Sandberg had over 2,300 hits and 282 home runs to complement his lifetime .285 average.
6. Rod Carew
As a pure contact hitter, Rod Carew is undoubtedly one of the best in baseball history. How else can you explain 18 consecutive all-star selections?
Carew went to the Midsummer Classic in all but his final season. He also won Rookie of the Year honors in 1967 and was named MVP a decade later. Of course, hitting for power was not Carew’s strength, as he managed to hit just 92 home runs in nearly 20 decades in the majors.
He also played a lot more first base than second base during the latter part of his career and was never considered an elite defensive player, both of which hurt his standing on this list. But being a seven-time batting champ and a .328 career hitter with over 3,000 career hits helps to make up for those minor shortcomings.
5. Roberto Alomar
If you take away the time he spit at an umpire and perhaps the last two or three years of his career and Roberto Alomar is one of the most iconic figures in baseball history. Among second basemen (as we’ll find out), it’s a short list of players who were better for a longer period of time than him.
Alomar was an all-star in 12 consecutive seasons from 1990 to 2001. He won 10 Gold Gloves and four Silver Slugger Awards during that span, not to mention helping the Blue Jays win back-to-back World Series.
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.
4. Charlie Gehringer
Even Babe Ruth called Charlie Gehringer “the greatest player in the game” during the 1930s. That was the era when Gehringer was an all-star in six straight seasons while winning both the batting title and MVP honors in 1937. On four separate occasions, he batted over .300, had an on-base percentage over .400, and a slugging percentage of over .500 while also striking out fewer than 20 times.
No other player in baseball history has pulled that off more than twice. Such a season would have been unheard of in today’s game. On top of his .320 career average and over 2,800 career hits, many consider Gehringer among the best defensive second basemen ever, as he ranks highly in both fielding percentage and assists, making him a two-way player at the keystone.
3. Nap Lajoie
Nicknamed “The Frenchman,” 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. While those numbers don’t measure up to Cobb, it puts Lajoie head and shoulders above most other second basemen in baseball history.
2. Joe Morgan
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.
Morgan also won five consecutive Gold Gloves during his prime, including the two years he won MVP, showing that he was an elite player on both sides of the ball.
1. Rogers Hornsby
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.
He also won the Triple Crown twice and was crowned MVP twice. To date, Hornsby remains the only player to hit .400 and get to 40 homers in one year. That’s not likely a mark that will ever be matched. While Hornsby was regarded as a bad teammate and a bit of a jerk, no second baseman in baseball history can come anywhere close to matching his offensive prowess.