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Best Second Basemen of All Time in MLB

Best Second Basemen of All Time in MLB

The Best Second Basemen of All Time is the first of a series for KnupSports.

Tom has curated a list of the best players at each position in this article. It’s interesting to note that everyone has their own unique perspective on what makes a player truly great, which can be subject to endless debates.

This position wasn’t as difficult as some of the others. So, let’s get to it!


Let’s dive into the 10 best second basemen of all time one by one.

10. Lou Whitaker

Whitaker spent his entire career with the Detroit Tigers. From 1977 to 1995, he appeared in 2,390 games for the Tigers, third most in franchise history behind Ty Cobb and Al Kaline. He helped the Tigers win the 1984 World Series, was selected as an American League All-Star five consecutive years (1983–1987) and won four Silver Slugger Awards (1983–1985, 1987) and three Gold Glove Awards (1983–1985). The Tigers retired his No. 1 jersey in August 2022. Career WAR was 75.1.

9. Jackie Robinson

Robinson became the first African American to play in Major League Baseball (MLB) in the modern era. Robinson broke the color line when he started at first base for the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947. The Dodgers signing Robinson heralded the end of racial segregation in professional baseball that had relegated black players to the Negro leagues since the 1880s. Robinson was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962.

During his 10-year MLB career, Robinson won the inaugural Rookie of the Year Award in 1947, was an All-Star for six consecutive seasons from 1949 through 1954, and won the National League (NL) Most Valuable Player Award in 1949—the first black player so honored. Robinson played in six World Series and contributed to the Dodgers’ 1955 World Series championship.(lack of longevity keeps him from not moving down on my list)

8. Frankie Frisch

He is a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum and the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame Museum. He is tied with Yogi Berra for most World Series doubles at 10 and holds the record for the most World Series hits at 58 for a player who never played for the New York Yankees, exceeded only by Berra and Mickey Mantle. batted over .300 in his last six seasons with New York. He was also an expert fielder and a skilled base-runner. In 1921, he led the National League with 48 steals, in 1923 in hits, and in 1924 in runs.

With Frisch adding his fiery competitiveness to the team, the Giants won the World Series in 1921 and 1922, winning the NL pennant the following two seasons as well. On September 10, 1924, Frisch went 6-for-7 in a 22–1 rout of the Boston Braves at the Polo Grounds. 74.7 is his lifetime WAR

7. Pete Rose

He was a switch hitter and is the all-time MLB leader in hits (4,256), games played (3,562), at-bats (14,053), singles (3,215) and outs (10,328). He won three World Series, three batting titles, one Most Valuable Player Award, two Gold Gloves and the Rookie of the Year Award.

He also made 17 All-Star appearances at an unequaled five positions (second baseman, left fielder, right fielder, third baseman and first baseman). Rose won both of his Gold Gloves when he was an outfielder, in 1969 and 1970. He finished with a 78.1 WAR. (He would be higher but second base was only one of five positions he played).

6. Nap Lajoie

He was a lifetime .339 hitter and finished 3252 RBI’s. Triple Crown (1901), 5× AL batting champion (1901–1904, 1910), AL home run leader (1901), 3× RBI leader (1898, 1901, 1904), entered the Cleveland Guardians Hall of Fame and Baseball Hall Fame in 1937. His WAR was 76.9.

5. Rod Carew

He won the 1977 AL Most Valuable Player Award, setting a Twins record with a .388 batting average. Carew appeared in 18 straight All-Star Games and led the AL in hits three times, with his 239 hits in 1977 being the twelfth most in a season at the time. He won seven AL batting titles, the second most AL batting titles in history behind Ty Cobb, and on July 12, 2016, the AL batting title was renamed to the Rod Carew American League batting title.

In 2,469 games over 19 seasons, Carew posted a .328 batting average (3,053-for-9,315) with 1,424 runs, 445 doubles, 112 triples, 92 home runs, 1,015 RBI, 353 stolen bases, 1,018 bases on balls, .393 on-base percentage and .429 slugging percentage. Defensively, he recorded a .985 fielding percentage playing at first and second base. In 14 ALCS games, he hit .220 (11-for-50) with 6 runs, 4 doubles, 1 RBI, 2 stolen bases and 5 walks.

He also had a batting average of .300 or higher in 15 consecutive seasons (1969-1983). Carew recorded 7 five-hit games and 51 four-hit games in his 19-year MLB career. He finished with a 72.3 WAR.

4. Charlie Gehringer

He played for the Detroit Tigers for 19 seasons from 1924 to 1942. He compiled a .320 career batting average with 2,839 hits and 1,427 runs batted in (RBIs). He had seven seasons with more than 200 hits and was the starting second baseman and played every inning of the first six All Star Games.

He won the American League batting title in 1939 with a .371 average and won the American League Most Valuable Player Award. He helped lead the Tigers to three American League pennants (1934, 1935, and 1940) and the 1935 World Series championship.

Gehringer was also one of the best fielding second basemen in history. At the time of his retirement, he ranked first in Major League Baseball (MLB) history with 1,444 double plays turned at second base (now seventh in MLB history). He remains among MLB’s all-time leaders with 7,068 assists at second base (second in MLB history) and 5,369 putouts (sixth in MLB history). He finished with a 76.8 WAR. 

3. Joe Morgan

In the New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract, Bill James named Morgan the best second baseman in baseball history, ahead of #2 Eddie Collins and #3 Rogers Hornsby. He also named Morgan as the “greatest percentages player in baseball history”, due to his strong fielding percentage, stolen base percentage, walk-to-strikeout ratio, and walks per plate appearance.

While his lifetime average was only .271, he hit between .288 and .327 during his peak years with the Reds. Additionally, he drew many walks, resulting in an excellent .392 on-base percentage. He also hit 268 home runs to go with his 449 doubles and 96 triples, excellent power for a middle infielder of his era, and was considered by some the finest base stealer of his generation (689 steals at greater than 80% success rate). Besides his prowess at the plate and on the bases, Morgan was an exceptional infielder, winning the Gold Glove Award in consecutive years from 1973 to 1977.

His short height proved an asset to him, as he had one of baseball’s smallest strike zones. “The umpires gave him everything. If he didn’t swing at the pitch, it was a ball,” recalled Tommy John. His lifetime WAR was 98.8,

2. Eddie Collins

After spending all but 14 games of the 1907 season in the minor leagues,he played in 102 games in 1908 and by 1909 was a full-time player. That season, he registered a .347 batting average and 67 steals. He was also named the A’s starting second baseman in 1909, a position he played for the rest of his career, after seeing time at second, third, shortstop, and the outfield the previous two seasons.

In 1910, Collins stole a career-high 81 bases, the first American League player to steal at least 80 bases in a season, and played on the first of his six World Series championship teams.

Collins ranks 11th in the major leagues for most hits of all time with 3,315, and 7th for most stolen bases of all time with 745. He is one of five players to steal six bases in a game, and the only person to do so twice, with both occurrences happening within eleven days, on September 11 and September 22, 1912, respectively.

He was part of the Athletics’ “$100,000 infield” (and the highest-paid of the quartet) which propelled the team to four American League (AL) pennants and three World Series titles between 1910 and 1914. He earned the league’s Chalmers Award (early Most Valuable Player recognition) in 1914.

He still holds the major league record of 512 career sacrifice bunts, over 100 more than any other player. He was the first major leaguer in modern history to steal 80 bases in a season, and still shares the major league record of six steals in a game, which he accomplished twice in September 1912.

He regularly batted over .320, retiring with a career average of .333. He also holds major league records for career games (2,650), assists (7,630) and total chances (14,591) at second base, and ranks second in putouts (6,526). Collins is one of only 31 players in baseball history to have appeared in major league games in four decades.

His career WAR is 120.1. 

1. Rogers Hornsby

Hornsby is regarded as one of the best hitters of all time. He had 2,930 hits and 301 home runs in his career; his career batting average of .358 is third only to Ty Cobb, at .366, and Oscar Charleston, at .364, in MLB history. He also won two Triple Crowns and batted .400 or more three times during his career.

He is the only player to hit 40 home runs and bat .400 in the same year (1922). His batting average for the 1924 season was .424, a mark that no player has matched since. He was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1942 and the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame in 2014. Hornsby’s lifetime WAR finished at 129.1. 

Outside: Ryne Sandberg, Chase Utley, Roberto Alomar

That’s a glance at our 10 best second basemen of all time. Thanks for reading!

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