I can’t say I’m surprised, considering it’s the BWAA, but still, when it came down to it, I was actually pretty sure that Roberto Alomar was going to get into the Hall on his first ballot, if only because he obviously deserves to be in and because the ballot was so thin this year, at least relatively speaking. But I obviously underestimated the extent to which the baseball writers fetishize this whole “first ballot or not” thing, and the extent to which some of them still hold the spitting incident against Alomar, despite the fact that Hirshbeck and Alomar have long since made up, are now friends, and Alomar has actually raised money for Hirshbeck’s charity.

Where does Alomar rank all time?

Oh well.

But in any case, after what I felt was the success of my recent experiment with “crowdsourcing” the ranking of the best players of all time to random internet websites, I decided to see where Roberto Alomar might (or might not) rank among the best second basemen of all time, at least according to the collective wisdom of ye internets.

Again, my method was, I randomly searched google to find the first top-10 lists that came up, on the presumption that if they come up first on google, than the clicks and links of millions web surfers must have decided that these are the best, and then aggregated the results.

Actually in the case of second basemen, though, I could not find even the ten top-10 lists that I was hoping to find, so I had to go with just the eight lists of top-10 all time second sackers that appear to be all that exists on the internet. So in order to make the scores similar to my shortstop ranking, and have them still be out of 1000 possible points, I “normalized” the points allocation so that each 1st place ranking would be worth 125 points, where as each 10th place ranking would be worth 116 points.

In total, only 15 second basemen were ranked across the 8 lists. Here’s what resulted…

Top 15 Second Basemen of All Time

(Total number of points out of 1000, with number of first-place votes in parentheses)

1. Eddie Collins – 992 (5)
2. Rogers Hornsby – 992 (2)
3. Joe Morgan – 984 (1)
4. Nap Lajoie – 855
5. Charlie Gehringer – 841
6. Jackie Robinson – 840
7. Ryne Sandberg – 831
8. Craig Biggio – 712
9. Roberto Alomar – 711
10. Rod Carew – 591
11. Frankie Frisch – 587
T12. Bobby Grich – 235
T12. Jeff Kent – 235
14. Bobby Doerr – 118
15. Lou Whitaker – 116

Once again the internets, at least collectively, basically got this one exactly right. The top three at second base are very close and you can almost go with any combination, but you basically can’t really argue with those three guys being on top.

There were several really close races this time. Eddie Collins and Rogers Hornsby were exactly tied on points, with Collins getting the edge due to his 5 first place votes to Hornsby’s 2. Meanwhile, Charlie Gehringer just barely edged out sentimental favorite Jackie Robinson for 5th place by one point, while Biggio’s longevity edged out Alomar’s superior peak also by just one point. Rod Carew was rightly dropped down the list for having played more games at first base than second, but he still was a heck of a second baseman for a long time, and enough people gave him credit to keep Frankie Frisch out of the top 10 by a mere 4 points.

There was a pretty big dropoff in points after Frisch at number 11, though. It seems that there is a near consensus on who the top 11 second basemen are, if not the exact order.

As for Alomar, he got ranked 9th all time, which seems about right: good enough to be in the top 10 ever and thus an easy case for the Hall of Fame, but definitely outside the true inner circle.

So yeah, it’s a good list, although soon to be outdated, obviously, if Chase Utley keeps churning out MVP-esque seasons year after year.

Original Lists

The Best 11 Second Basemen of All Time” (Bleacher Report)
Top 50 Second Basemen of All Time” (The Baseball Page)
MLB’s 10 Greatest Second Basemen of All Time” (Bleacher Report)
Top 10 Second Basemen” (About.com)
Rating the Top Baseball Players of All Time” (The Baseball Guru)
All-Time Top 100s: Second Base” (Seth Speaks)
Top Keystone Sackers” (Baseball Think Factory)
The 25 Second Basemen with the Best Careers” (Seamheads.com)

5 Responses to “Crowdsourcing the Greats: The Top Second Basemen of All Time”

  1. No way in hell was Joe Morgan a better second baseman than Ryne Sandberg.

  2. Nick Kapur says:

    Are you kidding, Brian? Have you looked at the numbers? Joe Morgan played longer than Sandberg, had a much better peak, and posted better numbers both cumulatively and ratewise.

    Morgan has significantly better numbers than Ryno in almost every category imaginable other than batting average. Sandberg’s career OBP was .344. Morgan’s was .392! Sandberg’s OPS-plus is 114, while Morgan’s is 132. Cumulatively speaking, Morgan got 2517 hits, stole 689 bases (!!) and drew 1865 walks (!!!). Sandberg’s numbers, respectively were 2386, 344, and 761.

    Look, I don’t want to say anything bad about Sandberg. Great player, great guy, great numbers, wonderful career. But he was no Joe Morgan.

  3. Well for the sake of argument, lets just say Morgan is an asshole who begrudged Sandberg getting into the HOF.

  4. Paul Moro says:

    Morgan is a bit of a pompous jerk. With that said, in my mind he was the absolute best. I don’t care if he killed someone. A player should be judged by what they do on the field. It’s different than judging the person as a human being.

  5. I think these are about where I’d put them. The top three of Collins, Rajah and Morgan very close.

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