Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Best Second Baseman of All-Time

There a few second baseman who could be considered in the conversation of who is the best ever.  Rogers Hornsby was the best offensively, and has been even mentioned as possibly the greatest right-handed hitter of all-time.  Joe Morgan won five Gold Gloves and was the best second baseman of the post-WWII era.  However, neither of them is the best all-around second baseman to play the game.  That would be Eddie Collins.

Collins played 25 seasons, from 1906 to 1930, for the Philadelphia A's and the Chicago White Sox.  In 2826 games, he collected 3315 hits (10th all-time) and recorded a .333 average, good for 27th all-time.  He was only 5'9" and 170 pounds and didn't have much power, but he was one of the best base stealers of his time, tallying 741 by the time he retired (he is 8th all-time).  He was almost impossible to strikeout, doing so only 286 times from the time that strikeouts were first recorded in 1913 until he retired in 1930.

As good as Collins was offensively, he may have been better defensively.  He is considered the best defensive second baseman of his era, having led the league in fielding eight times, finished second seven times and finished third three times.  He had more assists, more chances and more putouts than any other second baseman in the history of the game.

Yes, Rogers Hornsby had a .358 career batting average.  He also didn't really care much about his defense.  Yes, Joe Morgan was a good all-around second baseman, but not quite as good all-around as Collins.  Morgan had 268 career homers and 689 stolen bases but only recorded a .271 lifetime average and 2517 hits.  Morgan only led second basemen twice in fielding percentage, only finished second four times, and only finished third twice.  Collins was also the first great World Series performer, hitting .328 in six World Series, help his teams win four.  Morgan, on the other hand, hit .182 in 181 postseason at-bats.  Collins was just the better all-around player, and is the best second baseman of all-time.