Getting us to the 2017 World Series

January 5, 2018
  

70.   ‘S All Good

              From 1978 to 1983, while there was no one dominant player at the position, almost every major league team had a quality second baseman.   At least two of these players, Willie Randolph and Lou Whitaker, were of Hall of Fame or near-Hall of Fame quality.  Davey Lopes had an outstanding career.  Joe Morgan, while not the MVP-anytime-you-choose-to-focus-on-him player that he was from 1972 to 1976, was still an extremely effective player.   Phil Garner was a good player.  Paul Molitor and Bill Madlock, while we don’t remember them as second basemen, had good seasons while playing second base. 

              Frank White won eight Gold Gloves, had over 2,000 hits, twice hit 22 homers in a season, batted cleanup in the World Series for a World Championship team and was in double figures in stolen bases every season.  He barely makes any of the lists.  Manny Trillo was in the majors for 17 seasons, played in four All-Star games, won three Gold Gloves, hit .280 and better several times as a regular, had one of the best throwing arms I have ever seen at second base, and was the MVP of the National League Championship Series for a team that then won the World Series.   I’m not sure if he ever makes a list.

              Part of the problem for the long-time quality players like White and Trillo is that there were also several players who were really good for a period of two or three years and then vanished, like Bump Wills and Tony Bernazard.   Dommo Garcia was pretty good, and Johnny Ray was, and Tommie Herr, and Phil Garner.  

              Randolph and Whitaker and Grich may have been good enough to have been dominant players with lesser competition.   There was no dominant second baseman from 1960 to 1966, and there was no dominant second baseman from 1978 to 1983, but these eras are not the same.   In 1961 and 1964 no second baseman rates at 18.00—a number which would indicate a weak All Star.  In 1978 18.00 wouldn’t make the list of top second basemen; in several other years it would barely make the list. 

              Another point relating here is that the second basemen of this era are far better than the shortstops.   The second basemen are great; the shortstops are weak.   Probably related somehow. 

 

YEAR

Rank

First

Last

HR

RBI

Avg

OBA

SPct

Value

1978

1

Willie

Randolph

3

42

.279

.381

.357

24.55

1978

2

Bill

Madlock

15

44

.309

.378

.481

23.82

1978

3

Joe

Morgan

13

75

.236

.347

.385

23.36

1978

4

Davey

Lopes

17

58

.278

.355

.421

22.75

1978

5

Bobby

Grich

6

42

.251

.357

.329

22.49

1978

6

Phil

Garner

10

66

.261

.345

.400

20.20

1978

7

Bump

Wills

9

57

.250

.331

.347

18.26

1978

8

Jorge

Orta

13

53

.274

.340

.421

18.11

 

     

 

     

 

 

1979

1

Bobby

Grich

30

101

.294

.365

.537

24.98

1979

2

Willie

Randolph

5

61

.270

.374

.368

24.55

1979

3

Paul

Molitor

9

62

.322

.372

.469

22.90

1979

4

Davey

Lopes

28

73

.265

.372

.464

22.19

1979

5

Joe

Morgan

9

32

.250

.379

.376

21.41

1979

6

Phil

Garner

11

59

.293

.359

.441

19.43

1979

7

Lou

Whitaker

3

42

.286

.395

.378

18.36

1979

8

Bump

Wills

5

46

.273

.340

.350

17.99

 

     

 

     

 

 

1980

1

Willie

Randolph

7

46

.294

.427

.407

26.97

1980

2

Bobby

Grich

14

62

.271

.377

.408

23.17

1980

3

Joe

Morgan

11

49

.243

.367

.373

22.20

1980

4

Paul

Molitor

9

37

.304

.372

.438

21.96

1980

5

Bump

Wills

5

58

.263

.322

.360

18.05

1980

6

Phil

Garner

5

58

.259

.315

.358

17.26

1980

7

Davey

Lopes

10

49

.251

.321

.344

17.01

1980

8

Jorge

Orta

10

64

.291

.379

.403

16.84

 

     

 

     

 

 

YEAR

Rank

First

Last

HR

RBI

Avg

OBA

SPct

Value

1981

1

Bobby

Grich

22

61

.304

.378

.543

24.83

1981

2

Joe

Morgan

8

31

.240

.371

.377

21.72

1981

3

Willie

Randolph

2

24

.232

.336

.305

18.78

1981

4

Lou

Whitaker

5

36

.263

.340

.373

18.22

1981

5

Rich

Dauer

4

38

.263

.317

.369

15.15

1981

6

Phil

Garner

1

26

.248

.326

.310

14.49

1981

7

Julio

Cruz

2

24

.256

.332

.324

14.47

1981

8

Tony

Bernazard

6

34

.276

.367

.380

13.95

 

     

 

     

 

 

1982

1

Joe

Morgan

14

61

.289

.400

.438

26.25

1982

2

Bobby

Grich

19

65

.261

.371

.449

22.71

1982

3

Lou

Whitaker

15

65

.286

.341

.434

21.97

1982

4

Willie

Randolph

3

36

.280

.368

.349

20.19

1982

5

Tony

Bernazard

11

56

.256

.337

.396

17.54

1982

6

Damaso

Garcia

5

42

.310

.338

.399

17.48

1982

7

Phil

Garner

13

83

.274

.320

.423

17.48

1982

8

Johnny

Ray

7

63

.281

.318

.382

16.71

 

     

 

     

 

 

1983

1

Lou

Whitaker

12

72

.320

.380

.457

25.79

1983

2

Bobby

Grich

16

62

.292

.414

.460

22.41

1983

3

Ryne

Sandberg

8

48

.261

.316

.351

21.71

1983

4

Joe

Morgan

16

59

.230

.370

.403

20.66

1983

5

Willie

Randolph

2

38

.279

.361

.348

19.36

1983

6

Johnny

Ray

5

53

.283

.323

.399

18.32

1983

7

Tom

Herr

2

31

.323

.403

.412

18.24

1983

8

Damaso

Garcia

3

38

.307

.336

.390

17.64

 

              Joe Morgan is the dominant player at the position from 1969 to 1977—comparable to Lajoie, Collins, Hornsby or Gehringer—but also had off-peak seasons when he was the #1 man at the position four years BEFORE his peak (1965) and five years after (1982).  I don’t know of any other player who did that.  He ranked as the best second baseman in baseball for at least one season in the 60s, the 70s and the 80s. 

 

71.  The Sandberg Time

              From 1984 to 1992 the best second baseman in baseball was Ryne Sandberg.

YEAR

Rank

First

Last

HR

RBI

Avg

OBA

SPct

Value

1984

1

Ryne

Sandberg

19

84

.314

.367

.520

30.36

1984

2

Lou

Whitaker

13

56

.289

.357

.407

24.32

1984

3

Juan

Samuel

15

69

.272

.307

.442

22.18

1984

4

Tom

Herr

4

49

.276

.335

.346

21.49

1984

5

Willie

Randolph

2

31

.287

.377

.348

21.28

1984

6

Johnny

Ray

6

67

.312

.354

.434

20.06

1984

7

Bobby

Grich

18

58

.256

.357

.452

19.76

1984

8

Frank

White

17

56

.271

.311

.445

18.82

 

     

 

     

 

 

1985

1

Ryne

Sandberg

26

83

.305

.364

.504

27.68

1985

2

Tom

Herr

8

110

.302

.379

.416

24.77

1985

3

Lou

Whitaker

21

73

.279

.362

.456

23.86

1985

4

Juan

Samuel

19

74

.264

.303

.436

22.63

1985

5

Willie

Randolph

5

40

.276

.382

.356

21.34

1985

6

Bill

Doran

14

59

.287

.362

.434

19.49

1985

7

Johnny

Ray

7

70

.274

.325

.375

18.67

1985

8

Tony

Bernazard

11

59

.274

.361

.404

17.89

 

     

 

     

 

 

1986

1

Steve

Sax

6

56

.332

.390

.441

24.13

1986

2

Ryne

Sandberg

14

76

.284

.330

.411

23.89

1986

3

Juan

Samuel

16

78

.266

.302

.448

23.19

1986

4

Lou

Whitaker

20

73

.269

.338

.437

21.63

1986

5

Willie

Randolph

5

50

.276

.393

.346

20.69

1986

6

Tom

Herr

2

61

.252

.342

.331

20.01

1986

7

Johnny

Ray

7

78

.301

.363

.394

19.15

1986

8

Tony

Bernazard

17

73

.301

.362

.456

18.97

 

     

 

     

 

 

YEAR

Rank

First

Last

HR

RBI

Avg

OBA

SPct

Value

1987

1

Ryne

Sandberg

16

59

.294

.367

.442

23.08

1987

2

Juan

Samuel

28

100

.272

.335

.502

23.07

1987

3

Willie

Randolph

7

67

.305

.411

.414

22.30

1987

4

Lou

Whitaker

16

59

.265

.341

.427

21.98

1987

5

Steve

Sax

6

46

.280

.331

.369

21.33

1987

6

Bill

Doran

16

79

.283

.365

.406

19.01

1987

7

Johnny

Ray

5

69

.289

.334

.374

18.22

1987

8

Tom

Herr

2

83

.263

.346

.331

17.63

 

     

 

     

 

 

1988

1

Ryne

Sandberg

19

69

.264

.322

.419

24.32

1988

2

Lou

Whitaker

12

55

.275

.376

.419

23.21

1988

3

Julio

Franco

10

54

.303

.361

.409

23.14

1988

4

Steve

Sax

5

57

.277

.325

.343

22.50

1988

5

Johnny

Ray

6

83

.306

.345

.429

20.14

1988

6

Juan

Samuel

12

67

.243

.298

.380

19.64

1988

7

Roberto

Alomar

9

41

.266

.328

.382

19.50

1988

8

Willie

Randolph

2

34

.230

.322

.300

18.55

 

     

 

     

 

 

1989

1

Ryne

Sandberg

30

76

.290

.356

.497

28.78

1989

2

Julio

Franco

13

92

.316

.386

.462

27.80

1989

3

Lou

Whitaker

28

85

.251

.361

.462

24.71

1989

4

Roberto

Alomar

7

56

.295

.347

.376

21.96

1989

5

Steve

Sax

5

63

.315

.364

.387

20.61

1989

6

Willie

Randolph

2

36

.282

.366

.326

19.76

1989

7

Robby

Thompson

13

50

.241

.321

.400

18.76

1989

8

Jody

Reed

3

40

.288

.376

.393

18.21

 

     

 

     

 

 

YEAR

Rank

First

Last

HR

RBI

Avg

OBA

SPct

Value

1990

1

Ryne

Sandberg

40

100

.306

.354

.559

33.03

1990

2

Julio

Franco

11

69

.296

.383

.402

26.80

1990

3

Paul

Molitor

12

45

.285

.343

.464

26.52

1990

4

Lou

Whitaker

18

60

.237

.338

.407

23.92

1990

5

Roberto

Alomar

6

60

.287

.340

.381

22.95

1990

6

Bip

Roberts

9

44

.309

.375

.433

20.61

1990

7

Gregg

Jefferies

15

68

.283

.337

.434

18.92

1990

8

Jody

Reed

5

51

.289

.371

.390

18.76

 

     

 

     

 

 

1991

1

Ryne

Sandberg

26

100

.291

.379

.485

34.03

1991

2

Lou

Whitaker

23

78

.279

.391

.489

26.23

1991

3

Roberto

Alomar

9

69

.295

.354

.436

26.22

1991

4

Julio

Franco

15

78

.341

.408

.474

25.70

1991

5

Carlos

Baerga

11

69

.288

.346

.398

20.23

1991

6

Willie

Randolph

0

54

.327

.424

.374

19.53

1991

7

Steve

Sax

10

56

.304

.345

.414

18.95

1991

8

Robby

Thompson

19

48

.262

.352

.447

18.88

 

     

 

     

 

 

1992

1

Ryne

Sandberg

26

87

.304

.371

.510

30.36

1992

2

Roberto

Alomar

8

76

.310

.405

.427

30.04

1992

3

Craig

Biggio

6

39

.277

.378

.369

28.07

1992

4

Lou

Whitaker

19

71

.278

.386

.461

24.99

1992

5

Carlos

Baerga

20

105

.312

.354

.455

24.52

1992

6

Tony

Phillips

10

64

.276

.387

.388

23.48

1992

7

Chuck

Knoblauch

2

56

.297

.384

.358

20.89

1992

8

Bip

Roberts

4

45

.323

.393

.432

19.65

 

72.  The A and B options at Second Base

              Craig Biggio came to the majors in 1988 as a catcher.   As a catcher he was a mixed blessing, a singles-hitting catcher who ran exceptionally well for a C but couldn’t throw out Orrin Hatch stealing second base.   He led the league in stolen bases allowed every season; in 1991 he led in passed balls as well.   In 1992 he moved to second base.  I was skeptical that this would work, but in his second season at second he hit 21 homers and 41 doubles, and emerged as one of the top second basemen in baseball.

              Roberto Alomar also came to the majors in 1988, as a Padre.  After the 1990 season he was traded to Toronto in a two-for-two trade of four players of near-Hall of Fame quality:  Alomar, Joe Carter, Fred McGriff and Tony Fernandez.  I am not sure there has ever been any other trade in major league history with four stars of that magnitude. 

              By 1993 Biggio and Alomar were the two best second basemen in baseball.   Alomar would help the Blue Jays to two World Series championships.  Craig Biggio was my favorite player in the years after the Royals ceased to be interesting and before I worked for the Red Sox, and this method shows Biggio to be the stronger of the two Hall of Famers.  But I should also point out that Alomar had enormous impact on pennant races. I once did a study of pennant race impact which showed that the two position players who had the most impact on pennant races, post-1900, were Babe Ruth and Roberto Alomar.  It is really not clear to me who was the greater player, Alomar or Biggio.

              Note that Lou Whitaker, who was the #1 second baseman in baseball for a year before Sandberg, survived to be one of the top men at the start of the Alomar/Biggio era. 

 

YEAR

Rank

First

Last

HR

RBI

Avg

OBA

SPct

Value

1993

1

Craig

Biggio

21

64

.287

.373

.474

28.05

1993

2

Roberto

Alomar

17

93

.326

.408

.492

27.90

1993

3

Carlos

Baerga

21

114

.321

.355

.486

24.97

1993

4

Lou

Whitaker

9

67

.290

.412

.449

21.42

1993

5

Ryne

Sandberg

9

45

.309

.359

.412

21.39

1993

6

Chuck

Knoblauch

2

41

.277

.354

.346

20.25

1993

7

Jeff

Blauser

15

73

.305

.401

.436

19.59

1993

8

Robby

Thompson

19

65

.312

.375

.496

17.76

1993

9

Delino

DeShields

2

29

.295

.389

.372

16.82

 

     

 

     

 

 

1994

1

Craig

Biggio

6

56

.318

.411

.483

30.46

1994

2

Chuck

Knoblauch

5

51

.312

.381

.461

24.60

1994

3

Roberto

Alomar

8

38

.306

.386

.452

22.37

1994

4

Carlos

Baerga

19

80

.314

.333

.525

22.34

1994

5

Jeff

Kent

14

68

.292

.341

.475

17.27

1994

6

Ryne

Sandberg

5

24

.238

.312

.390

15.27

1994

7

Lou

Whitaker

12

43

.301

.377

.491

14.65

1994

8

Bret

Boone

12

68

.320

.368

.491

14.60

1994

9

Jeff

Blauser

6

45

.258

.329

.382

14.38

 

     

 

     

 

 

1995

1

Craig

Biggio

22

77

.302

.406

.483

31.47

1995

2

Chuck

Knoblauch

11

63

.333

.424

.487

27.69

1995

3

Roberto

Alomar

13

66

.300

.354

.449

21.95

1995

4

Carlos

Baerga

15

90

.314

.355

.452

19.89

1995

5

Eric

Young

6

36

.317

.404

.473

17.47

1995

6

Mike

Lansing

10

62

.255

.299

.392

15.31

1995

7

Jeff

Kent

20

65

.278

.327

.464

15.13

1995

8

Joey

Cora

3

39

.297

.359

.372

14.80

1995

9

Bret

Boone

15

68

.267

.326

.429

14.69

 

     

 

     

 

 

YEAR

Rank

First

Last

HR

RBI

Avg

OBA

SPct

Value

1996

1

Craig

Biggio

15

75

.288

.386

.415

33.05

1996

2

Chuck

Knoblauch

13

72

.341

.448

.517

29.28

1996

3

Roberto

Alomar

22

94

.328

.411

.527

26.45

1996

4

Eric

Young

8

74

.324

.393

.421

19.44

1996

5

Mike

Lansing

11

53

.285

.341

.406

17.11

1996

6

Ray

Durham

10

65

.275

.350

.406

17.06

1996

7

Ryne

Sandberg

25

92

.244

.316

.444

16.69

1996

8

Joey

Cora

6

45

.291

.340

.417

16.17

1996

9

Carlos

Baerga

12

66

.254

.293

.381

15.20

 

     

 

     

 

 

1997

1

Craig

Biggio

22

81

.309

.415

.501

35.41

1997

2

Roberto

Alomar

14

60

.333

.390

.500

25.92

1997

3

Chuck

Knoblauch

9

58

.291

.390

.411

25.62

1997

4

John

Valentin

18

77

.306

.372

.499

21.52

1997

5

Jeff

Kent

29

121

.250

.316

.472

21.11

1997

6

Eric

Young

8

61

.280

.359

.397

19.02

1997

7

Tony

Phillips

8

57

.275

.392

.391

18.66

1997

8

Ray

Durham

11

53

.271

.337

.382

18.50

1997

9

Jeff

Blauser

17

70

.308

.405

.482

18.36

 

     

 

     

 

 

1998

1

Craig

Biggio

20

88

.325

.403

.503

33.26

1998

2

Jeff

Kent

31

128

.297

.359

.555

25.76

1998

3

Roberto

Alomar

14

56

.282

.347

.418

24.50

1998

4

Chuck

Knoblauch

17

64

.265

.361

.405

23.63

1998

5

Ray

Durham

19

67

.285

.363

.455

21.14

1998

6

Jose

Offerman

7

66

.315

.403

.438

20.28

1998

7

Damion

Easley

27

100

.271

.332

.478

19.49

1998

8

Eric

Young

8

43

.285

.355

.396

17.30

1998

9

Todd

Walker

12

62

.316

.372

.473

17.24

1998

10

Fernando

Vina

7

45

.311

.386

.427

16.88

 

     

 

     

 

 

YEAR

Rank

First

Last

HR

RBI

Avg

OBA

SPct

Value

1999

1

Roberto

Alomar

24

120

.323

.422

.533

29.76

1999

2

Craig

Biggio

16

73

.294

.386

.457

29.56

1999

3

Jeff

Kent

23

101

.290

.366

.511

27.49

1999

4

Chuck

Knoblauch

18

68

.292

.393

.454

22.17

1999

5

Randy

Velarde

16

76

.317

.390

.455

21.08

1999

6

Ray

Durham

13

60

.296

.373

.435

20.36

1999

7

Jose

Offerman

8

69

.294

.391

.435

18.79

1999

8

Bret

Boone

20

63

.252

.310

.416

18.15

1999

9

Damion

Easley

20

65

.266

.346

.434

17.84

1999

10

Tony

Womack

4

41

.277

.332

.370

16.82

 

     

 

     

 

 

2000

1

Jeff

Kent

33

125

.334

.424

.596

32.16

2000

2

Roberto

Alomar

19

89

.310

.378

.475

25.49

2000

3

Craig

Biggio

8

35

.268

.388

.393

21.48

2000

4

Jose

Vidro

24

97

.330

.379

.540

21.00

2000

5

Ray

Durham

17

75

.280

.361

.450

20.84

2000

6

Bret

Boone

19

74

.251

.326

.421

20.67

2000

7

Eric

Young

6

47

.297

.367

.399

16.