The number of second basemen on our Top 100 lists, going back five years: three, four, five, three and three. Any way you slice it, one is an astonishingly low number’”even by past standards.
Has the quality of prospects at the position declined? Are organizations waiting longer to move shortstops and third basemen to second? Or are we acknowledging a bias against middle infielders who play on the right side of second base? Generally speaking, they need to be better hitters than their left-side counterparts because they are perceived as not being as athletic.
One way to examine the issue is by looking at the positions big league second basemen played the most when they were in the minors. We’ll focus only on second baseman aged 31 and younger, in order to exclude players who are past their physical peaks. After all, even very good shortstops, when in their 30s, move across the bag to second (Jose Valentin, Mark Grudzielanek). Further consider that among current regular shortstops, only outliers like Omar Vizquel, 40, and Royce Clayton, 37, are older than 33-year-old Derek Jeter.
|MLB SECOND BASEMEN (31 and under)|
|Percentage of Minor League Games Played by Position|
|Howie Kendrick, Angels||23||2B||100%||0%||0%|
|Rickie Weeks, Brewers||24||2B||100%||0%||0%|
|Luis Castillo, Twins||31||2B||99%||1%||0%|
|Marcus Giles, Padres||29||2B||97%||0%||3%|
|Josh Barfield, Indians||24||2B||96%||4%||0%|
|Robinson Cano, Yankees||24||2B||80%||16%||3%|
|Chase Utley, Phillies||28||2B||71%||0%||29%|
|Placido Polanco, Tigers||31||2B||70%||30%||1%|
|Dan Uggla, Marlins||27||2B||56%||0%||44%|
|Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox||23||2B||55%||44%||1%|
|Orlando Hudson, D’backs||29||2B||54%||0%||42%|
|Brian Roberts, Orioles||29||SS||48%||52%||0%|
|Ian Kinsler, Rangers||25||SS||43%||58%||0%|
|Adam Kennedy, Cardinals||31||SS||32%||68%||0%|
|Jose Lopez, Mariners||23||SS||22%||70%||8%|
|Brandon Phillips, Reds||26||SS||18%||82%||0%|
|Freddy Sanchez, Pirates||29||SS||17%||82%||1%|
|Mark Ellis, A’s||30||SS||4%||96%||0%|
|B.J. Upton, Devil Rays||22||SS||0%||96%||4%|
|Kelly Johnson, Braves||25||SS||0%||65%||3%|
|Aaron Hill, Blue Jays||25||SS||0%||100%||0%|
AGE Current seasonal age. POS Primary position in minors. 2B, 3B, SS Percentage of games at position in minors.
Of the 21 big league second basemen who are 31 and younger, 11 of them were primarily second basemen in the minors, though just eight of them (38 percent) played more than two-thirds of their games at the position.
But in looking at the distribution of all games played, big league second baseman are just as likely to have come up at the position as they are to have come up elsewhere. This suggests that most future big league second basemen are presently minor league shortstops or third basemen.
And in case you’re wondering, Hudson and Johnson logged the missing two percent of total games played in the outfield.