Five Best 2B in Baseball.

     I will spare you from the description of what this list is ranking.  Wait, no I won’t.  I must make sure that there is no confusion with this list.  Five best 2B, ranked in order, right now.  Not taking into account what will happen in 2009, simply ranking them based on performance of the past few years especially, and based on their careers in their entirety.  Each player in their description will include a number looking like such: .300/.350/.430.  If you are for some reason not familiar with that it states in a slash .AVG/.OBP/.SLG.   And the number is from 2008, not for their entire career.  

  • Chase Utley: .292/.380/.535:  Chase Utley might be as complete a player as complete players come.  Regarded as one of the better defenders at the position, even though Utley lacks a Gold Glove.  He is among the absolute best players in the game.  Around three years ago, a Yankee fan said I was crazy for stating that Chase Utley was better than Robinson Cano.  Who is laughing now?  He is.  That is who.  Utley does play in a park that benefits his numbers, but it isn’t as though he is slacking much on the road.  I do wonder how much he benefits from playing in Philly, because Utley on the road slugs below .500, while at home his slugging is well over .500.  Regardless, Utley is the best 2B in baseball, and what separates him from the rest at the position is, well, A LOT.
  • Dustin Pedroia: .326/.376/.493:   Ok, here is the thing.  Pedroia will probably never, ever, win another MVP in his career.  I would definitely bet against it and give odds to whomever I am betting with.  But all Pedroia has done throughout his entire career is produce, at every level, and prove people wrong, at every level.  The thing that separates Pedroia from the next player, in my opinion, is his defense.  Fenway has definitely helped Pedroia, his batting average is 51 percentage points higher at home then on the road.  But Pedroia plays good (maybe better) defense anywhere the game is played.  And although Fenway probably aids his power a little, he has still batted .309 on the road over his career, with an above average OBP.  Dustin Pedroia could be shifted down a spot, and I would not have a problem, but I am going to slot him in here.
  • Ian Kinsler: .319/.375/.517:  Had Kinsler not been injured last season, he would have been a legitimate MVP candidate, even if he did play for a team out of playoff contention (which I don’t really believe in anyway).  Kinsler isn’t as good as Pedroia with the glove, but Kinsler is no slack with the stick.  The only thing that concerns me a little is Kinsler’s Home/Road split.  I know, story of the top second baseman, maybe I am placing too much emphasis on the dreaded home/road split.  But Kinsler has batted only .259 on the road with a league average OBP over his career.  And his slugging dips from .525 to .422.  Kinsler is a very good second baseman, but I think my reasoning for ranking him behind Pedroia has some legitimacy.
  • Brian Roberts: .296/.378/.450:  Roberts is a “two-way player.”  A good defender and a good hitter.  Roberts is far from spectacular at the plate, but for a second baseman he has really hit pretty well in three of the last four seasons.  I almost think that Roberts is underrated at this point, to some.  But he contiunes to play well, even though he was suspected of PED use and all that.  Sure, Roberts had a year in 2005, OPS+ 139, that was sort of an aberration, but even though he hasn’t been quite that good, he has still had three pretty good seasons, out of four, since then. 
  • Robinson Cano: .271/.305/.410:  What Robinson Cano lacked last season, he made up for in previous great seasons.  I know that short term memory can be difficult to shred, but Cano had consecutive seasons of OPS+’s 120 or greater before 2008.  His problem is swinging too often, but he kills the ball when he is seeing it well.  And I firmly believe he will bounce back and become an average player again this season.  He will never take walks, but he will hit a ton.   


  1. joefromnewhampshire


    It was not you, unless you said it to someone else. It was a guy at work. Remember some of the baseball fans at work are the ones that inspired me to start this blog in the first place. The things that propelled me into writing a baseball blog were: Jeter’s defense in relation to Alex Gonzalez, and Jeter’s defense in general. Someone actually called me an idiot because I said Gonzalez was a better defender than Jeter; Utley over Cano was another; and Pedro vs. Nolan Ryan was the other main topic.

  2. joefromnewhampshire

    It’s funny though isn’t it, Julia? Pedroia will always feel like an “overacheiver.” But when we get down to it, he also has some talent, and that is a large reason why he is good. The extra incentive he has seems to fuel him, but if he couldn’t hit a 95 MPh fastball, or get to a difficult ball up the middle, then he just would not be able to do it.

  3. Erin Kathleen

    I agree that Chase Utley is probably the best second baseman in baseball right now, though you could probably make a strong case for either Utley or Pedroia. Pedroia has put up better career numbers than Utley, but Utley has better defense than Pedroia (although Pedroia has tremendous range for his size). Since I tend to favor defense over offense, I would give the slight edge to Utley.

    Are you suggesting that Derek Jeter is not the best defensive shortstop in the league? Sacrilege:)

  4. rosehof14

    Can I throw a point of order in? Can you take another look at Brandon Phillips of the Reds vs Robinson Cano. 2 of the 3 stats your looking at he beats him in on base and slugger. Gold Glove winner in 2008.


  5. evanbrunell

    Hey man could you email me? evan AT I want to ask you a question and couldn’t find your e-mail address anywhere. Thanks!

  6. joefromnewhampshire

    Rose, Phillips is solid, and I definitely looked at his numbers, but I had to leave someone out. Phillips also had an OPS+ of 92 in 2008, and has a career best of 105. so I just didn’t think he was worthy of the top 5.

    Erin, Pedroia better career numbers than Utley? He’s good, but not THAT good. 🙂 Also, I don’t understand what the Jeter comment means…

    Evan, email sent.

    Babu, agreed. Players usually don’t just all of a sudden become bad. Cano should bounce back, definitely.

  7. levelboss

    “He will never take walks, but he will hit a ton.”
    wow Joe, you really ARE an objective writer.. nice words from a Red Sox fan for a Yankee player
    i think that Robbie had an off-year last year.. i think he’s more of a .300 hitter getting a lot of extra base hits.. he’s worked with a trainer this off-season, lost 5 pounds, and played in the Winter Leagues.. he seems dedicated to coming back to his career .300+ batting average

  8. joefromnewhampshire

    I dislike the Yankees Level Boss, but I am not going to say a player on their team is bad simply because I don’t like the team he plays on. I do watch the Red Sox most often, so I am not going to say I am completely objective, but I think I do pretty well. My reliance on stats definitely helps that. Disregard the post on the top 5 1B though 🙂

  9. Erin Kathleen

    Sorry, the Jeter thing was in reference to one of the comments above mine. You had mentioned that someone once called you an idiot because you said Alex Gonzalez is at defense than Derek Jeter (true, but don’t tell that to Yankee fans). Also, I meant that Pedroia had better numbers last season than Utley, not career-wise. It would help if I proofread my comments before I hit submit!

  10. Amazin86er

    I think your top 4 are OK but I would still say Pedroia’s overall game is slightly better than Utley’s. I would not put Cano on the list at all as most of the time his head is in the clouds and he is an undisciplined player in the batter’s box and on defense. I did a similar ranking of each position and here are the 2B rankings…

  11. joefromnewhampshire

    People really like Pedroia here, huh? I do too, but I just couldn’t put him in front of Utley. He was much closer to Kinsler and Brian Roberts in my opinion than he was to Utley.
    And thanks for clarifying, Erin.

  12. mikeeff

    levelboss- if you read this column every day like I do you would know that there is no fairer rede sox fan on MLB blogs. it may be simplistic to say that cano won’t walk but will hit a ton, but lets face it–if you look at his career there is no reason to suppose any different. surely you aren’t suggesting that cano is a better baseball player than any of the players joe has names ahead of him..except for perhaps brian roberts. i would much rather have cano it this point than him.

    yeah joe, everyone seems to love pedroia more than you do…. 😉

  13. Jane Heller

    I’m actually surprised that Cano made the list, and I think you were fair in including him, Joe. He has the potential to be a great hitter (his swing has been compared to Carew’s) and he’s a flashy, stylish second baseman. He needs more discipline in all aspects of his game. I think the loss of Larry Bowa last year hurt him, but hopefully he can get his act together and rebound.

  14. joefromnewhampshire

    And let us not forget about the two previous seasons that Cano had before his down year. One in which he batted .342, and the next he slugged nearly .500. Not to mention his first season was an above average year for a second baseman. He is very streaky, but other than last year his streakiness has resulted in positive contributions, two being very good.

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