New York Yankees' Robinson Cano On Pace To Be Greatest Second Baseman of All-Time

By Matthew Cermola
William Perlman-USA Today Sports

Now that New York Yankees‘ Robinson Cano has put an end to the conversations about who the best second baseman is in today’s game, it’s time to look at how he stacks up against the best second baseman of all-time.

Unfortunately, a handful of the elite second baseman in the games history played quite a long time ago, making comparisons almost impossible. Second baseman Rogers Hornsby, for example, batted .400 or higher three times between 1922 and 1925, topping out at a modest .424. I don’t think anyone knows how to accurately equate that to the game in which Cano currently plays, so why bother?

For argument sake, we’ll make 1940 the cutoff. Only players who began their careers post-1940 qualify. This rules out players like Hornsby, Eddie Collins, Nap Lajoie, Bobby Doerr, Tony Lazzeri and Joe Gordon. I’ll take your word, Baseball-Reference, I’m sure they were all great, but they are out of this discussion. This leaves us a 73-year gap to sort through. Let’s get started.

The post-1940 Hall of Fame second basemen are Red Schoendienst, Nellie Fox, Jackie Robinson, Bill Mazeroski, Joe Morgan, Ryne Sandberg and Roberto Alomar. Unfortunately, since Robinson wasn’t allowed to play in the Major Leagues until age 28, he had just three seasons under his belt at Cano’s current age, making it all but impossible to include him in this. If you’re wondering where Rod Carew is, he played 54 more games at first base than second base, so he doesn’t qualify for this discussion.

On top of these Hall of Famers, the only other second baseman who have a shot to join them in Cooperstown are Craig Biggio and Jeff Kent, so we’ll include them as well.

Since Cano is currently in his age 30 season, we’ll compare all nine of these Hall of Fame caliber second baseman through the same point in their respective careers. This should level the playing field for all, except for Cano, who is only a quarter of the way through his age 30 season.

Here are a top-five ranking by all the major statistics.

Batting Average:                               

1. Cano – .308
2. Alomar – .302
3. Fox – .297
4. Schoendienst – .288
5. Sandberg – .287               

Home runs:

1. Cano – 189
2. Sandberg – 179
3. Kent – 138
4. Alomar – 127
5. Morgan – 125

Runs batted In:

1. Cano – 746
2. Mazeroski – 728
3. Alomar – 709
4. Sandberg – 649
5. Kent – 567

If there was any doubt whether Cano belonged in this conversation, it just ended. He certainly does. He dominates the traditional hitting statistics, leading across the board. With 119 games still remaining in his age 30 season, the home run and RBI margins will increase significantly. Let’s take a look at how they rank by some other statistics.

Runs Scored:

1. Alomar – 979
2. Morgan – 876
3. Fox – 862
4. Schoendienst – 807
5. Cano – 741

Stolen Bases:

1. Morgan – 378
2. Alomar – 340
3. Sandberg – 275
4. Biggio – 221
5. Schoendienst – 68
8. Cano – 33

By runs and stolen bases, Alomar and Morgan dominate, ranking first and second in both categories. Cano compares reasonably in runs, ranking fifth out of the nine, with a good chance to move up a spot by seasons end. Stolen bases, as we all know, isn’t a part of Cano’s repertoire. He ranks second to last, bringing him down a notch.

Overall, it’s evident Alomar, who had five Gold Gloves at this point to Cano’s two, is the only post-1940’s second baseman who can even be put in the discussion with Cano. However, it still doesn’t seem like a fair fight. Through their age 30 seasons, Cano actually has over 1,000 at-bats less than Alomar, making his leads in home runs and RBIs even more staggering while making his runs scored per game almost identical.

While Alomar appears to be the more all-around player, Cano’s exceptional average and power numbers for his position are overwhelming. This combined with his Gold Glove-caliber defense is a combination which has never been seen from this position and puts him in a class by himself.

More work has to be done for Cano to go down as baseball’s greatest second baseman, but at this point in his career, he looks up at no one. Well, atleast no one since 1940.


Matthew Cermola is a New York Yankees and MLB writer for Follow him on Twitter @MCermolaRantMLB and add him to your network on Google.

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