It’s a tight race, but here’s a look at which New York Yankees second basemen come out on top as the greatest in franchise history.
Second basemen in New York Yankees history aren’t as historically great as the team’s players who manned other positions. But regardless, there have been some special ones to join the Bronx Bombers squads of the past.
Let’s take a look at the very best of this group.
5. Bobby Richardson (1955-66)
- 1,412 games, .266/.299/.335, .634 OPS, 77 OPS+, 34 home runs, 390 RBIs, 8.2 oWAR, 4.9 dWAR
Bobby Richardson is the only player on this list to have spent his entire career with the Yankees. He held down the fort at second base for New York for over a decade.
Richardson was an eight-time All-Star, three-time World Series champion, and five-time Gold Glover.
He finished second in American League MVP voting in 1962. During that campaign, he led the American League in hits with 209 and additionally finished seventh in that same category the following year.
Richardson was solid for the Yankees during the regular season, but he shined the brightest during the World Series. In fact, he’s the best postseason player on this list.
In 138 plate appearances in the Fall Classic, Richardson slashed .305/.331/.405 while recording a .735 OPS.
He’s also the only World Series MVP in history to be selected from the losing team. He notched 11 hits and 12 RBIs in 31 plate appearances while losing the 1960 title to Pittsburgh.
4. Joe Gordon (Yankees tenure: 1938-43, 1946)
- 1,000 games, .271/.358/.467, .825 OPS, 120 OPS+, 153 home runs, 617 RBIs, 26.1 oWAR, 15 dWAR
Nicknamed “Flash,” Joe Gordon was the best second baseman in the league during his time.
He was mainly known for his great defense: Gordon led the American League in assists four times and in double plays three times.
With the Yankees, Gordon was a six-time All-Star, four-time World Series champion, and is now a member of the Hall of Fame.
Gordon finished in the top 10 in American League MVP voting three times with the Yanks, having won it once in 1942 after notoriously beating out the great Ted Williams, who actually won the Triple Crown that year.
Gordon was the first American League second baseman to hit 20 home runs in a season, which he did four times with the Yankees. He’s additionally second all-time in career home runs at second base.
He held the single-season home run record for second basemen until 2001, when it was broken by Bret Boone, brother of current Yankees skipper Aaron Boone.
Gordon spent the first six years of his career with the Yankees before going off to serve in the military for two years. He then returned for one more season in the Bronx.
3. Willie Randolph (Yankees tenure: 1976-88)
- 1,694 games, .275/.374/.357, .731 OPS, 105 OPS+, 48 home runs, 549 RBIs, 44.3 oWAR, 17 dWAR
Willie Randolph was an incredible defender and one of the very best second basemen of the 1970s and 80s.
He was a five-time All-Star, one-time Silver Slugger, and two-time World Series champion during his playing career in the Bronx. He’s now honored in Monument Park.
Randolph was known for his patience at the plate: he led MLB in walks in 1980 with 119. He still leads all Yankees second basemen in games, runs (1,027), walks (1,005), and stolen bases (251).
After retiring, Randolph returned to coach the Yankees for 11 years and won four more rings in the process.
2. Robinson Cano (Yankees tenure: 2005-13)
- 1,374 games, .309/.355/.504, .860 OPS, 126 OPS+, 204 home runs, 822 RBIs, 43 oWAR, 5.7 dWAR
Robinson Cano, the best second baseman of his generation, would’ve topped this list had he not left in 2013 to join the Mariners after declining a seven-year, $175 million contract offered by New York. Not to mention, his postseason numbers were also pretty low.
During his time with the Yankees, Cano was the American League Rookie of the Year runner-up, a five-time All-Star, five-time Silver Slugger, two-time Gold Glover, two-time Wilson Defensive Player of the Year, and one-time World Series champion.
He finished in the top 10 in American League MVP voting four times (top five three of those times). Cano leads all Yankees second basemen in doubles (375), home runs, batting average, slugging percentage, OPS, and OPS+ (126).
1. Tony Lazzeri (Yankees tenure: 1926-37)
- 1,659 games, .293/.379/.467, .847 OPS, 120 OPS+, 169 home runs, 1,157 RBIs, 46.4 oWAR, 5.2 dWAR
Tony Lazzeri isn’t one of the greatest second basemen in the history of the game and certainly isn’t on-par with the other best-at-their-position players that we’ve named thus far in this series. Nonetheless, he’s the best the Yankees have ever employed.
Spending the first several years of his career as part of the legendary “Murderers’ Row” lineup, Lazzeri was a five-time World Series champion and one-time All-Star.
He finished in the top 10 in American League MVP voting three times (once in the top five) and is now a member of the Hall of Fame.
Lazzeri may not have been so high on this list had that not been the case. Nevertheless, he must be applauded for making the most of being part of such a dangerous lineup and setting the stage for great second basemen to come.