When I grew up watching baseball, second base was anything but a power position, except for the likes of Ryne Sandberg.
As a Red Sox fan, I got to root for second base sluggers such as Jerry Remy (seven career home runs), Marty Barrett (18 career home runs) and Jody Reed (27 career home runs). In the National League, I watched guys like Wally Backman (18 career home runs), Tom Herr (28 career home runs) and Mark Lemke (32 career home runs).
Times have changed. In 2011, 14 second basemen hit 10 or more home runs with nine second basemen racking up 60 or more RBIs. When you consider the fact that there are 30 Major League teams, nearly half of all regular second basemen hit 10 or more home runs this season. Second base is no longer strictly the realm of Punch and Judy hitters.
Dan Uggla (36 HR, 82 RBIs), Ian Kinsler (32 HR, 77 RBIs) and Robinson Cano (28 HR, 118 RBIs) led the assault from the second base position this season. Not far behind were Dustin Pedroia (21 HR, 91 RBIs), Danny Espinosa (21 HR, 66 RBIs) and Kelly Johnson (21 HR). Rounding out the second base power numbers were Rickie Weeks (20 HR), Howie Kendrick (18 HR, 63 RBIs), Brandon Phillips (18 HR, 82 RBIs) and Neil Walker (12 HR, 83 RBIs). Chase Utley of the Phillies would typically be near the top of this list but was limited to 103 games of action in 2011 due to injury and finished with 11 HR and 44 RBIs.
Uggla (190), Utley (188), Cano (144), Phillips (130), Kinsler (124) and Weeks (109) have all hit a total of 100 or more home runs in their careers. Johnson (92) and Pedroia (75) also have respectable career home run numbers for second basemen. That’s a pretty far cry from the career home run totals of Remy, Barrett, Reed, Backman, Herr and Lemke.
The position of second base has enjoyed a widespread offensive transformation. Gone are the days when you didn’t expect much offensive production from your second baseman other than singles, doubles and sacrifice bunts. Gone are the days when pitchers enjoyed seeing the second baseman come up to the plate. Now players like Cano, Kinsler, Uggla and Pedroia are some of the most feared hitters in all of baseball. Second base no longer plays second fiddle.