In this series, Brooklyn Beat writers Andrew Young and Justin Worsley will be examining each position.  See prior position discussion on first base and catcher.

Who is the top second baseman in the game today?

AY: Though there certainly are quite a few players that have caught up the past few seasons, I still believe Robinson Cano is the top second baseman in the game. A true five-tool player, Cano is a seven-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove winner that has finished in the top five in MVP voting four times.  Cano is on pace for a 35 home run and 117 RBI season in his age 34 season. And unlike other candidates that could be named, he is both the most feared hitter in his lineup and a top defensive star.

JW: While Cano has spent the past decade fighting with Chase Utley and others for the spot as the game’s best second baseman, I think the torch has been passed to Jose Altuve. Since 2014, Altuve has finished second, fourth and first in WAR and leads all second basemen in the category this year. Additionally, he is finally hitting for power. While his 24 home runs were significant less than Cano’s 39 last year, he was only .002 lower in slugging percentage and has owned a better OPS than Cano since 2015. He’s also a huge thread along the base paths, twice leading the league in stolen bases. He’s 27, but has already been named to four All-Star Games, taken home three Silver Sluggers and won a Gold Glove.

What under-the-radar second baseman do you think could be the next big thing?

JW: Yoan Moncada gets all of the attention as the top prospect in baseball, but Cubs farmhand Ian Happ has been outperforming him all year. At Triple A Iowa, the switch-hitting Happ has a slash line of .298/.362/.615 along with nine home runs and 25 RBIs. The issue, however, is that he may not stay at second base in the majors. Along with second base, Happ has played all three outfield positions this season and scouts seem to think he is destined for left field.

AY: Known more for slugging Jose Bautista across the jaw than his actual baseball talent, Rougned Odor has shown that he has what it takes to be a superstar.  Despite struggling thusfar in 2017, Odor put up grat numbers in 2016, at the age of just 22.  Odor hit 33 home runs, while batting at a .271 pace.  For reference Cano, hit .297 with only 14 home runs at age 22.  Jose Altuve hit .290 with only 7 home runs and Ian Kinsler, Chase Utley or Daniel Murphy had yet to reach the major leagues.

Who is the greatest second baseman of all-time?

AY: A player so revered they re-named his team after him, Nap Lajoie is a forgotten legend.  Perhaps because he played in the same era as Ty Cobb, and played on losing teams, Lajoie does not get the respect he earned.  Lajoie won the Triple Crown in 1901, hitting .426 with 14 home runs and 125 RBIs.  Lajoie won five batting titles, led the league in hits four times, slugging three times, total bases four times, and doubles five times. He led the American League position players in WAR six times. In terms of his storied career, Lajoie, ranks 23rd in career WAR, 14th in hits, 35th in RBIs, 7th in doubles and 33rd in triples.  He finished with a career average of .338 only struck out once per every 27.6 at bats.  Between the 1902 and 1903 seasons, Cleveland changed their name to the Naps.

JW: He played in an offensive era, but it’s hard to look at Rogers Hornsby and not say he is the best second baseman ever. He had three seasons where he batted above .400 and owns a career .358 average. He had power too, slugging 310 career home runs. He also won the triple crown – twice, MVP – twice and a World Series title.

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