Oakland Athletics: Best Second Baseman in A’s History
By Mark Sigmon
In the years since the Oakland Athletics first moved into the Bay Area, which second baseman stands out above the rest?
The Oakland A’s have had some illustrious second basemen through the years. Tony La Russa started 28 games at second for the A’s in 1970, and Hall-of-Famer Joe Morgan played second for the A’s in 1984. Current media stars Shooty Babitt and Bip Roberts (I love those guys!) both turned double plays for the A’s, as well.
When it comes time to pick Oakland’s finest second baseman it is a little tough.
A’s fans lost Tony Phillips this past February. He had tremendous energy and style. Phillips was more of a utility man than a pure second baseman, but he was playing second when he threw out Brett Butler for the final out of the 1989 World Series. On a purely sentimental note, Phillips was one of the best to play second for the A’s.
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Dick Green played an amazing second base in the 1974 World Series. If he had gotten just one hit in that Series, he probably would have won the MVP. Some have referred to Green as the defensive glue of the team that won three consecutive championships. Former catcher and current A’s broadcaster Ray Fosse has nothing but praise for Green’s slick fielding and steady leadership. Green ended up playing 11 years for the Athletics, and he hit 80 home runs for them. However, 41 of those homers came for the Kansas City A’s, so Green might not qualify as the best second baseman in Oakland Athletics history.
It was always fun to watch Mike Gallego play second base. He was the most aggressive defensive second baseman I ever saw play. The license plate on his car read: “Turn 2”. Longtime baseball fans know the strategy with a runner on second and no one out: hit the ball to the right side to move the runner over. If Gallego was on the right side, though, the opposing team needed to hope that they had a fast runner on second. Gallego would surprise everyone by gunning the ball to third. He was fearless on the field.
Gags only hit .232 for the A’s with 23 homers over eight seasons. Even though he did not hit much, Gallego was much loved by the A’s pitching staff for his defense. They say the double play is the pitcher’s best friend, and Mike Gallego turned 384 of them for the Oakland A’s. Mike Gallego was one of the best defensive second basemen to play for Oakland.
When you combine steady fielding with the ability to make the spectacular play, one player stands out from the rest. Mark Ellis was a quiet leader in Oakland. In 2006, Ellis set the record for the highest fielding percentage by a second baseman in the history of baseball. In 2007, Ellis tied the A’s record for consecutive games without an error, playing 70 straight error-free games. He also turned 697 double plays for the A’s in his career.
Next: Best First Baseman in Oakland A's History
Ellis was a dangerous hitter, too. In 2005, Ellis led the A’s with a .316 batting average. He also led the team in on-base and slugging percentage that year. In his nine years with Oakland, Ellis hit 86 home runs.
The best thing about Ellis was that he played the game with grace and class, in addition to his on-field ability. That is why Mark Ellis was the best second baseman to play for the Oakland A’s.
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Who do you think was the best second baseman in Oakland A’s history? Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments.