Lou Whitaker

Of those who only played second base - that is, never switched to another position to extend their career – Lou Whitaker played the longest. He was 38 when he retired and he was still an excellent offensive player and adequate in the field. He had the best final three seasons of any second baseman, of course he was essentially a platoon player. Nevertheless, when he retired he was doing everything he was good at – drawing walks, hitting for power, and driving in runs. He was never that much interested in being a DH, and his personality didn’t fit that role (he became distracted quite easily), which is too bad, because he could have been a fine platoon player for a couple more seasons and padded his career stats a little more. But, he’d made his money and he went home to be with his wife and kids.

As a young player, Whitaker was one of the fastest players in the league, but he ran funny. As a kid he’d been pigeon-toed, and he still carried that with him a little. He had a tip-toe gate to his stride that made it seem like he wasn’t running as fast as he was. A longtime teammate of Whitaker’s told me that he never saw Sweet Lou work much on base stealing, and that he refused to get signs or send signs to teammates on the bases. Whitaker was talented but didn’t really care much about working on the details of the game. That’s the biggest difference between he and his double play partner, Alan Trammell.

Given that he ranks seventh all-time in WAR, was the leadoff man for a World Series winner which happened to be one of the best teams in baseball history, and that his contemporaries awarded him with Gold Gloves and other honors, Whitaker deserves a hell of a lot more than just one year on the HOF’s writers ballot. I have him ranked ahead of eight Hall of Fame second basemen. But the Hall seems to have something against second basemen, as evidenced by the fate of several men on this list.