Today, we'll continue the Wins Above Replacement (WAR) series using Sean Smith's WAR database to rank Tigers second basemen. Other parts of the series including an explanation of WAR can be found in theWAR folder.
As expected, Charlie Gehringer (80.9) and Lou Whitaker (69.7) head the list of Tigers second baseman in career WAR. 1960s second baseman Dick McAuliffe finished third at 35.3. The rest of the top ten are shown in Table 1.
It was difficult to determine a position for super sub Tony Phillips as he did not have a regular position during most of his time in Detroit. His most frequent positions were left field (217 games), second base (203) and third base (170). I decided to include him among second basemen rather than left fielders mostly because the Tigers had more good left fielders than second basemen. It also didn't seem right to stick a versatile player like Phillips in with the more one dimensional left fielders.
Every position has some players who may be recognizable to many fans. The highest ranking lesser known player on this list is Frank Bolling. Bolling played six years on some nondescript and mostly unsuccessful Tigers teams between 1954-1960. His best years were 1958 and 1959 when he had 3.4 and 3.2 WAR respectively. He was a better fielder than hitter with only one year exceeding an OPS+ of 100 (108 in 102 games in 1956).
Table 1: Tigers Top Ten Second Basemen by WAR
Switching from career performance to yearly averages, Table two lists the second basemen with the most WAR per 600 PA (WAR600). Gehringer also led this list at 4.81 but Phillips edged out Whitaker 4.50 to 4.27.
Table 2: Tigers Top Five Second Basemen by WAR600