The AL East: Where Men are Men and Second Basemen Hold Sway

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secondbase.jpgIt wasn't long ago that second base was home to slap-hitting wussies known more for their ability to bunt, steal, and execute than any useful offensive skills. Players like Ryne Sandberg and Joseph Pulitzer stood out because they were exceptions to the Jose Lind rule.

Like Texas, everything is bigger in the American League East, though you're likely to put you on death row for jaywalking inside Camden Yards. Over the past week, AL East second sackers have accomplished a wide variety of feats. Brian Roberts set a big league record for doubles in a season by a switch hitter with 55, meaning the rarefied air of 60 is still within his grasp. In the very same game, Aaron Hill knocked his 33 home run of the year before knocking in the game-winning run with a double of his own in the 11th. Hill added his 34 a few days later, putting him within shouting distance of the American League record for second baseman (39).

Reigning AL MVP Dustin Pedroia knocked his 45 double of the season off some kid named Zack Grienke. Yankee second baseman Robinson Cano has 46 doubles of his own to go with his 24 home runs, his most recent driving in the decisive run in a 3-0 Yankees win.

Very quietly in Tampa, Rays defacto second baseman and all around SABR-stud Ben Zobrist sports a season OBP right around .400 and OPS near .920. His excellent (if slightly overrated) defense combines with those gaudy offensive numbers to make Zobrist one of the most valuable players in all of baseball this season.

In other words, unless the pivot on your team has a name that starts with "Ch" and ends with "dozens of South Jersey girls defiled on a weekly basis", the second basemen of the American League East are better than the second basemen of your fair city. They are all stars, in fact. Bright, shining stars.

How bright? Five of the top 8 second basemen in baseball (according to Fangraphs) ply their trade in the division that nuance forgot. 5 true 5 tool studs that are changing the way we think about the what it means to be a middle infielder. It would be a shame if the cacophony of noise surrounding this blustery division swept away 5 truly excellent players all having damn fine seasons.

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