The ridiculous history of Yankees second basemen

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

When you think about Mark Reynolds, you think about strikeouts. Reynolds is a score of strikeouts behind Pete Incaviglia's career mark, and he's already passed players like Duke Snider, Roberto Clemente, and Ernie Banks. Dude strikes out a lot.

But you're going about it the wrong way. Mark Reynolds is 315th on the all-time home run list, tied with Jimmy Rollins and Barry Larkin. Which helps prove my theory that if Reynolds were a Gold Glove shortstop, he'd be a Hall of Fame candidate. See? Free your mind, people. Just pretend that Reynolds is a middle infielder.

Oh, no, Yankees.

What are you …

Not litera …

No, no, no, no ….

Wednesday night, the Yankees started Mark Reynolds at second base. They probably did it to get into a frat, so let's not make a huge deal about this, but it looks like they did it on purpose. Reynolds is the 54th-least valuable fielder in history according to Baseball-Reference.com, with worse marks than Raul Ibañez, Willie Stargell, and Mike Piazza. That's based on Reynolds's time at third base and first. Reynolds hadn't played second since his rookie season.

The Yankees said, eh, screw it, and put a 30-year-old Reynolds at second anyway. Good for them. To heck with conventional wisdom. The sun can't melt your wax wings if you don't melt your candles in the first place.

It turns out, though that "eh, screw it" is something of a Yankees tradition at second base. Reynolds makes no sense there, but neither do a lot of players throughout the Yankees' history. Let's see where Reynolds ranks on the Nonsensical Yankees Second Baseman list of the last 20 years.

10. Rick Cerone
Spoiler: This list is festooned with catchers. Absolutely festooned. There's something about the tools of ignorance that make the Yankees think catchers can handle second base. In 1990, for no good reason, lifelong catcher Rick Cerone was moved to second in the ninth inning of a close game. The Yankees ended up tying the game in the ninth on a homer from Don Mattingly, but they lost it in the 10th when two grounders got through the right side.

Would a regular second baseman have made those plays? There's no way to know without the video. But probably. I'm writing this article, so probably.

9. Russell Martin
Martin was supposed to play shortstop for Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic before they realized that was like singing a Queen song for your American Idol audition. Everyone was going to notice this, you know. So they backed off, and Martin dropped out of the competition. Phew.

But in 2011, Martin played second for no good reason. The game was out of hand, so what's the harm in looking for a new super-utility player? Martin fielded a pop-up. Whatever else happened made it so the Yankees never tried it again.

8. Francisco Cervelli
STOP IT, YANKEES. Stop making your catchers play second because it amuses you. In case you were wondering, Cervelli never played infield when he was coming up. But in both 2011 and this season, Cervelli logged at least an inning at second. In '11, he had two. He took a force-out throw from Eduardo Nunez, and that was the only putout he made as a middle infielder over his career.

7. Jim Leyritz
Seriously, come on. Stop it with the catchers, Yankees.

In 1996, the World Series champs used a 32-year-old Leyritz at second base on two different occasions. In his last game as a second baseman, he got a bunch of chances, and he fielded them all cleanly. But he must have scared the bejeepers out of someone, because he never played there again.

6. Jorge Posada
My response to another Yankees catcher: Ack. No joke. We're talking straight-up Cathy. Ack.

But this one was kind of funny!


This was more of a case of Posada nearing the end of his career and conning his way into an inning at second. Notice the "22" in the score of that GIF. There should be more of this sort of thing. Jim Thome at third (for a full inning). Adam Dunn at short. Give us a show if the player is okay with embarrassing himself, like Posada clearly was.

5. Robin Ventura
He had a pretty outstanding career, but he'll always be known for something else. A shame. It was probably more likely that we'd remember him for screwing up something fierce at second base in his only appearance there.

But the 35-year-old did just fine. Alfonso Soriano had to leave the game in the second inning, pushing Enrique Wilson into duty, but then Derek Jeter had to leave in the third, pushing Wilson to third. Ventura fielded two grounders in the game, and the Yankees won on a ninth-inning error from the other team's second baseman, Todd Walker. Oh, the irony.

4. Mark Reynolds
In which Joe Girardi walked into Brian Cashman's office and said, "I'M STARTING MARK REYNOLDS AT SECOND TONIGHT" and Cashman responded with, "OH GOD YOU'RE ON THAT JACOB'S LADDER WEAPONIZED HALLUCINOGENIC, TOO?" and then everything caught on fire.

3. Charlie Hayes
Charlie Hayes was built like Pablo Sandoval, give or take. Here's a shot of him making one of the more famous outs in recent Yankees history. You can see how that doesn't look anything like a second baseman. He was also a pretty bad third baseman, in case you were wondering.

He played quite a bit of second in 1997, though. That's not so bad when you realize two teams used him at shortstop in the majors in a pinch.

2. Vernon Wells
This happened this year. Joe Girardi said, yup, head on out to second, Vernon. No worries.

The Yankees used Vernon Wells and Mark Reynolds at second in the same year, and they weren't automatically eliminated from the playoffs. Wells didn't get a chance, but it's the thought that counts.

1. Don Mattingly
This is the best because it came in the Pine Tar Game. The roster permutations were so screwy in the make-up game that Mattingly became just the third lefty-throwing second baseman in the majors since World War II. Look at all the wrong in this lineup:


Alas, we never got to see Donnie Baseball field a grounder at second, or Louisiana Lightning chase down a ball in center. The Royals made a quick out in their half of the ninth, and the Yankees finished the game quietly. Alas.

So Mark Reynolds was not the most ridiculous Yankees second baseman of the past 30 years. But he was up there. He was up there.

What in the heck are you doing, Yankees?

I guess at least it's a tradition with some history behind it.

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