D-backs’ Top 5 second basemen: Gilbert's take

April 7th, 2020

No one loves a good debate quite like baseball fans, and with that in mind, we asked each of our beat reporters to rank the top five players by position in the history of their franchise, based on their career while playing for that club. These rankings are for fun and debate purposes only. If you don’t agree with the order, participate in the Twitter poll to vote for your favorite at this position.

Here is Steve Gilbert's ranking of the top five second basemen in D-backs history. Next week: third basemen.

1. Ketel Marte, 2017-present
Key fact: Selected as the 2019 National League All-Star starter at second base

This was a tough choice between and Jay Bell, with the slight edge going to Marte even though he spent a significant portion of last season playing center field. The 26-year-old Marte had a breakout year in 2019 -- he finished sixth in the Majors in fWAR among position players with a 7.1 mark, trailing only Mike Trout, Alex Bregman, Christian Yelich, Cody Bellinger and Marcus Semien. For his efforts, Marte finished fourth in the NL MVP race. He might have finished even higher had his season not been cut short on Sept. 17 because of a stress reaction in his back. Any health doubts were answered early this spring when Marte homered in his first spring at-bat.

“It looks like Ketel Marte is ready to go,” D-backs pitcher Robbie Ray said that day. “I think he could probably take 30 days off and show up on Opening Day and be ready. He’s just a special player. It’s really fun to watch him play.”

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While last year was his best offensive campaign, Marte has been outstanding defensively at second (and even center) during his time with the D-backs.

“He’s special [defensively], too,” shortstop Nick Ahmed said. “His athleticism, his arm, even his instincts are different than most guys.”

2. Jay Bell, 1998-2002
Key fact: Bell scored the winning run in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series.
Fun fact: Bell’s young son, Brantley, came up with the concept of having a bobcat as the team’s mascot in 2000 because the stadium name at the time was Bank One Ballpark (aka, The BOB)

was the first Major Leaguer signed by the D-backs, who announced just prior to the Expansion Draft that they had inked him to a five-year, $34 million contract. Bell played shortstop for the D-backs during their inaugural 1998 season before switching over to second base the following year after the team acquired shortstop Tony Womack from the Pirates.

Bell will always hold a place in D-backs lore for scoring the winning run in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series, but he also holds a unique place in franchise history for a grand slam he hit on July 11, 1999. Bell’s homer won D-backs fan Gylene Hoyle $1 million as part of a promotion in which a fan had to select not just the player, but also the inning in which he would hit a grand slam. Bell was 0-for-12 in the series before hitting that homer.

3. Orlando Hudson, 2006-08
Key fact: Won four Gold Gloves, including two with the D-backs in 2006 and '07
Fun fact: Read from the Og Mandino book “The Greatest Salesman in the World” before every game

came to the D-backs from the Blue Jays along with pitcher Miguel Batista, who was returning after a previous stint, in exchange for Troy Glaus and Sergio Santos. Known to one and all as “O-Dog,” Hudson played dazzling defense for the D-backs while also proving to be adept with the bat.

Hudson brought an infectious personality, and as teammate Luis Gonzalez once said, “He never stops talking.” But along with his words came energy and enthusiasm, which is one of the reasons former manager Chip Hale would have Hudson come spend time with the team to help lighten the mood. Hudson still plays a role in the organization, serving as a player development assistant.

"You have to bring the energy," Hudson said. "Man, how can you not have energy when you get to be on the baseball field?"

4. Aaron Hill, 2011-15
Key fact: One of five players to hit for the cycle twice in the same season

joined the D-backs in a waiver trade in late August of 2011 along with shortstop John McDonald and helped push the team to the NL West title. Hill had an OPS+ of 137 over the final six weeks of that season and followed it up with a big year in '12 when he hit .302/.360/.522.

That year, Hill hit for the cycle on June 18 against the Mariners at Chase Field. Then 11 days later, on June 29, he again hit for the cycle, this time against the Brewers at Miller Park. It was the fourth time that feat had been accomplished -- Yelich has done it since -- and it was the first time it had been done since Babe Herman in 1931.

5. Jean Segura, 2016
Key fact: In 2016, he became the first NL player to score 100 runs and have 200-plus hits in a season since Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun in 2009.
Fun fact: Was nicknamed “Jean, Jean the Hitting Machine” by TV play-by-play voice Steve Berthiaume

was acquired by the D-backs from the Brewers prior to the 2016 season. Although it was his only year in the desert, Segura made it a memorable one, as he pounded out 203 hits while batting .319/.368/.499. He was the second player in franchise history to collect 200 hits in a season, joining Gonzalez, who had 206 in 1999.

In one of his first moves as general manager, Mike Hazen dealt Segura to the Mariners as part of a package that returned Marte and right-hander Taijuan Walker.