Willie Randolph was way better than you probably think

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A slow news day so let’s link something good. This from Mike Axisa at River Ave. Blues, going over the career of Willie Randolph, who was way better than history remembers. And better than the guy an awful lot of people call the best second baseman in Yankees history, Robinson Cano:

You needn’t take WAR at face value to argue Willie Randolph, not Cano or Hall of Famers Joe Gordon and Tony Lazzeri, is the best second baseman in franchise history. Randolph is just behind Lazzeri on the all-time hits (1,784 to 1,731) and on-base percentage (.379 to .374) leaderboards at the position while ranking first in walks (1,005) and steals (251). The gap between Willie and second place is 175 walks and 100 steals, so it’s not close either.

It’s not just a numbers case, of course. And the biggest takeaway, I think, is the notion that skills valued and recognized in one era are not always valued and recognized in another, which makes looking back and reassessing players a really useful enterprise. Randolph got on base at a great clip, was a smart base runner and played excellent but not necessarily flashy defense. In the 70s and 80s that sort of mix was often overlooked.

And, really, it makes Randolph awfully overlooked. Go read Axisa’s article and take a new look at Willie Randolph.