Baseball sabermetricians don’t completely agree on the rankings of the second basemen. If you tinker with their formulas just a bit (and the formulas don’t claim to be precise), there are four different guys who could be considered the best of all time: Lajoie, Hornsby, Eddie Collins and Morgan. All four are rated among the top 24 players in history according to baseball-reference.com. Little Joe may not be the best of all time, but he’s in the running, and he’s no lower than #4.

In the course of his career Morgan was a ten-time all star, and led the league at various times in runs scored, walks, on-base-percentage (four times), slugging average and triples. In his spare time he also won five Gold Gloves and stole 689 bases with better than an 80% success rate.

Here’s a weird scoopism: I haven’t ever looked this up, but I think he must be the smallest man to lead a league in slugging percentage in the integration era (1947-now). He was 5’7″, 160 pounds, and he led the NL in slugging percentage in 1976. He also led the league in on-base percentage that year. He was the obvious NL MVP that year, giving him two MVPs in a row. He then proceeded to slug .733 in the 1976 World Series, as the Big Red Machine swept the outmatched Yankees, who managed to score only eight runs in the entire series.

The eight everyday players on the 1976 Reds, with superior talent at every position and four Hall of Famers among them, are considered one of the best squads in the history of the NL. Five of their eight starters batted above .300, and two of the others were Hall of Famers (Johnny Bench and Tony Perez). The remaining guy, Davey Conception, was a better-than-average hitter in his prime, and one of the best shortstops in the league, having been selected for the all-star team nine times.

Joe’s obit from the Associated Press