The top three guys on this list combined to play the position for over half the 20th century.
In an era where training was unheard of, Gehringer probably worked harder at his game than any of his peers. The results showed as he steadily improved until his career year at age 34, then sustained his peak until his age 37 season. Batting mostly in the #3 hole, he averaged 117 runs and 95 RBI a year for 14 seasons beginning in 1927. He played his whole career with the Tigers and hit .320/.404/.480 with 1774 runs, 2839 hits, and 1186 walks. He received MVP votes every year from 1931 to 1940. Gehringer played for three pennant winners and won one World Series ring in 1935, and hit .321 in 20 World Series games.
It's hard to pick out Sweet Lou's career year since they were all of the same uniform quality. He won Rookie of the year as a 21-year-old in 1978 and would not relinquish second base for 18 years. Lou had no one incredible skill but also had no weakness on the field - he got 70 or 80 walks a year, hit 15 to 20 home runs, scored 80 or 90 runs, ran the bases well, and was a three-time Gold Glove winner in the field. He only averaged 126 games a season due to various injuries, but still retired with 2369 hits, 244 home runs, 1197 walks, and a .276/.363/.426 batting line.
McAuliffe's numbers don't look great today, but he was one of the outstanding middle infielders of his time. For example, in his 1966 career year he hit .274/.373/.509. The league hit .240/.306/.369. In 1968, he hit .249/.344/.411, scoring 95 runs - average numbers today, but in in '68 the AL collectively hit .230/.297/.339 and those 95 runs led the league. McAuliffe was a steady defender and a patient hitter who was a leadoff man for most of his prime. He finished with 1471 hits, 192 home runs, and one World Series ring in a Tigers uniform.
A great fielder at second and third who could hit .300 in his sleep. Traded to the Tigers in 2005, Polanco hit .311/.355/.418 in five seasons with the team. He was the 2006 ALCS MVP, hitting .529 in the series as Detroit swept the A's. Polanco had a career year in 2007, hitting .341 with 105 runs, 200 hits, a Gold Glove, and his first All-Star berth.
Easley did next to nothing in the 10 seasons he wasn't with the Tigers, but in Detroit he combined a power/speed threat with an underrated glove. He scored 97 runs, hit 22 homers, and 28 steals in his breakout 1997 season, then followed that up with 84 runs, 27 homers, 100 RBI, and 15 steals in 1998. His hitting fell off slightly after that but he still hit .260/.339/.428 with 104 home runs in less than six full seasons for the Tigers.
select one here...