The Top 10 Best Cincinnati Reds of All-time
Ranking the best position players in Reds’ history
As a 30-year-old fan who has followed the Cincinnati Reds closely since childhood, I thought that a list of the Top 10 Cincinnati Reds players in team history would be pretty easy. Boy was I wrong. Sure, you have the obvious Hall of Fame players from the Big Red Machine days, but when you start to look at the career statistics and stats during years that several others had while playing for the Redlegs, the task became rather daunting. I decided to limit this Top 10 list to Reds’ position players for a couple of reasons. First, the Reds have too many good position players to leave anyone off the list. Secondly, I think a Top 10 Cincinnati Reds pitchers list would be even more challenging as the Reds’ have not had the arms to match the great bats in their storied history.
Below you will find my Best Cincinnati Reds of All-Time list, ranked #10 through #1. Many of these positions were very difficult, none moreso than deciding on #1 versus #2 on the list. You will notice the heavy presence of Big Red Machine players from the 1970’s. It is impossible to ignore the talent that the Reds had during this era and when you consider the rich tradition of baseball in Cincinnati it is even more amazing when you look at how many of the best Reds of all-time were all on the same team.
If you have your own site or blog and want to comment on my Top 10 Reds list feel free to do so at any time. For more of my writing for MLB Center check out my review of Great American Ballpark that I completed during the 2008 season.
#10 George Foster – A member of the 1975 & 1976 Reds’ World Series Championship teams, Foster’s best season was in 1977 when he became the 10 th player in MLB history to hit 50+ homeruns. He ended the ’77 season with 52 HR, 149 RBI, 124 runs scored & a .320 batting average and won the NL MVP Award. Foster spent all or part of 11 seasons in Cincinnati and ranks #6 on the Reds’ all-time HR list (244), #9 in RBI (861).
#9 Ted Kluszewski – The left-handed slugger known as “Big Klu” spent 11 seasons in Cincinnati drilling 251 homeruns, driving in 886 runs and batting .302. He ranks #5 on the Reds’ all-time HR list, #8 in career RBI and was a 4-time NL All-Star with the Reds. Likely the most amazing statistic of Kluzewski’s career is that he struck out just 365 times in 15 major league season in 5,929 career at-bats.
#8 Eric Davis – Despite playing his best years in the late 1980’s, Davis is what you call a “five-tool player” in today’s game. His combination of power, speed & defense can be seen in his career stats with the Reds as he spent 9 of his 18 seasons in the major leagues with Cincy. Davis ranks #8 all-time for the Reds in HR list (203), and #7 in SB (270). He was a 2-time All-Star, 3-time Gold Glove winner, 2-time Silver Slugger Award winner and a member of the Reds’ 1990 World Championship team. It was injuries that kept Davis from reaching full superstar status with the Reds as he had 37 HR, 100 RBI and 50 SB in just 129 games in 1987 before breaking his wrist running into the outfield wall at Wrigley Field to end his season and bid to become baseball’s first 40-40 man.
#7 Barry Larkin – The Captain of the Cincinnati Reds in the late 1990’s & early 2000’s, Larkin was the face of the franchise. After winning a World Series in 1990 Larkin was named NL MVP in 1996 and ended his career a .295 hitter with 198 HR, 960 RBI, 379 SB and a .975 fielding percentage at SS, slightly better than Reds’ great Dave Concepcion.
#6 Edd Roush – Roush spent all or parts of 12 seasons with the Redlegs between 1916-1931 ending his career with the 2nd-best career batting average (.331) in Reds’ history. He won the NL batting title in both 1917 and 1919 and was a member of the Redlegs’ 1919 World Series Championship team.
#5 Tony Perez – Perez was an RBI machine during his time in Cincinnati as he played 16 of 23 years with the Reds. His 1,192 RBI ranks #2 on the Reds’ all-time list and he ranks #3 in homeruns and #6 in doubles. A 7-time All-Star, many historians say that when Perez left Cincinnati as a free agent after the 1976 season it was the beginning of the end of the Big Red Machine. Perez finished his career in 1986 with the Reds and later returned as the Reds’ manager in 1993 but was fired after a 20-24 start to the season.
#4 Joe Morgan – In addition to being a member of the Big Red Machine, Morgan is the Reds’ all-time stolen base leader with 406 swipes. He was an all-star 10 times in his career and won the NL MVP Award during the regular season in the same seasons that the Reds won the World Series (1975 & 1976).
#3 Frank Robinson – The only player to be named MVP in both the NL and AL, many do not even realize that Robinson played his first 10 years in Cincinnati. He was the 1956 NL Rookie of the Year and 1961 NL MVP amassing 324 HR and 1,009 RBI while batting .307 as a Redleg.
#2 Johnny Bench – The career leader in HR and RBI for the Reds, Bench spent his entire 17-year career in Cincinnati. Bench was the 1968 NL Rookie of the Year, a part of two World Series Championships, won 10 Gold Gloves, was a 14-time NL All-Star and a 2-time NL MVP. In 1999 he was named the 16 th best player in MLB history by The Sporting News as the highest ranked catcher on that list. Bench ended his career with 389 HR, 1,376 RBI, 2,048 hits and a .267 career batting average.
#1 Pete Rose – Arguably the best hitter of all-time, Rose is not in the baseball Hall of Fame because he bet on his own team – to win. Say what you want, but Rose deserves his place in the HOF and is still a beloved figure in Cincinnati. Of his record 4,256 hits, 3,358 came in a Cincinnati uniform (1st all-time for the Reds) along with 601 doubles (1st), 115 triples (4th), 1,036 RBI (4th), 1,210 walks (1st), .379 OBP (4th) and a .307 batting average (10 th all-time for the Reds). Rose was the 1963 NL Rookie of the Year, 1973 NL MVP, a 2-time Gold Glove Award winner, 17-time All-Star and the 1975 Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year.
Best Cincinnati Reds of All-Time Honorable Mention:
By Luke Jernigan