If you haven’t been following Shawn’s countdown of the greatest players in Reds history…well, you should be!

About The Author

Blame Chad for creating this mess. Chad launched Redleg Nation in February 2005, and has been writing about the Reds ever since. His first book, "The Big 50: The Men and Moments That Made the Cincinnati Reds" is now available in bookstores and online, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books are sold. You can also find Chad's musings about the Cincinnati Reds in the pages of Cincinnati Magazine. You can email Chad at chaddotson@redlegnation.com.

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18 Responses

  1. Mr. Redlegs

    Any list of greatest Reds that doesn’t include George Wright in the top 10 and has Dave Concepcion above Frank Robinson and thus far lacks Ernie Lombardi, among several others is completely and utterly lacking an iota of credibility–and common sense.

  2. Shawn

    George Wright played for only two seasons for the Cincinnati franchise….too short for this list. Ernie Lombardi is on there, you missed him. And Concepcion gets points for longevity and defense…19 seasons to Robinson’s 10, and five Gold Gloves to one. I know Robinson was a better hitter. That’s not what it’s all about.

    So, do your own list so I can make fun of it!

  3. Mr. Redlegs

    George Wright was a pioneer player who was the best shortstop of the 19th century, who was the best player in the country on the legendary Red Stockings teams of 1869-70. Bid McPhee wasn’t in Wright’s class. Wright was one of the first inductees to the Hall–for reason.

    If you think Concepcion was a better Red and more important to the team than Robinson was during his time, then your list isn’t based on historical reference but a couple of career lines at baseballreference.com.

    I have been calle dup for historical research and slotting of these sorts of lists for The Sporting News in football and baseball, ESPN Classic’s 50th Greatest Athletes and the NFL’s 75th anniversary team and a few more. You start by knowing something more about the players than core stats–like their impact on their teams, judging them by their era and peers, and never, ever correlate a player from one era to today’s game. Longevity is a nice bonus but not an overriding factor.

    “Greatest” is an easy definition. Was Roy McMillan greater than Wright? No. Why? Wright was the premier player in all of baseball for 10 years. McMillan wasn’t even the best at his position.

    Then you start slotting, pitting player against player. Way too often these lists are too heavily weighed on the modern player. But then, you had McCormick pretty high. That wasn’t so stupid. Pushing Roush so low . . . well . . .

  4. al

    i cna’t weigh in on 19th century shortstops, but a few thoughts…

    i’d have placed joe morgan above larkin, maybe just switching them. lark is my favorite player and has the longevity and hometown flavor, but morgan was otherworldly. back to back mvp’s in world series winning years as a 2b is absurd.

    also, i have to assume that rose and bench are coming as 1 & 2, and i don’t know how i feel about that. not sure where i’d place them, but i’d probably have morgan over rose too. maybe:

    bench
    morgan
    rose
    larkin
    robinson

  5. Chris

    These things are all just for fun, so let’s not get too worked up. The thing about Shawn’s approach (and what seems to be getting people wound up) is that (as I understand it), he’s just counting players’ contributions as Reds. Obviously, Wright was an elite (the elite) player of his era, but two admittedly fantastic, incredible, game-changing years can only go so far. “Peak vs. career value” is one of the oldest debates in baseball.

  6. Brian

    Bid McPhee 305 Win Shares as a Red, 3rd all time in at bats for the team, played during the following era

    Baseball spent most of 1850-90 changing the pitcher’s role from simple deliverer of offerings for the hitter to hit to a legitimate weapon of the defense. Restrictions were gradually lifted on curving pitches (1872), overhand deliveries (1883-84) and running starts (1887). The last major change took place in 1893, when instead of delivering the ball from a 50-foot line the pitcher had to keep his back foot on a rubber slab 60 feet, 6 inches from home plate. The resulting five- or six-foot lengthening of pitching distance sent offense through the roof for a few years but soon thereafter afforded the equilibrium we know today.

    George Wright was essentially out of the game by 1880.

    I know who I think did more for the Reds and for longer.

  7. Mr. Redlegs

    Brian, no. George Wright is one of the most important and profilic players of all time. Without him and his brother Harry–on and off the field–there is no such animal as the “Reds.”

    I know who did more for the Reds.

  8. Brian

    Peak value doesn’t equal worth complete IMO, Wright was great player, who got to ask where the ball should be thrown and played before the game got really fast. Bip traversed through the growth of the game on the field and in the public eye. His value may never have peaked like Wrights, but it burned longer and likely has a greater connection with Cincinnati and baseball n the 19th century because of that length.

  9. Mr. Redlegs

    No, a player can only be compared by the era in which he competes. That’s the only measurement of that player. He’s not measured against players out of his era because he has no control over the rules, his team’s strengths or weaknesses, etc.

    The Wrights were gods in Cincinnati, and when George made an appearance at the 1919 World Series it was almost as big a story as the Series. McPhee was certainly the best second baseman of his era and a defensive master with few peers, but he was never the icon like George Wright.

    In fact, you had to be a very diehard Reds fanatic to know who McPhee was until he went into the Hall 2000. He never had the stature of Wright, Groh, Lombardi, Derringer and Walters, and so on.

  10. Mr. Redlegs

    Obviously I’m passionate about George and Harry Wright since sports history is a staple of my work. So I have a great story to share while we’ve been on this subject:

    In the mid-90s, a friend was browsing a large sports memorabilia show and he stopped to thumb a dealer’s albums of autographed index cards. He was pulling out a few to purchase when he came across one in which he didn’t quite know the name. It seemed familiar but he wasn’t sure.

    Wanting to play it safe, he paid the $20 asking price, figuring if he was wrong he wasn’t out that much money. When he got home he looked up the player and discovered he was from the 19th century, wasn’t in the Hall of Fame and probably wouldn’t be if not already elected.

    So he put the signed index card into a file with his others. Then, a few years later, that name surfaced out of no where for the Hall. My friend went rifling through those autographed index cards . . . and there it was, Bid McPhee!

    He couldn’t believe it. Especially when he sold that $20 index card to a collector for $10,000.

    McPhee’s autograph is excruciatingly difficult to find and one of the most desired of 19th-century HOFers.

  11. Shawn

    My list is not about “stature” or “history” or ephemeral “greatness.” A list of the greatest players to wear a Cincinnati uniform would include people like Christy Mathewson and Tom Seaver, who of course did far less for the Reds. The list refers to on-field contributions to the Cincinnati major league franchise, as I believe is clearly stated in the original introduction.

    You wanna make another list, go for it!

  12. Shawn

    Al, Larkin rates ahead of Morgan mainly due to a longer time in a Reds uni, as I think I pointed out. Larkin has almost twice the Cincinnati playing time. Morgan would rate as the greatest Red ever, simply on peak value, IMO.

  13. Mr. Redlegs

    These lists are, obviously, highly subjective but they are a complete waste of time if they have no credibility foundation in history or natural fact.

  14. Chris

    Well, all of this is a waste of time, when it comes down to it. But it’s a fun waste. Shawn has explained his criteria, which don’t include populartity or subjective “impact.” Fair enough. It’s certainly reasonable to put together a list based purely on contributions between the lines.

  15. Derek

    I have been following Shawn’s list from Day One and have quite enjoyed it, regardless of whether I would have ranked the players differently. He stated his criteria clearly and he has put thought and effort into his list, and I can respect that. Mr. Redlegs, it is possible to state a contrary opinion with some tact and civility.

    Derek

  16. Chad

    I think this is an interesting debate, and one that we’ll probably have for as long as Redleg Nation exists. Of course we don’t all agree with Shawn’s list. That’s the fun in these types of lists…it’s a vehicle for arguing over these subjects.

    Like Shawn says, we can all make our own lists and defend them. They will all be right and they will all be wrong, if that makes any sense. It’s all opinion.

  17. Chad

    By the way, that is a great story about the Bid McPhee autograph.

  18. Shawn

    “These lists are, obviously, highly subjective”–Mr. Redlegs.

    If you are referring to my, singular, list, it is not in fact subjective. If you will take the time to read the criteria, you may see that. I set up the criteria, and then went where that took me.