The Reds team hall of fame is nothing short of incredible. What they have done to preserve the history of this great franchise is about as good as it gets. I haven’t been to every teams hall of fame, but it is hard to imagine one better than the Reds. For comparison,  I live in Cleveland. The Indians team hall of fame is located in centerfield of Progressive Field. They have a few plaques, and a couple of statues surround by shrubbery. It’s not a bad hall of fame, but it pales in comparison to the Reds indoor, year round operational HOF with 10 exhibits.

Beginning in 2007, new players began being selected to the Reds HOF by the fans voting every other year. It is fun for the fans to be able to participate and select their favorite players. It has however lead to some biased decisions, and some players selected more on popularity than actual merit.

Reggie Sanders was put on the Reds hall of fame ballot for 2014. Sanders was on the ballot with Ken Griffey Jr., Danny Graves, John Franco, and Jeff Brantley. The fans obviously selected Junior, and the Reds veteran committee decided to also add Ron Oster and Dave Parker that year.

——

I was only 8 years old when the Reds won the NL Central in the divisions’ inaugural season in 1995. The Reds went 85-59 in the strike shortened season, and easily won the division by 9.0 games. The Reds rolled through the Dodgers in a three game sweep, but were then swept themselves by the eventual World Series champions, the Atlanta Braves. The three things that I remember most about that season was Barry Larkin winning the MVP, the Reds 10-1 win at Riverfront Stadium to complete the three game NLDS sweep of the Dodgers, and the Reds cleanup hitter (Sanders) not being able to hit a high inside fastball in the playoffs.

sanders2

Reggie Sanders is often remembered in Reds country for his poor 1995 postseason. Sanders went 3 for 13 in the NLDS, but he did a hit a big two-run homer in Game 2, which gave the Reds a 2-1 lead. Sanders really struggled in the NLCS, going 2 for 16, with a slash line of .125/.222/.125. Sanders ended up striking out a total of 19 times in 29 at-bats in the postseason.

Fair or not, what is forgotten about Reggie Sanders is that he was actually really great for the Reds in 1995. During the regular season, Sanders was actually better than his teammate, Barry Larkin, who won the NL MVP.

SandersLarkin

When you look back on that 1995 NLCS now, you realize the Reds faced three starting pitchers who are now in the hall of fame. The rest of the Reds didn’t do all that well either. The Reds as a whole hit .209/.282/.261 in the four games. Gant was 3 for 16, Boone was 3 for 14, Santiago was 3 for 13, and Morris was 2 for 12. The only guy who had success….well he ended up in the hall of fame with the three Braves pitchers. Larkin went 7 for 18 in the series, hitting .389/.421/.611.

Sanders would never have another year like 1995 with the Reds, but he put together 7 very solid years for the Reds. In each of his seasons in Cincinnati, he was an above average hitter (100 or better wRC+). Sanders’ 6.6 fWAR in 1995 is tied for the 26th best season ever among Reds position players. Despite playing in only 805 games as a Red, Sanders career 21.1 fWAR is tied for the 25th best among Reds position players. And if you only look at outfielders, his 21.1 career Reds fWAR is in the top 10.

The numbers themselves certainly should put Sanders in the Reds HOF. Having an elite season like 1995, and being a top 10 outfielder should have got him a good look. What gets even more frustrating is when you compare Sanders to other recent Reds HOF members. Below is Sanders next to each member selected since 2010 with the exception of Jake Beckley, who debuted for the Reds in 1897.

Sandersgotscrewed

The Reds do an incredible job with their hall of fame, and this summer will be especially exciting with the addition of Pete Rose. It is just a shame that Reggie Sanders got overlooked. Let’s hope it doesn’t take 100 years for a veterans committee to see this glaring error.

 

Nick is a lifelong Reds fan who was born and raised in Cincinnati. He acquired his love of baseball from his late grandfather. Nick moved to the Cleveland area in 2014 with his wife, and his currently fighting to convert his beautiful baby daughter Emma to Reds fandom. Nick has been writing for Redleg Nation since 2013. Follow Nick on Twitter @nicholaspkirby.

Join the conversation! 46 Comments

  1. Totally agree! One of the most overlooked Reds in recent history.

  2. While its obviously not all with the Reds, Reggie is one of only 7 MLB players with 300HR and 300SB. He joins both Bobby and Barry Bonds, Willie Mays, Steve Finley, Andre Dawson, Alex Rodriguez. That is one heck of a career. That number may be 8 now, i have to check.

    I remember that playoff series well. Everytime Reggie came to the plate with runners on base I was hoping for a strike out because if he put it in play it was a double play. Just a horrendous hitting display by most of the good guys

    • Phrased in a different way, I wonder how many people would correctly answer the question, “What do the following people have in common? Willie Mays, Bobby Bonds, Barry Bonds, Reggie Sanders, Steve Finley, Andre Dawson, and Alex Rodriguez.”

      Very interesting fact you got there, Preach!

  3. This doesn’t really figure into the Reds HoF argument, but after Sanders left the Reds, he seemed to have a knack for ending up on playoff teams. 😉

    From 2000-2005, he was in the playoffs every season but 2003, playing for the Braves, Giants, Snakes and Cards. He was in three World Series (one with each of the teams except, the Bravos), with one of them a winner, Snakes in ’01. The following year he was in the WS with the Giants for Dusty’s debacle versus Angels. His final WS appearance was as a Card when they were swept by the RSox in 04.

    In the 12 post season’s series Sanders appeared in after leaving the Reds, he had double digit PA’s in all but two and had 9 PAs in both of them, a 3 game NLDS loser in 2000 with the Braves; and the 4 game WS of the Cards by the BSox in 2004. So, it was not like he was just along for the rides as a bench player.

    Perhaps the question is why he was also apparently never really appreciated at his other stops enough for any team to latch onto him longer term.

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/s/sandere02.shtml

  4. Relative to others in the Reds HOF, Sanders is worthy of consideration. In a perfect world, he is more of a Hall of Pretty Good player.

    Sabo shows the downside of fan voting. He had a great rookie year, a great World Series and was hurt a lot. Cincinnati loves the “hustle” guys. I’m sure the Ryan Freel plaque will be unveiled soon enough.

    I always found it odd that Eric Davis was viewed by many as a (baby, weak, didn’t care) because he was hurt a lot and Sabo was (scrappy, hard charging, had nosed) and yet he couldn’t stay on the field.

    • I was also zeroing in on the fan voting. Of the 6 guys other than Sanders on Nick’s table, three of them are local sons; and two of those three came to the Reds later in their careers after establishing themselves as arguably the best player in baseball (or at least their respective league) prior to the homecoming. Sabo you’ve already detailed; and, Casey became an adopted son and “mayor” of the city as much by force of personality as by accomplishment on the field.

      Driessen did not go in until 2012 as a Veteran’s committee choice. I guess they figured he deserved it if for no other reason than the “blame” hung on him by many contemporary fans surrounding the departure of Tony perez after the 1976 season.

      • Driessen carried the Reds in 1982. 101 losses could have been 120 if not for Driessen’s bat…

        • Ha…they should have a special 1982 Reds exhibit. I would pay $10 more to see Alex Trevino’s shin guards or one of Cesar Cedeno’s guns.

          Driessen always looked like he was falling asleep and he seemingly adjusted his cup between every pitch when he was at the plate.

        • They could also have Paul Householder’s bat with a giant hole in it.

        • Russ Nixon’s bulky jacket that he wore even when it was 105 degrees out.

          The Diary of Rafeal Landestoy

          The bat Duane Walker used to record the last hit of the season.

          Take a spin around the block in Frank Pastore’s 1982 Z-28.

          The disco ball from Jim Kern’s living room

        • Larry Biitner’s contract: the first free agent ever signed by the Reds

        • One of my more lasting memories of Dan Driessen has nothing directly to do with baseball. During the era when DD played for the Reds, the team published a newsletter. A feature of the newsletter was a player’s favorite recipe or home cooked food. One month the featured recipe was DD’s favorite, a chicken, shrimp, and vegetable stew seasoned typical of his Hilton Head, SC home area and served over rice.

          My mother being of bedrock midwestern stock, didn’t take much to the shrimp but liked the overall taste. After a couple of iterations, the shrimp disappeared; and, the recipe became known as “Dan Driessen chicken” in our family. The recipe, along with my mother, survives to this day.

        • Not EVER, but since the re entry draft in 76. Never mind.

        • I have Duane Walker’s autograph somewhere.

    • The fact that Ron Oester (career .679 OPS and 9.9 fWAR with the Reds) and Reggie Sanders (career .829 OPS and 21.1 fWAR with the Reds) is pretty terrible.

      • Ron Oester is so terribly overrated by Reds’ fans that it would be comical if it wasn’t so sad. He was a nice little ballplayer but why he’s in the Reds’ HoF is a mystery to me.

        • Agreed…but he was one of those “home town” players…right? Not that that should get him in.

        • What do Oester, Sabo, and another fan fave Casey have in common? It’s Cincinnati after all.

        • LW – unrelated, but just doing this here so you get notified of the reply…

          In today’s chat with Dave Cameron at FG, he mentioned one of their interns was hired by the Reds about a month ago. Thought you might find that interesting.

  5. You convinced me, Nick! Good work! Lets put him in!

    PS – I’m pretty sure I had that baseball card as a kid!

    • I remembered a conversation about him and the Reds HOF a few years ago, and I was very skeptical at first. Then I really looked at the numbers and was blown away. He was incredibly underrated.

  6. My theory for why he didn’t get more recognition, was that he always seemed to be hurt.
    So i looked it up, and the most games he ever played in a season for the Reds was 138. So no doubt, in the games that he did play, probably a good percentage of those, were not at 100%.

    The potential for greatness was there, but injuries prevented that from happening.

    • That is a fair point, however, Sanders played in 107 of 115 games in the strike shortened 1994, and played in 133 of 145 games in 1995.

  7. Put another way, what wouldn’t you do to have another Reggie Sanders type guy in the OF for this team?

    • I was thinking the same thing. Winker seems to be a can’t miss NLT the start of 2017 but I don’t think he profiles to match Sanders across the board.

      • He falls short of Sanders in range, arm, base-running, and probably power. I don’t think Winker will be nearly the player Sanders was. I think Winker will be a good hitting, adequate fielding, very solid, MLB starting outfielder.

        • I think your guess is spot-on for a ‘most likely’ scenario. I think we’ll all be happy if the phrase “good hitting, adequate fielding, very solid, MLB starting outfielder” fits Winker’s career.

          However, if Winker’s power develops, as some scouts suggest it might, he could literally be like an 80% Votto, which is better than a Reggie Sanders, I think.

          I think I’m more bullish on Winker than I’ve been on a prospect in awhile.

          • I’ll take my projection of Winker in a heartbeat. My thoughts on him were in no way a slight. That would be a really good ballplayer. I like your prediction better and hope you’re right. It will be fun to watch.

      • Sanders put up nearly 40 WAR in his career… I think you’re certainly right to suspect Winker won’t stand up to that. Few players do.

        Winker’s only tool that is likely (greater than 60%, I’ll say) to be clearly better than Sanders over a career is the OBP. Sanders .343 OBP is pretty pedestrian given the era he played in.

    • How about Sanders AND Eric Davis, as long as they weren’t hurt at the same time?

      • You bet, GreenMt. Speaking of Eric Davis, didn’t you hear, Billy Hamilton asked to roam CF in #44 now that Leake is gone? Reincarnation at work. Just kidding, just kidding.

  8. Mat Latos signs with the White Sox. Good luck White Sox on that one.
    Mark Sheldon is reporting that Reds LH SP John Lamb had back surgery in December. Surgery on a disc in his back. That throws the #5 spot in the rotation to be completely wide open now. Hopefully it was minor surgery.

    • Not good news on Lamb. Hopefully he’ll be right as rain by the time the season rolls round.

      Funny, a Reds season ticket representative called me yesterday. Seemed very surprised that I wasn’t happy with the off-season and was choosing not to renew my current package (I may end up doing a pick-6 or something). He was talking about all the new young talent and the young pitching, trying to sell me. I told him that I liked the young pitching but was very unimpressed with the type of player the Reds seem to be targeting and that the organization seemed to have very low regard for plate-discipline. I told him we’ll just have to wait and see and that if things work out like he was saying, he could count on me getting a new package in 2017.

      • Maybe the call was also a secret phone screening in regard to your recent application for the analytics positions??? 😉

        • Yeah, when he said he was from the Reds, I got excited. Then he started talking about my season ticket package and I knew he was a sales guy.

  9. Reggie should get in eventually, but it’s not surprising if he will wait awhile. Reggie had so much hype as a prospect and was somewhat disappointing in all but the 2 years mentioned above. What about Brett Boone? I think the issues with him are that he never was a star for the Reds (steroids helped him do that later.) but I bet more Reds fans know him than Reggie.

    • I could see the fans wanting both Brett and Error-on Boone.

      I’m reasonably sure if you asked 100 random people walking out of Price Hill Chili, they would be shocked that scrappy, hard nosed gamers like the Boones, Tracy Jones, Hal Morris and Bill Doran haven’t been honored and surprised that an overpaid baby like Eric Davis has been.

  10. Completely agree Reggie Sanders deserves a spot in Reds HOF. its too bad he seemed to be nicked up. One of my favorite players and disappointed he was traded away. Reggie, Larkin, Eric Davis part of my “what-if” club among others, had they been able to play 140+ games a year consistently.

    Excellent article.

    • I was looking at BBRef in regards to your “what if” and stumbled across something even more amazing to me. Davis was an 8th round draft pick (200th overall 1980); and, Sanders was a 7th rounder (180 overall in 1987).

      I’m thinking there must be more to both stories as to why they were around so long in the draft. Davis was drafted out of high school; so it could have been the Reds took him late and paid high to “buy” him out of enrolling in college; but Sanders was drafted out of a Jr College.

      Those eventual 35+ WAR each accumulated really jumped out from among the blanks in the MLB WAR column on their respective draft pages 🙂

      • I also like going thre B-Ref draft pages, pretty amazing how few low drafted players accumulate much in WAR numbers. Regarding Eric Davis draft, a story I have heard/read was teams shied away from him because the thinking basketball was going to lure him away and thus not waste a pick.

        Also, another common theme both drafted Reggie and Eric as SS but moved to CF.

        • If I’d ever heard the Davis Basketball angle, I’d long forgotten it; but, it makes sense.

          It seems like other than catchers, a very disproportionate number of players drafted out of high school are listed as SS/P in HS, despite where they ended up professionally. I suspect this is because typically these guys were the best all around athletes on their HS teams. I wonder with specialization of development now reaching down into the HS level (and lower) if this is changing this.

  11. I’m disappointed Birdie Tebbetts isn’t in the Reds’ Hall. During the 50s he was the first post WW11 manager to make the Reds a premier contender. This was quite a job considering he had no 1st line pitchers.

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About Nick Kirby

Nick is a lifelong Reds fan who was born and raised in Cincinnati. He acquired his love of baseball from his late grandfather. Nick moved to the Cleveland area in 2014 with his wife, and his currently fighting to convert his beautiful baby daughter Emma to Reds fandom. Nick has been writing for Redleg Nation since 2013. Follow Nick on Twitter @nicholaspkirby.

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