Reds History / Top Ten

Redleg Top Ten: The Best Second Basemen in Reds History

St. Louis Cardinals v Cincinnati Reds

This is the third installment in the enormously popular Top Ten series, wherein we name the top ten players at each position in Reds franchise history.

Previous:

Redleg Top Ten: The Best Catchers in Reds History
Redleg Top Ten: The Best First Basemen in Reds History

Today, we take a look at the all-time best Cincinnati second basemen. In terms of depth, this may be the weakest of all the positions that we’re going to examine; only eight second baseman have ever compiled 10+ bWAR in a Reds uniform. But the top of the list could not be stronger.

morgan_mvp1. Joe Morgan. 1972-1979. This one was a bit of a no-brainer. When it comes to Reds second basemen, it’s Joe Morgan, then everyone else.

In most corners, Morgan is considered the greatest second baseman in the history of this grand game of baseball. He’s certainly the best one to play in Cincinnati and, again, it’s not even close. Take a look at his numbers over an eight-year Cincinnati career:

–.288/.415/.470
–147 OPS+
–150 wRC+
–.400 wOBA
–152 home runs, 612 RBI, 406 stolen bases, 220 doubles, 27 triples
–1155 hits, 816 runs

Morgan ranks in the top three of all-time Reds 2Bs in pretty much every offensive category (except games played, where he ranks fourth). No Reds second baseman has ever posted a higher on-base percentage, slugging percentage, wRC+, wOBA, or OPS+. In most of those categories, no one is in the same stratosphere as Morgan. He’s so far ahead of every other 2B in Reds history that it’s almost laughable. It’s like he was playing a different sport.*

*As Jules Winnfield might say: “Ain’t the same *** ballpark, it ain’t the same league, it ain’t even the same *** sport.”

Morgan was known as the catalyst of the Big Red Machine, and the 1972 trade that brought him to Cincinnati immediately paid dividends. The top five single seasons by a 2B in Reds history were all posted by Joe Morgan (and six of the top eight). That includes Morgan’s 1975, in which he hit .327/.466/.508 with 17 HR, 94 RBI, 132 walks, and 10.9 wins above replacement. At season’s end, Morgan was rewarded with the National League MVP. “I have never seen anyone, and I mean anyone, play better than Joe has played this year,” said his manager, Sparky Anderson.

The following season, 1976, Morgan almost topped himself. He won his second consecutive MVP award as the Reds won their second consecutive World Series. Morgan hit .320/.444/.576 with 27 HR, 111 RBI, 114 walks, and 9.6 bWAR. He also won his fourth consecutive Gold Glove; in 1977, Morgan would run that streak to five Gold Gloves in a row.

The Reds parted ways with Morgan following his age-35 season in 1979, but his eight years in Cincinnati represented the high point of this franchise’s history. He’s an inner circle Hall of Famer, and one of the best players ever to wear a Cincinnati uniform. Add one more honor to his resume: Redleg Nation has named him the greatest Reds second baseman of all-time. Very impressive, eh?

McPhee Bid 141-46_Act_PD2. Bid McPhee. 1882-1899. The only other baseball Hall of Famer on this list, McPhee played his entire 18-year career in Cincinnati. It was a career that almost didn’t happen:

However, as the spring of 1882 approached and the time of reporting to Cincinnati drew near, McPhee, who held the position of bookkeeper in a business house in Akron, became possessed with the idea that he had achieved all the fame he desired in baseball and that he would settle down to be a. businessman. It required considerable persuasion to induce McPhee to give up his books, and it was only after dozens of letters had been written and several trips made to Akron by Cincinnati officials that he decided to continue his career on the diamond.

McPhee was lauded in the Cincinnati newspapers as an “honest man and the best second baseman in the world.” However, in his and his team’s first game against Pittsburgh on May 2 in Cincinnati, McPhee made a very poor showing. McPhee later referred to his own play as “rotten” and he provoked hoots and jeers from the Cincinnati fandom, who suffered through a 10-9 loss. In an 1890 interview, McPhee recalled. “What broke me up worse than anything else was a little episode that occurred after the game. I boarded a Clark streetcar as soon as I changed my clothes, and leaned against the rail of the rear platform, which was crowded with baseball enthusiasts going home. In my citizen’s attire none of the cranks knew me. They had evidently lost some money on the game and, as I had contributed more than anyone else to the Waterloo, I was the special target for their abuse. ‘That stiff they played on second base today made me sick,’ said one of the crowd. ‘What’s his name? McPhee? Yes, that’s it. Maybe he didn’t work the Cincinnati Club about wanting to keep books! He ought to have staved in Akron. He might be a good bookkeeper, but he is a rotten ballplayer!’ And so it went. I dropped off the car without making my identity known, and at that time fully coincided with their views that I could do better at bookkeeping than I could at ball playing.”

You may have noticed that it was a different time. McPhee stuck around Porkopolis, and lived up to his advance billing as the best second baseman in the game. Over his 18 years in Cincinnati, McPhee compiled 52.4 bWAR (62.7 fWAR) while hitting .272/.355/.373. He played in more games (2138) than any other Reds 2B, and he also tops the club charts in walks (982), stolen bases (568), triples (189, nearly three times more than the next-highest total), and Def –Defensive Runs Above Average — (193.1).

McPhee could hit, certainly, but he made his name with his prowess defensively. That’s all the more interesting, given that he mostly played bare-handed:

McPhee led American Association second basemen in double plays every season the Red Stockings played in that league. In six out of eight seasons, McPhee led in fielding percentage. Playing bare-handed for most of his 18 seasons in Cincinnati, McPhee led American Association (1882-1889) and National League (1890-1899) second baseman in putouts eight times, assists six times, double plays eleven times, total chances per game six times, and fielding percentage nine times. McPhee remains the all-time leader among second basemen in putouts (6,552), and his 529 putouts in 1886 is the single-season major league record. He is also second in total chances (14,263) and fourth in assists (6,919).

Only three players have spent their entire career in Cincinnati and been elected to the baseball Hall of Fame. Johnny Bench, Barry Larkin, and Bid McPhee. McPhee’s election came in 2000, more than a century after he last appeared on a big league field.

freylonny3. Lonny Frey. 1938-1946. The next two spots on this list were the most difficult for me, and I flip-flopped them several times. Ultimately, I believe that Lonny Frey barely edges out the guy below him.

Linus Reinhard Frey was purchased by the Reds from the Chicago Cubs in February 1938, and it was a perfect fit. But more on that in a moment. I’m a sucker for stories like this one:

Initially, soccer was his sport. He enjoyed baseball and grew up a rabid St. Louis Cardinals fan, but never thought very seriously about making a living at the game. As Frey entered his twenties, he secured a job as a secretary at a meat-packing plant. He played sandlot baseball in the evenings and on weekends, but that was as far as it went.

Then one day in 1931, he arrived at work to find a layoff notice. In the throes of the Great Depression, Frey and the other junior staffers were out of a job. After weeks of searching for work unsuccessfully, he decided to attend an open tryout with the Cardinals. Frey needed a job and baseball was one of his few marketable skills.

Ultimately, Frey worked his way up to the big leagues, debuting with Brooklyn at the tender age of 22. For four seasons with the Dodgers and one with the Cubs, Frey was a decent-hitter but a miserable defensive shortstop.

Upon coming to Cincinnati, Reds manager Bill McKechnie immediately converted the scrawny Frey to second base. The rest, as they say, is history.

After an acceptable initial season with the Reds, Frey went on a five-year tear that ranks among the best ever seen by a Reds second baseman. From 1939 to 1943, Frey posted bWAR totals of 5.9, 5.9, 3.6, 5.2, and 4.5, making three National League All-Star teams and leading the Reds to two National League pennants and the club’s first World Series championship in more than two decades. Three of those seasons rank among the top ten individual single seasons ever posted by a Reds 2B.

More amazingly, Frey became a brilliant defensive player at second base. Certainly, he was recognized in his own time as the league’s top defensive second-sacker, but the defensive metrics we have available seem to bear this out. Frey is second only to Bid McPhee in career Def; he’s far ahead of #3 on that list, Brandon Phillips, despite playing four fewer seasons than BP in a Reds uniform. Similarly, Frey posted 13.4 career defensive WAR for the Reds, compared to Phillips’ 8.5.*

*I point this out only to show how good Frey was as a defender, and why I gave him a slight edge over Phillips in these rankings. It is certainly not intended to denigrate Phillips, who was an amazing defensive player in his own right, and who will be complimented thoroughly in the next section.

Unfortunately, after an excellent 1943 season, Frey’s career was interrupted by the war. He spent two seasons in the service, and when he returned, he wasn’t the same player. “I just didn’t have it anymore,” he said. “Two years in the service and you lose it…. I was just too old, I guess.”

In April of 1947, the Reds sold Frey back to the Cubs, putting a cap on a brilliant Cincinnati career. He continues to rank among the greatest Reds 2Bs ever in a number of categories, including wRC+ (108, 3rd in Reds history), wOBA (.344, 4th), OPS+ (103, 6th), and OBP (.358, 6th).

MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at Cincinnati Reds4. Brandon Phillips. 2006-present. We’ve all witnessed the career of Brandon Phillips in Cincinnati, and what a fun ride it’s been.

Phillips’ entire Cincinnati career has unfolded during what will be known to baseball historians as the “Redleg Nation Era.” His first mention here at RN was a brief post on April 7, 2006, the day he was traded here from Cleveland for a player to be named later (who was later named Jeff Stevens):

Reds have acquired Brandon Phillips from the Indians for a PTBNL. Phillips was out of options.

Phillips is expected to report to Cincinnati in time for Saturday’s game against Pittsburgh, which will require some move on the 25 man roster.

To make room on the 40 man roster, they designated Matt Kata for assignment.

A couple of days later, I noted the corresponding roster move, along with my brief thoughts:

I hadn’t mentioned it yet, but Chris Denorfia was sent to AAA Louisville last night to make room for Brandon Phillips on the Cincinnati roster. Wayne Krivsky’s hopes for a roster full of middle infielders remain alive.

All joking aside, I look forward to seeing Phillips play. He was an outstanding prospect at one time, and there’s still a chance he can live up to that reputation. Of course, everyone said that about D’Angelo Jimenez, too, and he seemed to have similar issues as Phillips.

Yes, you could say Phillips lived up to that reputation. Early on, we were just hoping for “a younger cheaper version of [Tony] Womack.” What we got instead was a Reds Hall of Famer.

Early last season, I wrote a piece for Cincinnati Magazine that summed up my thoughts about Brandon Phillips:

It’s because I love Reds history, and BP is a really significant player in the history of this franchise.

Did you know that only seven players in club history have accumulated more plate appearances in a Reds uniform than Brandon Phillips? This team has been around forever, and BP is 8th on the list, behind guys like Rose, Concepcion, Larkin, and Bench. Similarly, Phillips is eighth all-time in games played for Cincinnati. There’s something to be said for that longevity.

He’s been fairly productive, too, depending on how you look at the numbers. Brandon is ninth on the Reds all-time hits list, with 1,635 (I bet you can guess who’s number one). He’s ninth all-time in doubles (282), 13th in home runs (181), 11th in RBI (794), eighth in stolen bases (183).* Yes, these are counting numbers, and I’m not trying to say that BP has been a better player than a bunch of names behind him on these lists. But Phillips actually did those things, on the field, for your Cincinnati Redlegs. It makes him a significant figure in the history of the club.

*And he’s 29th in bases on balls, behind Bobby Adams and Ron Oester.

It’s even starker when you compare Phillips to other second basemen in Reds history. He’s played 200-plus more games than any other Cincinnati second sacker, and tops the lists of hits, home runs, doubles, and RBI. And though we don’t have the metrics to prove it definitively, Phillips is as good defensively as any of the rest of them, or at least in the neighborhood.

(Note: BP is actually only #2 in games played and runs batted in. I wasn’t counting pre-1900 Bid McPhee when I wrote that piece.)

It has been an incredible 11+ year career, almost any way you look at it. Phillips has hit .279/.325/.429, he’s made three All-Star teams, and won four Gold Gloves. He has been a regular fixture on the nightly highlight reels for his miraculous fielding exploits, and he also swung a pretty mean bat over the last decade. In addition to the counting stats mentioned above, Phillips’ slugging percentage is fourth-best among Reds 2Bs, and he ranks highly in OPS+ (99, 7th all-time) and wRC+ (98, also 7th). He’s third in both bWAR and fWAR.

As I’ve noted here (and on the podcast) many times, we’ll always have a soft spot for Brandon Phillips in my household. He’s my son’s favorite player, as you’d notice if you watched him play second base every summer in his #4 uniform on the local diamonds. In fact, my son thinks I’m insane, and many of you may concur. He thinks Phillips should be number one on this list.

tony-cuccinello-45. Tony Cuccinello. 1930-1931. This may be a reach — Cuccinello was only a Red for two seasons — but I think it’s defensible to place Cuccinello this high. That’s based almost exclusively on his brilliant 1931 season — plus one more little contribution he made to Reds history.

More on that in a moment. Cuccinello was exactly what you might expect: a “diminutive Italian from Astoria, New York, on Long Island.”

Cuccinello had a solid rookie season, batting .312 with 10 home runs and 78 RBIs. In 1931 the Reds shifted Tony to second base and he responded with a .315 average and 93 RBIs, a club record for second basemen until broken by Joe Morgan in 1975. In his best offensive performance that year he got hits in six consecutive at-bats, including two doubles and a triple. He led the league’s second basemen in putouts, assists, errors, and double plays.

Despite Cuccinello’s performances on the field, he refused to sign the contract the Reds tendered to him and found himself shipped to the Brooklyn Dodgers to begin the 1932 season.

Again, more on that in a moment. Cuccinello compiled 7.0 bWAR in his two-season stint with the Redlegs. Those were his first two seasons in the big leagues, at ages 22-23. As noted above, 1931 was his masterpiece. “Cooch” hit .315/.374/.431, with a 122 OPS+, 39 doubles, 11 triples, .371 wOBA, 120 wRC+.

That’s a 5.2 WAR season. Only Joe Morgan, Lonny Frey, and Pete Rose have ever had a better season as a Cincinnati second baseman.

Yes, it was only two seasons, but Cuccinello’s batting average, OBP, SLG, OPS+, wRC+, and wOBA all rank second only to Joe Morgan in Reds history. He makes it onto this list thanks to the classic Hall of Fame argument: peak vs. longevity. Frankly, there aren’t a ton of great second baseman in this club’s history. For a short time, Cuccinello was an amazing player.

Plus….

remember-tony-cuccinello-co3l3hRemember when Cuccinello refused to sign a Cincinnati contract for the 1932 season? Well, the Reds traded him to Brooklyn. Coming back to the Reds in that deal: Hall of Fame catcher Ernie Lombardi, who would win an MVP and play in 7 All-Star Games during a brilliant decade in the Queen City.

So Cuccinello helped the Reds even in his departure. For his part, Cooch would go on to play in a couple of All-Star Games himself, and played a solid 15 years for Brooklyn, Boston, the Giants, and the White Sox. He’s sort of forgotten in Cincinnati.

But Redleg Nation remembers.

johnny-temple6. Johnny Temple. 1952-1964. An enormously popular player during his nine seasons in Cincinnati, Temple was a three-time All-Star who hit .291/.372/.361, the second-highest batting average and third-best on-base percentage ever for a Cincinnati 2B. His wOBA (.338) is the fifth-best in Reds history, and his 15.2 bWAR is sixth.

Temple was one of seven Reds voted into the starting lineup for the 1957 All-Star Game by ballot-stuffing Reds fans in that memorable episode of baseball history. Two seasons later, in his final season in a Cincinnati uniform, Temple put together perhaps his best performance: .311/.380/.430 with 35 doubles.

miller-huggins7. Miller Huggins. 1904-1909. A Hall of Fame manager known for his work at the helm of the “Murderer’s Row” Yankees in the Twenties, Huggins began his career in baseball as the diminutive second baseman for the Reds in the Dead Ball era.

Listed at 5’4″ and 140 pounds, Huggins was reported to be even smaller:

“He [Huggins] was grievously handicapped by his lack of size,” wrote John Sheridan in the Sporting News. While databases list Huggins at 5’ 6” and 140 pounds, he was actually much smaller, around 5’ 1”-5’2” and 125 pounds.8 When John McGraw had a chance to acquire Huggins for his Baltimore Orioles in 1901, he declined to do so. “That shrimp?” he said to himself. “He’s too little to be of any use as a big leaguer.”

Perhaps to compensate for his size, Huggins had a fierce and relentless determination to succeed and use his head to win. “Because he was so small and slight, he must overcome by clear thinking,” wrote Frank Graham, “obstacles that other players could surmount by force.”

It mattered little to the determined Huggins, a Cincinnati native who debuted with the Reds as a 26 year-old in 1904 and played six very effective seasons for the club. During that span, Huggins hit .260/.362/.310 — remember, this was the Dead Ball era — with a 104 OPS+ and 107 wRC+. Huggins ranks in the top five in Reds history (among second basemen) in bWAR (16.4), walks, stolen bases, on-base percentage, OPS+, and wRC+.

hughie-critz8. Hughie Critz. 1924-1930. I bet you’ve never heard of Hughie Critz. He’s not exactly a well-known name in Cincinnati.

Critz made his major league debut with the Reds as a 23 year-old in 1924 by picking up a couple of hits against future Hall of Famer Grover Cleveland Alexander. He went on to post a 3 WAR season in that rookie campaign, hitting .322/.352/.448. Extremely well-respected at the time, Critz finished in the top four in MVP voting twice in his career.

In 1926, the 25 year-old Critz lost the MVP balloting to St. Louis catcher Bob O’Farrell, after Critz hit .270/.316/.371, played stellar defense, and posted 3.7 WAR as the Reds finished second in the National League. Two years later, Critz finished fourth in MVP voting (St. Louis’ Sunny Jim Bottomley won the award) when he hit .296/.335/.387.

I was prepared to state that Critz deserved admission to the Reds Hall of Fame based on a very productive seven-year career with the ol’ Redlegs. Shows how much I know. Critz was inducted in 1962. Who knew?

ron-oester29. Ron Oester. 1978-1990. A native of the Queen City, Oester played his entire 13-year career with the hometown Reds.

Oester was inducted into the Reds Hall of Fame in 2014, and I’m going to depend upon their description of his career for this piece:

Selected by the Reds in the ninth round of the 1974 amateur draft, Oester made his Major League debut in 1978 and began making regular appearances in the Reds lineup in 1980 when he appeared in 100 games and finished fourth in voting for the National League Rookie of the Year Award. In 1981, Oester enjoyed the first of six consecutive seasons as the Reds starting second baseman, a streak that was interrupted by a major knee injury he suffered in July of 1987. He won Major League Baseball’s Hutch Award in 1988 after his successful return to the Reds everyday lineup. In his final season in 1990, Oester was a key player off the bench during the Reds World Championship season and scored the winning run in the Reds pennant-clinching game over the Pirates in Game 6 of the 1990 NLCS. After his playing career, Oester spent six seasons with the Reds as a Major League coach. He remains a Cincinnati resident.

ron-oesterOester is third all-time among Reds second basemen in games played, fourth in doubles (190), fifth in HR (42) and RBI (344), and seventh in walks (369). The most enduring memory I have of Oester, however, is the fact that he was on a “Reds Leaders” Topps baseball card back when I was a kid, based upon the fact that he led the miserable 1983 Reds with a .264 batting average.

BRET BOONE10. Bret Boone. 1994-1998. I dunno, take your pick here. I’m going with Boone, who was an exciting defensive second baseman, and ranks in the Reds 2B top five in home runs (70, third on the list), RBI (346, fourth), and SLG (.412, fifth). Boone made an All-Star team and won a Gold Glove in his final season in Cincinnati (1998) before going on to greater fame in Seattle.

Honorable Mention:
Mariano Duncan. 1989-1995. A valuable member of the 1990 World Series champs, Duncan played with the Reds in two different stints, and he was probably better than you remembered. Ranks in the top six among Reds 2Bs in BA (.279, sixth), SLG (.436, third), OPS+ (104, fourth), and wRC+ (105, sixth).
Sam Bohne. 1921-1926. Posted 7.9 bWAR in a six year Reds career. Ranks among the top five Reds 2Bs in Def, and his 45 triples is tied for third in franchise history.
Pokey Reese. 1997-2001. I dunno, he was good at defense.
Tommy Helms. 1964-1971. Rookie of the Year in 1966. Made two All-Star teams and won two Gold Gloves. Was the Reds’ first base coach when Pete Rose cried on his shoulder after 4,192.
D’Angelo Jimenez. 2003-2005. He was actually okay during his three years in Cincinnati, despite what you think you remember. His OBP (.359) was fifth among all Reds 2Bs, his SLG (391) was sixth (among 2Bs with 1000+ plate appearances), his wOBA (.335) was seventh, and his wRC+ (98) was eighth.
Pete Rose. He’ll show up on this list at a different position, as you might imagine, but his 1968 1965 season was one of the top ten single seasons ever for a Reds second baseman.

53 thoughts on “Redleg Top Ten: The Best Second Basemen in Reds History

  1. “Wayne Krivsky’s hopes for a roster full of middle infielders remain alive.”

    History apparently repeats itself….”The past returns!” — Donatello

  2. I’ve never heard of a few of those guys … And I call myself a Reds fan !!!!

    Side note: Rose didn’t play second in 1968. Well, maybe a few games. But he had a heck of a year. Second in MVP voting …

  3. I am so glad Bret Boone made this list. He was my favorite Red for a while, especially after he visited me in the hospital. I suffered a spinal cord injury when I was a sophomore in high school when I broke my neck in a diving accident. I ended up in a hospital for eight days and a rehab hospital for two months. The high school baseball coach at my high school, who was also the strength and conditioning coach of the Reds, somehow found out that Bret Boone was my favorite Red. My coach must have said something to Bret because Bret showed up at the hospital a few days after my injury to visit. He stayed for about an hour and autographed a few pictures for myself, my family, and some friends. That visit meant a lot to a kid who was playing third base the week before and on that date found himself unable to move below the neck. Bret also followed up with me the following winter when he called me at my home to talk to me. He also got me free tickets to Red games whenever I asked over the next few years (too bad there were no playoff games in late 1990s).

    It has been quite a long time since Bret made that visit to a hospital a little over 20 years ago. I don’t know if he remembers the visit, but I surely do. It meant quite a bit. I would love to talk to him again and let him know how much it meant.

    I wanted to share the story because sometimes people never know what some of the players behind scenes do to encourage and inspire those in the community.

    • Thank you for sharing that story! I don’t care what any athlete does in their sports career, it is about what kind of person they are! I always liked Bret and Aaron because of the 3 generations! The stench of PED’s over Bret’s career is very telling so I am glad you shared your story to show the human side! I have a pecking order in my heart it has a lot less to do with how well they played the game, although it slanted things for sure! Joe Morgan WAS arguably one of the very best to play the position. I have been aggravated with BP for blocking trades but he has earned the right. I am a huge Ron Oester fan, he had a lot of Pete Rose in him Oester did so much more with so little God given talent. I was so thrilled when he was inducted in to the Reds HOF! Thank You to Chad Dotson also for writing the article that has brought back so many wonderful memories and thank you again James for sharing that story! I know athletes do things to give back to the fans a lot of times that goes untold, that didn’t happen in this case!

  4. Who will be the next great Reds 2B in the post-BP era?
    Dilson Herrera?
    Jose Peraza?
    Eugenio Suarez?
    Shed Long?
    None of the above?

    • Depends on if any of those guys can play 2B with their bare hands, that will shoot them way up the rankings!

    • I get the tongue in cheek on RBI…. But it’s almost impossible he didn’t with Griffey and Rose ahead of him on base and Griffey’s speed. 1976 proves as much.

      • Yes, a bit surprising. Rose had an OBP of .406 in 1975 with 210 hits, 47 2B, and 89 BB. Griffey had an OBP of .391 in 1975. I guess Joe was like Joey, just couldn’t hit a baseball with men on base.

    • Tongue firmly in cheek made your point better than if you had written a feature story!!!

  5. Ron Oester – We had the nickname “Ding Dong” for him, because he always seemed to goof up. And then in 1984 he made an amazing play to keep Mario Soto’s near no-hitter intact. And then he went and won a World Series in 1990. And then he almost managed the Reds.

    He may not have been the best 2B, but he made a lot of memories.

  6. Ron Oester and Johnny Temple both played the game with passion and were sparkplugs for their teams. I still feel, some twenty years later, that Oester should have been the manager of the Reds.

  7. When it came to Phillips I was waiting for you to say, “but it’s time to move on!”, and to my surprise, you didn’t actually come right out and say those actual words. I guess it’s just implied and widely accepted that it don’t need to be said (EVERY time anyway). BUT, even though you didn’t come right out and say those words, that was definitely the somber-ish tone. Like you were talking about and remembering a friend who had passed away.

    • Didn’t mean to take a somber tone. I really wanted to celebrate a great Reds career without dealing with the ugly way that I fear it’s going to end.

  8. Tell me if I’m wrong but wasn’t Boone connected to steroids, at least in hints that he was using? I’m pretty sure that his surge in power came after he came to Reds. Memory may not be accurate, if so I apologize, I do not want to smear someones rep.

      • I believe when he was with Seattle. Glad to have heard the positive story about him above because my view of him has been tainted by what to me was obvious PED use based on the transformation of his body over an offseason. Went from 19 HR in 2000 to 37 HR in 2001 and led the league in RBI in 2001 with 141.

        • I am like you his small stature and then he has been linked to PED’s and I think a lot of people would be like I am a little so so on Mr. Boone! I truly am thankful to see a side of him that helps show he is one of the Good Guys!

  9. Kinda understand your by the numbers ranking for some of the turn of the century and early 20th century guys, but Tommy Helms should definitely be in the top ten. Certainly better than Oester (no offense Ron).

    • Agree on Helms. That’s was the primary thing I was going to comment about if nobody else did.

      Johnny Temple was a childhood hero and inspiration. I wanted to be a 2B until it was explained to me that guys with good hands but short legs and prominent posteriors were best suited for behind the plate 😉

      • Helms has a good argument, and I really wanted to include him. His offensive numbers were really not very good.

        There’s also a good argument for moving Temple up the rankings. He’s the one guy I fear I might have underrated, in retrospect.

        • Interesting that as a kid I was more drawn to Temple in the field than at the plate; yet with just a quick look at BBRef, it appears he actually had his big WAR years as he was declining on defense.

          He was generally the lead off man; given his OPS+ and OBP. I’m sure he’d be controversial in that spot today.

      • Or fairly long legs and prominent posteriors in my case. My 32″ inseam is short-legged by baseball standards though.

  10. Rose had more than 2,500 plate appearances at five positions. Most at 1B.

  11. In my mind, Rose absolutely should be considered among top 10 at second base, as well as RF, LF and 3B. He played over 500 games for the Reds at each of those spots.

    • He’s only going to be at one position in these Top Ten rankings. We haven’t come to it yet.

      But yes, he’d realistically be in the top ten at multiple positions.

  12. And great article. Always good to take a trip down Reds baseball history. Kudos.

  13. One thing I’ve discovered: if I make a typo about a Pete Rose fact, I’ll get multiple comments and even a text message or two calling me out on my mistake. 🙂

  14. If Ron Oester wasn’t a ” scrappy guy”from Cincinnati would he be in the Reds HOF? If Rafael Landestoy had enjoyed the exact same Reds career as Oester would he be enshrined? Chris Sabo was often injured, but he was a hard charging gamer. Eric Davis was often injured because he was fragile. Rose took up a roster spot on a contending team in 1986, but was a selfless winner. Larkin vetoed a trade to the Mets and was a selfish prima Donna

    • Oester is no BP or Joe Morgan or for that matter probably Tommy Helms ..but he’s not Rafael Landestoy either. He also want prohibiting Dilson Herrera from coming up like someone else is…….Are you seriously comparing Oester and Landestoy? That’s ridiculous. Sabo was a ROY in 1988 and an All Star and was a key player on the last Reds World Series championship. He hit 2 home runs in game 3 of the World Series. No one claims he is Mike Schmidt. Maybe he shoulda juices in the early 1990’s like his contemporaries….. Everyone loves Eric Davis and Barry Larkin….stop trying to pretend we don’t…..and yes …..Pete Rose hit more ground outs to second base at age 45 than….well….no one else played at age 45 ….but he was actually reasonable at age 44 in 1985 and I think Esasky was dizzy anyway. Its not like joey Votto was sitting at AAA. What’s your point???

      • I wouldn’t get too hot under the collar, Old-School. Reading Chuck’s post in its entirety, I’m taking away the point that Oester’s exalted status would not have been achieved were he not the archetypal Cincinnati ballplayer. More of a style over substance jab. During their time, Larkin and Davis (without question the two best players on their teams) dealt with slights that were really unfair. But, I think it should be noted that good players in other cities get the same treatment.

        • Lots of mischaracterizations and innuendo to weave a narrative that isn’t true. Sabo was a very good 3b on a world championship team. He had a popularity that was earned on the field and a unique personality that made him a national figure…..albeit for a very short time. Oester blew out his knee at 2b….Scrappy is a little dismissive for someone viewed by Chad as the 9 th best 2b in reds history. Larkin played as hard as anyone and ” hustled” out that triple in game 3 of 1990 Series. Eric Davis is beloved and lacerated a kidney on the field. No one calls him fragile. So stop the divisive nonsense.

        • Do you actually believe that if Landestoy’s career was an exact replicate of Oester’s he would be enshrined as one of the all time greats of baseballs oldest franchise? I find that highly improbable.

          Sabo and Davis were both often injured. Davis was often criticized, Sabo was not. That’s just a fact.

          Larkin and Rose are both all time greats from Cincinnati.

          One played his entire career with the Reds. One left via free agency.

          One is well educated and represents the area in an extremely positive way.
          One is poorly educated and is a constant source of embarrassment.

          One is a convicted felon who is banned from the game. One left the final game of the 2000 season early to fly home to Orlando

          Guess which one is beloved by the masses. Guess which one has the street named after him.

  15. Comparing and contrasting Rafael Landestoy’s hypothetical career with Ron Oester’s actual career is your hypothetical farce….I’m not playing in your fantasy world. Perhaps you could be less passive aggressive and just directly state your views about how you think Reds fans apparently judge Ron Oester’s actual career vis-à-vis a caricature of some hypothetical Reds player that apparently Reds fans don’t view favorably.

    Reds fans love Eric Davis and they love Chris Sabo. Both. Not either/or. Chris did nothing to Eric and Eric did nothing to Sabo. I think they might have been teammates.

    Reds fans love Barry Larkin. Period.
    Pete Rose is a complex tragic figure. Great player, not so perfect guy. But you are the only one who artificially manufactures a Pete or Barry choice?
    I choose Larkin, the player and person….and Pete the player….pretty simple.
    I think we all pretty much do.

    • I think that you may be missing Chuck’s point, and I’m not so sure that I wouldn’t take Larkin over Rose as an all-around player.

  16. Huggins got a law degree, so he should be bumped up a few spots. Or booted from the list, depending on your perspective.

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