This week’s respondents are Nick Carrington, Chad Dotson, Chris Garber, Bill Lack and Steve Mancuso.
Our Daily Reds Obsession: Who is your favorite Reds player since 2000?
Nick: Don’t make me choose! I loved Ken Griffey Jr. That swing is still one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. However, the constant injuries meant he spent more time rehabbing than patrolling center. I’ll go with Jay Bruce. My Reds fandom went into hyperdrive about the time he shot through the minors, and he was key to the long awaited playoff runs of 2010-2013.
I have two memories that stand out from Bruce’s Reds career. One was the Clinchmas home run of course. The other I saw in person.
I attended a game against the Diamondbacks early in Bruce’s career. In the 10th inning of a 1-1 game, the D-backs had Justin Upton on third and one out. The batter hit a fly ball into right center that Bruce tracked down moving to his right. He was facing the bleacher seats, and I thought the game was lost. He quickly pivoted and threw a laser to home plate, gunning down Upton and preserving the lead. The Reds would win in the bottom of the inning.
Chad: Is there any acceptable answer other than Adam Dunn? Okay, I’ll accept Joey Votto as an answer, too, but we’re talking “favorite” Reds player, not “best” Reds player. And for me, that’s Dunner.
The players I gravitate towards as my “favorite” often tend to be guys who, in my mind, receive more than their share of undeserved criticism from Reds fans. (I’m looking at you, Edwin Encarnacion.) Dunn struck out a lot and his defense wasn’t great, so the mouthbreathers who call into talk radio and get mad online blamed Dunn (and Ken Griffey Jr.) for the fact that the Reds were lousy in the early 2000s. I chose to celebrate Dunn for the things he did well, and there were many of them. He’s fourth on the Reds all-time franchise list in home runs (270), and is in the franchise’s top 20 in runs scored and RBI. He ranks third among all Reds hitters in SLG and OPS, and 7th in on-base percentage.
Plus, he was just fun to watch at all times. I look forward to witnessing his induction into the Reds Hall of Fame someday.
Chris: There have been some incredibly entertaining Reds players in the last couple decades. Joey Votto’s mastery is a nightly pleasure. Billy Hamilton is someone you’ll never see again. Same with Chapman. Aaron Harang was the hero Reds fans deserved after years of mound dreck. Bronson Arroyo is a witch.
But I still enjoy Adam Dunn the most. His humor, his self-awareness, the joy he seemed to take in being a part of the Cincinnati Reds (as distinct from playing baseball, which I’m not sure he actually liked all that much.) The guy’s nickname was The Big Donkey, and he seemed to enjoy it. And of course, his power was a thing that made you gasp. Actually, it just made me laugh in disbelief.
Bill: I’d have to say, Adam Dunn. He came through the organization with such offensive hype that it wasn’t a matter of “if” he was going to come up, but when. He’d hit 32 homers in AA and AAA before getting called up in late July 2001, then hitting 19 more for the Reds. Five years in a row of hitting 40+ homers for the Reds (and walking over 100 times in those same years) and never having an OBP below .350 for the Reds. But it always seemed that the media concentrated more on his shortcomings (defense and striking out) than his strengths. I also really enjoyed his sense of humor (the banana phone story and the time he left Jr’s car in George Steinbrenner’s spot in Tampa) and reporters always said that he would never duck them and always shouldered the blame when deserved. Just seemed like a good, honorable man doing the best he could. I like that.
Steve: Players I’ve enjoyed enough to go to games just to watch them: Paul Janish, Drew Stubbs, Shin-Soo Choo, Mike Leake. I’d put Jay Bruce and Homer Bailey on a higher tier. Those two are players I’ve watched a long time and really appreciate their games. I loved watching Jay Bruce play RF in Great American Ball Park. Homer Bailey thrilled me when his velocity increased as the game went on. I hope he gets back to that this year. But my answer to this question is Joey Votto. Not just because he is the best player the Reds have had since 2000, but because of his mastery of his craft. It’s a wonder to watch his thoughtful approach to hitting. I have to say my admiration of him has deepened in the last few years.