If you haven’t seen it yet, you’ll want to read this interesting piece by Jerry Crasnick over at ESPN. It’s about Billy Hamilton, if you haven’t figured that out yet: Hamilton is tied for 11th in the majors with 40 runs even though he ranks 127th among 171 qualifying hitters with a .305 on-base percentage. […]

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 […]

Let’s recap tonight’s titanic struggle…. FINAL — 10 innings New York (NL) 2 Cincinnati 3 W: M. Parra (2-3) L: G. Burke (0-3) BOX SCORE POSITIVES –The Reds have clinched a spot in the post-season. Unfortunately, the Cardinals won, so the Redlegs remain two games back in the NL Central race. Still, the Reds will […]

December 5, 1926: Cincinnati Reds second baseman Hughie Critz finishes second in voting for the 1926 National League Most Valuable Player Award. During a year where Babe Ruth batted .372 with 47 homers, and 146 rbi with a 1.253 OPS (225 OPS+) in the American League and does not get one single MVP vote, Critz […]

When Joey Votto won the 2010 National League MVP Award, it marked the 12th time that a Red had won the Award since it’s inception in 1911 (no award was given from 1915-23 or in 1930).

Reds winners are listed below, and in deference to Joey Votto’s quote about batting average (“we all know that batting average is kind of an overrated statistic”), I’ll use more modern metrics for their performance.

1938, Ernie Lombardi, catcher, .342 batting average/.391 OBP/.524 SLP
1939, Bucky Walters, pitcher, 27-11, 2.29 ERA, 137 K’s
1940, Frank McCormick, 1st base, .309/.367/.482
1961, Frank Robinson, outfield, .323/.404/.611
1970, Johnny Bench, catcher, .293/.345/.587
1972, Johnny Bench, catcher, .270/.379/.541
1973, Pete Rose, outfield, .338/.401/.437
1975, Joe Morgan, 2nd base, .327/.466/.508
1976, Joe Morgan, 2nd base, .320/.444/.576
1977, George Foster, outfield, .320/.382/.631
1995, Barry Larkin, shortstop, .319/.394/.492
2010, Joey Votto, 1st base, .324/.424/.600

You most likely know about most, if not all, of these guys. Lombardi, Walters, and McCormick were stars that played with the 1939-40 Reds teams. Robinson was the best player of the late 50’s/early 60’s and played on the 1961 World Series team. Bench, Rose, Morgan, and Foster were stars from the Big Red Machine World Series teams. Larkin was a star from the 1990 World Series team, and Votto broke many Reds hitting records from this past season.

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The National League Gold Glove winners are to be announced today. Hopefully, there won’t be any disastrous shocks like yesterday when Derek Jeter was awarded his fifth Gold Glove. The folks at baseball-reference.com were so mortified they even had a disclaimer next to the announcement (since taken down). The disclaimer was something like “We can’t […]

October 25, 1884: The owner of the Cincinnati Red Stockings, Aaron Stern, sells the team to minority stockholder, George Herancourt, as reported by “Redleg Journal” authors Greg Rhodes and John Snyder. Herancourt later sells the Red Stockings to another brewery owner John Hauck. During Hauck’s time, some different nicknames for the Red Stockings are tried, such as Porkopolitans and Pioneers, but “Reds” or “Red Stockings” seemed to fit and be the most lasting.

October 25, 1886: Former Reds owner Aaron Stern decides to buy the Cincinnati Red Stockings from John Hauck. According to “Redleg Journal”:

One of Stern’s first decisions was to oust O.P. Caylor as manager. Caylor was replaced by 36-year-old Gus Schmelz, who sported a fiery red beard. Schmelz never played in the majors, but managed six league clubs between 1884 and 1897. he remained with the Reds through the 1889 season.

Caylor was a Cincinnati sportswriter whose opinions had offended many in the Cincinnati management organization, but also rallied many of the fans. Frankly, it was a case of the newspaper writer taking over the team. However, Caylor was well-respected and was instrumental in the founding of the American Association. Schmelz had two prior years of major league management experience with the Columbus Buckeyes (American Association) and the St. Louis Maroons (National League) before joining the Red Stockings. Schmelz had a very successful three year stay with the Red Stockings going 237-171 with one second place finish. Caylor had managed the Red Stockings for two years, going 128-122, also with one second place finish.

In his book, “Evaluating Baseball’s Managers”, Chris Jaffe writes that Schmelz was one of baseball’s greatest innovators. He started practicing his teams, including a preseason spring training camp. He began using bunting as a primary weapon to the point that bunting was often called “the Schmelz system,” and dictated in game strategy rather than just letting the players play. He invoked the role of managers in games.

Aaron Stern would eventually withdraw the Red Stockings from the American Association after the 1889 season, move the Reds to the National League for 1890, and then sell the Reds organization to a Players League group when the 1890 season finished. That group, led by Albert Johnson, decided to re-sell the Reds to John T. Brush, who had secured the Cincinnati franchise rights to the National League. Meanwhile, another Cincinnati team, sometimes called the Cincinnati Porkers and sometimes Cincinnati’s Kelly’s Killers (named for player-manager King Kelly), played in the American Association during 1891 before moving the AA franchise to Milwaukee. And, yes, it was as confusing that offseason as it read there…we didn’t even get into the player movements during that offseason.

October 25, 1927: Cincinnati Reds president August “Garry” Herrmann resigns his position, citing poor health and deafness as the reasons. Herrmann had been the primary Reds decision maker since he led a coalition that purchased the team back in 1903.

Herrmann was chairman of Cincinnati’s municipal waterworks board when he was named president and chief of baseball operations for the Reds. During his tenure, Herrmann was very well respected amongst his peers. He was named Chairman of the National Commission, making the deciding votes on baseball matters on a three-man committee consisting of Herrmann and the two presidents of each Major League. He held this position until baseball’s first commissioner, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, was named in 1920. It was Herrmann’s decision to not sue over the loss of star outfielder Sam Crawford having signed contracts in both leagues, with Crawford jumping to the Detroit Tigers, that led to the harmonious agreement between the American and National leagues. Herrmann also helped usher in the World Series as we know it today and even experimented with night baseball under the lights (he used this with local teams not the Reds).

Herrmann had his own distinctive style. From the book “The Ball Clubs” by Donald Dewey and Nicholas Acocella:

“Even for a business renowned for it’s outsized personages, the new Cincinnati boss seemed like a character out of Dick Tracy. Called a ‘walking delicatessen’ by some, he seldom ventured anywhere without an ample supply of sausages that he would munch on whenever the opportunity presented itself. On more than one occasion, he bolted from a public function because of some mixup that had left sausages unavailable. When he wasn’t proclaiming his addiction to meat, Herrmann was boasting of his beer-drinking prowess. In case anybody missed his bluster in bars, taverns, and hotel dining rooms, he could be recognized as the portly gentleman with a taste in checked suits and big diamond rings. Even his name Garry came to him expansively–it stood for Garibaldi, and had been given to him arbitrarily by an employer who wanted to think of all his charges as great European historical figures.”

Herrmann was a big spender and loved to host the party. According to Dewey and Acocella, after Herrmann rejected a couple of trade ideas, former Reds manager Joe Tinker protested that Herrmann was “more interested in saving money for his extravagant parties than in buying players who would make the team a winner.” According to various sources, Herrmann died nearly penniless in 1931. Wikipedia says his estate was worth ten dollars when he died. According to “Redleg Journal” by Greg Rhodes and John Snyder, Herrmann’s estate was worth $120.

Herrmann also oversaw the Reds’ first World Championship, the 1919 World Series. He also was a patient owner and waited through seasonal contract holdouts of such Reds stars Edd Roush, Heinie Groh, and Hughie Critz, among others.

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June 27, 1926: The Cincinnati Reds break loose for 18 hits, including five triples, and turn a triple play, while starting pitcher Pete Donohue fires a six-hitter as the Reds blitz the Pittsburgh Pirates, 16-0. The win gives the first place Reds a 2 1/2 game lead over the eventual champion St. Louis Cardinals.

The 1926 Reds may be the best Reds team that you’ve never heard of. They finished the season two games out of first place, but spent 85 days in first place. The last day they were first came on September 16 with only 10 days left in the season. They were never more than five games back, and never went under .500 for the year. They beat the World Champion St. Louis Cardinals 14 out of 22 games, but somehow lost to the sub.-500 New York Giants in 15 of 22 games. They had the league’s best offense (OPS+ of 103), the second best pitching (ERA+ of 109 behind the Cubs’ 119) and placed third in defensive efficiency (.698). Check out this list of personal accomplishments:

Second baseman Hughie Critz finished second in MVP balloting
catcher Bubbles Hargrave won the batting title at .353
Outfielder Cuckoo Christensen finished second for the batting title at .350
First baseman Wally Pipp tied for fourth in runs batted in with 99
Outfielder Edd Roush was second in doubles with 37
Outfielder Curt Walker was second in triples with 22
Pitcher Pete Donohue tied for first in wins with 20
Pitcher Carl Mays was fifth in wins with 19
Pitchers Pete Donohue, Carl Mays, Red Lucas, and Eppa Rixey were all in the top ten in WHIP (walk and hits per nine innings pitched)
Pitcher Jakie May was third in strikeouts with 103
Carl Mays was first in complete games with 24
Pete Donohue was first in shutouts with 5
Hargrave an OPS+ of 151
Top four outfielders OPS+ ratings: Rube Bressler 147, Christensen 135, Roush 123, Walker 122
Wally Pipp had an OPS+ of 107, too
They had six pitchers with 100+ innings pitched. Their ERA+: Mays 118, May 115, Donohue 110, Rixey 109, Dolf Luque 108, Red Lucas 101

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