The third greatest Red of all time is…Joe Morgan.
Morgan was one of the most vital members on one of the greatest dynasties in sports history. The second baseman of the Big Red Machine is the Reds all-time leader in steals and a former NL MVP. Standing just 5 feet and 7 inches tall, Morgan won back to back MVP awards in 1975 and 1976.
In perhaps the two most dominant years in Reds history, Morgan was the most dominant player in baseball. Such a fact, creates an arguement that Morgan could be known as the greatest Red of all-time. However, he is surpassed only by two of his teammates.
Joe Morgan played the game with the type of professionalism that was infectiousness that spread to all who played around him. Joe Morgan, Johnny Bench, and Pete Rose serve as maybe the greatest trio in Reds history and baseball history as well. Their desire to win each day out led to much of the success of the Big Red Machine of the mid-1970’s.
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Morgan played eight seasons as a Red and led the league in on base percentage four times and led in on-base plus slugging (OPS) twice. Morgan’s most dominant year was in 1976 where he hit 27 home runs and drove in 111 RBI’s and stole 60 bases while batting .320 and having an on base percentage of .444. Those all-around numbers are staggering and the type of five tool production that is rarely if ever seen in a baseball player.
In comparing Morgan’s season to Joey Votto’s MVP season of 2010, Votto hit a few more home runs but stole 50 less bases. Morgan’s 1975 and 1976 seasons were remarkable and possibly the most dominant two year stretch of any player in Major League Baseball history.
Morgan was also an all-star every season that he was in a Reds uniform, and was a gold glover five times. When the Houston Astros traded Morgan to the Reds in 1971 along with Jack Billingham and Cesar Geronimo, the Big Red Machine was born. In 1979, he was not resigned by the Reds and granted free agency, according to baseballreference.com.
Since retirement Morgan has spent several years announcing Sunday Night Baseball for ESPN, and he now serves as a special advisor to the Reds organization.
Being a gold glove second baseman, an MVP at the dish, and one of the leaders of the Big Red Machine cement Morgan as third on the Reds all time greatest list.