This is my favorite time of year. Spring training is well underway. The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament begins Thursday. In the first week of April, the NCAA Tournament will culminate and the Reds will host Opening Day.
In his Friday column, Rolen is Rollin’ Along As Planned, Hal McCoy recounts his recent conversation with Joey Votto and Johnny Bench about whether Bench is the greatest Reds player of all-time. So, for your enjoyment, I have combined brackets with baseball. The following “tournament” pits thirty-two of the greatest baseball players in Reds history against each other in a single elimination contest. There are four regions: Sarasota, Plant City, Tampa, and Goodyear. Each Regional winner will earn Final Four berths.
The selection committee — yours truly — worked very hard to put the most deserving players in the tournament. Nonetheless, I have already received a significant amount of criticism. Joe Nuxhall, Jack Billingham, Leo Cardenas, Don Gullett, Jose Rijo, Tom Browning and Pedro Borbon didn’t make the field. The most notable player “on the bubble,” however, was — of course — Bubbles Hargraves.
Also, the committee only considered modern era players. Nothing against Harry Wright and Bid McPhee, but their “strength of schedule” was just too weak for consideration.
Joey Votto made it. His career .955 OPS is the highest in Reds history ahead of Frank Robinson, Adam Dunn, and Joe Morgan. He already has an MVP Award on his resume.
Brandon Phillips made it. He is only 28 homeruns behind Joe Morgan among Reds secondbasemen.
Both Griffeys made it. Also in are Wally Post, Dolph Luque, Dave Parker, Mario Soto, Sean Casey, Heine Groh, and Gus Bell. Adam Dunn was the last player in. His 270 homeruns and .370 OBP were just too much to ignore.
The four #1 seeds were Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, Frank Robinson, and Joe Morgan. Edd Roush, Tony Perez, Barry Larkin, and Dave Concepcion earned #2 seeds. Eight pitchers made it. Six members of the Big Red Machine are in the field.
Goodyear and Sarasota
Ted Kluszewski lost a very close second round matchup to Dave Concepcion. Concepcion, a great defensive shortstop, bested Big Klu’s Reds totals in both runs and RBI’s.
Concepcion was the only player in the Elite Eight that is not a member of Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame. Concepcion lost narrowly in the Regional Championship game to his double-play partner, Joe Morgan. Morgan won two NL MVP Awards.
Frank Robinson defeated Tom Seaver in the second round. Tom Seaver’s career with the Reds only lasted six seasons. Otherwise, he may have had a shot at Robinson.
Vada Pinson scored more runs, as a Red, than Tony Perez. Perez overcame the early deficit, however, to win out. His homerun and RBI totals, as a Red, were significantly higher than Pinson’s. Here are the rest of the Goodyear and Sarasota results:
Plant City and Tampa
Pete Rose won a first round blowout against The Big Cobra. Parker dogged it for most of the game. Rose, on the other hand, hustled to the very end.
In what could be considered an upset, Frank McCormick won over a far more athletic Eric Davis. The difference? Davis hit .271 and struck out 874 times during his Reds career. McCormick hit .301 and struck out just 149 times.
Eppa Rixey, defeated Ken Griffey, Jr. after Griffey injured his hamstring early in the first round matchup.
Barry Larkin won a close one against George Foster. Larkin hit for a higher average and stole 379 bases to Foster’s 46. Not to mention, Larkin was a very good defensive shortstop who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame this summer. Both players won MVP Awards. Here are the rest of the Plant City and Tampa results:
The four #1 seeds advanced to the Final Four. Johnny Bench and Pete Rose will challenge each other on one side of the bracket. Frank Robinson and Joe Morgan will do battle in the other contest. Who will advance to the final game and ultimately win the tournament? You decide. Tweet your choice using the hashtag #Redsbracket.
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Tags: #Redsbracket Barry Larkin Brackets Brandon Phillips Dave Concepcion Dave Parker Eric Davis Featured Frank Robinson Hal McCoy Joey Votto Johnny Bench Ken Griffey Ken Griffey Jr. Mario Soto Pete Rose Popular Tony Perez Tournament