Whenever someone creates a “Best Of” list or a “Greatest” something or other in rank order, it always opens the topic for debate exactly what qualifies someone or something better than another. To end 2012, I thought it would be interesting to look at All-Time Reds in a rank order. There is no “right” answer to this, although I made a best attempt to make this a bit more “scientific” in equalizing ranks across a large disparity of games played. Intangibles are harder to award where discrete numbers weren’t produced, but no consideration was given for any player’s statistics beyond his time as a Reds player.
We pick up today at #15, continuing from the previous list (20-16) from yesterday:
15 – Gus Bell (1953-1961)
Gus Bell would prove to be the patriarch of a lineage of baseball players (son Buddy to follow along with grandsons David and Mike). His own playing career was quite successful in its own right while roaming centerfield in Cincinnati. In some 1,235 games played for the Reds, Bell scored 634 runs (19th), 1,343 hits (12th), 228 doubles (13th), 160 HR (12th), and 711 RBI (14th).
14 – Ernie Lombardi (1932-1942)
Lombardi was a durable catcher in his playing days, known for his slowness of foot but also a strong ability to call a good game behind the plate (having the distinction of catching both of Johnny Vander Meer‘s back-to-back no-hitters). His offensive production was pretty solid as well. In 1,203 games played in Cincinnati, Lombardi produced 1,238 hits (17th), 120 HR (20th), and .311 BA (6th). Lombardi claimed the NL MVP award in 1938 with a season that saw a .342 BA (tops in the league), 19 HR, and 95 RBI. Additionally, he appeared in six All-Star games as a Red from 1936-1942 (among eight appearances total).
13 – Dave Concepcion (1970-1988)
A beloved member of the Big Red Machine, Concepcion was a nine-time All-Star and five-time Gold Glove winner. His defensive range and abilities along with an amazing proclivity to use the bounce from the turf on long throws made Concepcion shine with the leather. He appeared in 2,488 games (2nd most of any Reds player), playing his entire career in Cincinnati. He recorded 2,326 hits (3rd), 993 runs (6th), 389 doubles (3rd), 950 RBI (7th), 736 BB (7th), and 321 SB (5th). An argument could be made for Davey being higher on this list if not for the rates of production of some names that follow.
12 – George Foster (1971-1981)
Foster would prove to be an invaluable offensive cog in the Big Red Machine. He was a five-time All-Star who paced the NL in HR twice (1977 and 1978) as well as RBI three times (1976, 77, and 78). In his peak season of 1977, Foster won the NL MVP award by pacing the league with 52 HR and 149 RBI but just falling short of a Triple Crown with a BA of .320 that finished a close 4th. In his 1,253 games for the Reds, Foster recorded 680 runs (15th), 1,276 hits (15th), 244 HR (6th), 861 RBI (9th), .514 SLG (5th) and .870 OPS (7th).
11 – Vada Pinson (1958-1968)
One of the great Reds outfielders who was often forgotten in the shadow of teammate Frank Robinson during his playing days, Pinson was a four-time All-Star in his own right. Known for his speed not only in the outfield but also on the basepaths, Pinson could terrorize opposing teams. In his 1,565 games in Cincinnati, he recorded 978 runs (7th), 1,881 hits (7th), 342 doubles (5th), 96 triples (5th – leading the league in hits, doubles, and triples multiple times), 186 HR (12th), 814 RBI (10th), and 221 SB (9th).
I return tomorrow with Part 4, counting down from #10 to #6 to conclude 12/31 with #5 to #1.
Continue the conversation with me on Twitter via @jdrentz.