Top 25 Reds’ Position Players of All-Time: End of Year Countdown (Part 5 – 5-1)

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 #5, continuing from the previous list (10-6) from yesterday:

5 – Johnny Bench (1967-1983)

There is no doubt that Johnny Bench is among the greatest to ever play the game and helped to redefine his catching position.  Providing both stellar defense AND offense, he achieved greatness in his career from Rookie of the Year, two-time NL MVP, 14-time All-Star, and 10-time Gold Glove winner.  While playing in 2,158 games (4th most) as a Red, he recorded 1,091 runs (4th), 2,048 hits (5th), 381 doubles (5th), 389 HR (1st), 1,376 RBI (1st), and 891 BB (4th).

4 – Barry Larkin (1986-2004)

There is little doubt of the talent of the homegrown product of Barry Larkin and his contributions to the position of shortstop in baseball.  He made the difficult look routine and provided both superior offense and defense in his skill set.  He was a 12-time All-Star, 3-time Gold Glove winner (thanks, Ozzie Smith), and NL MVP along with membership on the 1990 Championship team.  In 2,180 games in Cincinnati (3rd most), he amassed 1,329 runs (3rd), 2,340 hits (2nd), 441 doubles (2nd), 76 triples (11th), 198 HR (9th), 960 RBI (6th), and 379 SB (3rd).

3 – Frank Robinson (1956-1965)

One of the game’s all-time great players, Robinson was traded away from Cincinnati far before his time should have ended.  The eight-time All-Star (as a Red) also won the Rookie of the Year, NL MVP, and a Gold Glove award in his time as a Red.  The rightfielder in his 1,502 games (8th) in Cincinnati accumulated 1,043 runs (5th), 1,673 hits (9th), 318 doubles (7th), 324 HR (2nd), 1,009 RBI (5th), 698 BB (8th) along with a .303 BA, .389 OBP (4th), .554 SLG (1st), and .943 OPS (2nd).

2 – Joe Morgan (1972-1979)

The premier years of “Little Joe” came as a Cincinnati Red and putting up such prolific numbers in short order made him one of the all-time greats.  He shone in his transition to Cincinnati to become a star, as an eight-time All-Star, five-time Gold Glove winner, and two-time NL MVP.  In his 1,154 games in a Reds uniform, he accumulated 816 runs (10th), 1,155 hits (20th), 152 HR (13th), 612 RBI (19th), and 406 SB (2nd) along with a .415 OBP (1st) and .885 OPS (4th).  His production rate of 1.764 hits plus walks per game is the highest rate of any Red in history.

1 – Pete Rose (1963-1978, 1984-1986)

There is almost little doubt that hometown kid was also the team’s greatest contributor.  He appeared in a mammoth 2,722 games while playing at a variety of positions.  In that time, he achieved a Rookie of the Year, an MVP, two Gold Gloves, 13 All-Star appearances (as a Red), and two Championship teams (along with his other Big Red Machine teammates).  He amassed a multitude of numbers (understandably with longevity) in amassing 1,741 runs (1st), 3,358 hits (1st), 601 doubles (1st), 115 triples (2nd), 152 HR (t-13th), 1,036 RBI (4th), and 1,210 BB (1st) to go along with a .307 BA (10th) and .379 OBP (7th).

Have a safe New Year’s holiday and a fantastic 2013 ahead!

Continue the conversation with me on Twitter via @jdrentz.

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