One of the most volatile players in Reds history has won the honor of being the best #7 to ever play as a member of baseball’s oldest organization. His career in red was short-lived over parts of three seasons, although he only played near the equivalent of a season and a half. Kevin Mitchell’s Reds career only consisted of 747 at-bats and 225 games during his tenure in the Queen City.
Over the course of his career, Mitchell found himself in the spotlight more than once. He was a member of the 1986 New York Mets team that won a World Championship shortly after the ball went through Buckner’s legs. He was the 1989 National League MVP as a member of the San Francisco Giants where he demolished 47 long balls and drove in 125 runs, leading the league in both categories, along with Slugging percentage, OPS and Total bases.
Mitchell joined the Reds in 1993 after playing in Seattle the year before, and exploded onto the scene. Having only batted above .300 just once before in his career, Mitchell went on to lace his way to a .341 batting average. The following season seemed destined to be Mitchell’s best yet. At the time of the strike, he had already hammered 30 homeruns and his OPS was at a staggering 1.110. Ultimately, he finished ninth in the MVP balloting on the year; had the season been allowed to continue, Mitchell may have his second MVP award and produced the best season of his career.
While his off-the-field issues more than likely would have occurred in any era, Mitchell has now found himself in financial hot water. He is one of California’s top delinquent taxpayers with his sum accumulating to over more than five million dollars.
Electing a #7 was probably the most difficult of any number up to this point due to the sheer volume of Reds who wore the jersey over the years. (There were 33 different players) To say that any one candidate stood out above the rest would be improper to say, as this was completely up to personal interpretation. Defensive gurus Paul Janish and Juan Castro made a compelling argument with extended Reds careers, as they were the two most recent to don unlucky #7. Mariano Duncan wore it when the “wire-to-wire” Reds won the 1990 World Series. Both Walker Cooper and Ernie Lombardi had tremendous seasons, just wearing different numbers, and in Cooper’s case, playing in different organizations.
At the end of the day, Kevin Mitchell may have burned out like a comet during his time in Cincinnati, but for a number that has had a lot of parody over the years, Mitchell has been the best to wear it. If he had been given the opportunity to finish his 1994 season, he may be admired in an even brighter light. Nonetheless, this number was subject to personal favorites, although, many should agree with Mitchell’s selection.