While the #16 produced quite a list of potential candidates, there was ultimately one man who stood out above the rest. Reggie Sanders got his career started with the Redlegs and forged a legacy that allows him to always be remembered in the Queen City.
His most infamous moment as a Red may not be a moment he wants to remember, but when Pedro Martinez lost his perfect game by plunking Sanders at the beginning of the 1994 campaign, #16 took exception and charged the hill; a laughable notion.
As a member of the division winning 1995 club, Sanders had an All-Star appearance and finished sixth in MVP balloting behind his teammate Barry Larkin, who ultimately won the award. In what was clearly Sanders most efficient season, he had a career-high 99 RBI and batted over .300 for the only time in a full season in his career.
Injuries riddled his next two seasons, and the proverbial line in the sand was drawn for the man that so admirably manned the outfield, (right field specifically) for eight seasons. After having been in one place for the majority his career, Sanders became a bona fide journeyman. Granted, his numbers warranted an extended deal, he just always had issues of staying healthy and putting the bat on the ball.
His final nine seasons included being a member of the San Diego Padres, Atlanta Braves, San Francisco Giants, Arizona Diamondbacks, Pittsburgh Pirates, St. Louis Cardinals and Kansas City Royals. He went on to reach the pinnacle of the sport in 2001 as a member of the Diamondbacks, winning his first and only World Series ring.
Over the span of Sanders’ 17-year career, he hit 305 homeruns and became a member of an elite group of players to drive 300 balls out of the park, and steal 300 bases. His unique combination of power and speed made him a terror for opposing batteries.
The list of opposing candidates was imposing with legitimate consideration given to multiple parties. The closest up, was Leo Cardenas. He was a former five-time All-Star while a member of the Reds, and was one of the slickest fielding shortstops of his generation. While he is also a member of the Reds Hall of Fame, he was a member of a team that lacked a winning gene. It was virtually a toss-up between the two, but ultimately, Sanders contributed more, at least statistically to the argument.
Other favorites featured Johnny Temple, Ron Oester and even super prospect that never came to be, Brandon Larson. Edgar Renteria was the most recent Redleg to wear the number, and prior to him, not a notable name has held the honor since 2006 when both Todd Hollandsworth and Cody Ross got their hands on it.
At the end of the day, Reggie Sanders was a cornerstone on a division winning team in 1995 and slugged mammoth homeruns while playing for the team. Cardenas already has the Reds Hall of Fame honor, so the least Sanders can have, is our consolation prize.