Best Cincinnati Reds Ever: Dave Concepcion v. Cesar Geronimo

Apr 4, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Opening Day game balls in the dugout during a game with the Philadelphia Phillies and the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 4, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Opening Day game balls in the dugout during a game with the Philadelphia Phillies and the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports /
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First Round Matchup No. 5 Dave Concepcion v. No. 12 Cesar Geronimo

Concepcion:

A nine-time All-Star, slick-fielding shortstop, Dave Concepcion was among the best at his position during his time with the Cincinnati Reds. And that time spanned 19 years from 1970-88 (22 years old to 40). This included a primary role on the back-to-back World Series champion Big Red Machine teams in 1975 and 76.

Concepcion was a career .297 hitter in the postseason (34 games) including a .357 AVG in the four-game sweep of the Yankees in the ’76 World Series. He also had a .455 SLG which was nearly 100 points higher than his .357 mark for the regular season. In those two World Series winning seasons, he added two of his five career Gold Glove awards.

He had a batting average north of .300 three times in his career, topped double-digit home runs twice (14 in ’74 and 16 in ’79) and had two 80+ RBI seasons. He wasn’t recognized as a general offensive threat, but he wasn’t a liability either, earning two Silver Slugger awards. He sports a career .267 AVG, 101 HR, 950 RBI, 389 doubles and 321 steals. He stole more than 20 bases in a season seven different times and topped out at 41 in 1974.

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The middle infielder added three seasons in which he garnered MVP votes, was a member of “The Great Eight” lineup, and was essentially rivaled by only Robin Yount at the position, as Rob Neyer eluded to in a 2011 SB Nation article.

After playing the entirety of his career in Cincinnati, the Reds retired Concepcion’s No. 13 jersey and he was a 2000 inductee into the Reds Hall of Fame.

Geronimo:

A former contributor to us here at Blog Red Machine actually highlighted Cesar Geronimo in a remembrance post back in 2011. He mentions things I won’t delve into specifically here, but it is well worth the read, so please do so. With that said, Geronimo was a forgotten man on the Big Red Machine teams of the 1970s. But the Cincinnati Reds certainly haven’t forgotten him. He was inducted into the Reds Hall of Fame in 2008 and was of course a two-time World Series champion in back-to-back fashion.

Geronimo was more than just an extra on the cast, more than just a gap-filler. Geronimo was a four-time Gold Glove Award winner and center field anchor across his nine-year stint with the Reds. In 1976, he received MVP votes, hit above .300 and stole a career-high 22 bases. He added a 10 HR-10 SB season the following year and his third of three career 50+ RBI seasons.

Just a .167 hitter in 36 career postseason games, Geronimo can be remembered for his two home runs (and .280 AVG) and three intentional walks in the 1975 World Series. He added a slash line of .308/.400/.462 in the 1976 World Series.

But again, it all comes back to his championship-caliber defense. In a blurb on the Reds Hall of Fame website, this was written in regard to Geronimo:

"“…it was his defense that made him truly special. Reds Hall of Fame manager Sparky Anderson described his defense as “ungodly” and his contemporaries compared his arm to that of Roberto Clemente when Clemente was at his peak. Kluszewski suggested that Geronimo was “like a center in basketball – he intimidates you. Not only is his arm incredibly strong, it’s also accurate.”"

Later in the post, this commentary was added:

"“Geronimo’s arm was matched only by his uncommon grace in patrolling centerfield. His long, smooth strides allowed him to close on fly balls that most outfielders simply could not get to in time. A track coach once measured Geronimo’s stride at nine feet, nearly two more feet than that of the average runner. He excelled at making the spectacular look routine, at turning diving catches into easy outs.”"

Former Reds greats Johnny Bench, Dave Concepcion and Joe Morgan are the only Reds players to win more than Geronimo’s four Gold Glove’s.

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