Best Cincinnati Reds Ever: Jose Rijo v. Greg Vaughn


First Round Matchup No. 3 Jose Rijo v. No. 14 Greg Vaughn


Jose Rijo was a mediocre his first four years in the league — but to his credit he was 19-22 years old. Then the Cincinnati Reds acquired him for his age 23 season and his career skyrocketed. In that first season Rijo pitched in 49 games — 19 starts — had a 2.39 ERA and struck out nearly a batter an inning. He maintained a sub-3.00 ERA through the 1993 season — his sixth with the Reds — once leading the league in strikeouts, once in WHIP and earned twice earned Cy Young and MVP votes.

In 1990 Rijo was the go-to pitcher against the Oakland Athletics in the World Series, earning two starts — winning both — while posting a 0.59 ERA, 14 strikeouts and just nine hits allowed in 15 1/3 innings. He won the World Series MVP that season in the Reds’ most recent title team.

In 1994 he made his first and only All-Star appearance with a 3.08 ERA and a league-best 26 starts in the strike-shortened season. He missed the following five years due to injury but returned for two final years in Cincinnati as a shell-of-himself reliever. Rico was awarded the Tony Conigliaro Award in 2002 for being the player who best “overcomes an obstacle and adversity through the attributes of spirit, determination, and courage that were trademarks of Conigliaro.”

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For his career Rijo won 97 games with the Reds and maintained a 2.83 ERA, 1.187 WHIP and a 7.6 K/9. At the time of his retirement Rijo ranked fifth in team history for strikeouts and fourth in ERA. He was inducted into the Reds Hall of Fame in 2005.


Greg Vaughn spent the the prime of his career with Milwaukee and then San Diego, including a 50 home run, 119 RBI season in 1998 with the Padres. But a trade to the Cincinnati Reds for the ’99 season did not damper Vaughn’s production.

Coming off of his best season ever, making his third All-Star team, winning the Silver Slugger Award and finishing fourth in the MVP voting, Vaughn nearly matched himself. In 1999 — his only season with Cincinnati — Vaughn belted 45 home runs with 118 RBIs and again finished fourth in the MVP race behind Chipper Jones, Jeff Bagwell and Matt Williams.

While his stay in Cincinnati didn’t even last a full 365 days, Vaughn’s presence was felt for a 96-67 Reds team that finished runner-up in the NL Central that season. There were rumblings that he wasn’t going to last on the roster for the entire season as the Reds were rumored to be considering shopping him at that season’s trade deadline, but he was kept and Vaughn did what he did best — produce. He was the team’s best power hitter and was the only Red to drive in over 100 runs that season.

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