Best Cincinnati Reds Ever: Chris Sabo v. Hal Morris

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First Round Matchup No. 7 Chris Sabo v. No. 10 Hal Morris


A second round pick of the Cincinnati Reds in 1983, the 5-foot-11 third baseman Chris Sabo quickly made his presence felt. In his first five minor league seasons he combined to hit 45 home runs before making his major league debut in 1988. All he did that season was belt 11 home runs, steal 46 bases, run away with the Rookie of the Year and make the All-Star team — the only rookie to make either All-Star team that season.

After just 82 games played with the Reds in 1989 Sabo rebounded with All-Star years in both 1990 and 1991. Spuds combined to hit 51 home runs, steal 44 bases, hit .285 and garnered MVP votes in each season. In the 1990 World Series with the Oakland Athletics, Sabo hit .563 with two home runs, five RBIs and just two strikeouts.

Sabo added two more ho-hum years after that and ended his career with a 54-game finale with the Reds, but his mark in Cincinnati was made during his rookie season and during the 1990 World Series run.

His likability was heightened by his small stature, eye-grabbing goggles and Pete Rose-like effort day-in and day-out on the field. And as Pete Rose once said about Sabo:

"“He reminds me of me when I was that age — the way he plays the game, I mean. He can’t wait to get to offense. He can’t wait to get to defense and after the game, he’s probably mad ’cause he’s got to wait ’til tomorrow to play again.”"

Sabo didn’t have the rocket arm, the blinding speed, or the raw power of the some the game’s greats, but he wanted as much or more than anyone else to take the field. Because of that, Sabo was inducted into the Reds Hall of Fame in 2010.

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After spending his first two MLB seasons with the New York Yankees, Hal Morris spent 10 of his next 11 seasons with the Cincinnati Reds. And all he did was hit. Despite just 74 home runs in 1,049 career games with the Reds, Morris carried a .305 average, 461 RBIs and just 467 strikeouts.

In 1990, helping to form a University of Michigan infield along with Barry Larkin and Chris Sabo, Morris helped pace the Reds to the World Series title while finishing third in the Rookie of the Year voting. He hit .340 with seven home runs and just 32 strikeouts across 107 games that season. He did struggle in the World Series though, going just 1 for 14 (.071), but added a sacrifice fly RBI in Game 4 which was ultimately the game-winning run.

The following season Morris hit 14 home runs, stole 10 bases and hit .318 — just one point behind the National League batting title winner Terry Pendleton. In 1994, Morris earned MVP votes after hitting .335 with 10 home runs and 78 RBIs. Two years later in 1996, Morris produced career-highs of 16 home runs and 80 RBIs while still hitting .313.

Morris was never an All-Star but his ability to get on base, hit behind runners and move runners into scoring position were vital components on successful teams. To his name, Morris also holds the highest career batting average (.319) at Riverfront Stadium.

He earned the Ernie Lombardi Award in 1994 as the Reds most valuable player. Morris twice finished in the top 5 among NL batting leaders, had a near perfect fielding percentage (.999) in 1992 — the best for a first baseman that season — and owns the second longest hitting streak (29 games) in Reds history.

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