Who are the Top 5 shortstops to play for Cincinnati Reds over the last 50 years?
The Cincinnati Reds have a storied legacy. As the first professional sports franchise in the United States, their history goes back over a century. The Reds have been fortunate enough to maintain the services of some of the baseball’s greats.
Most Reds fans fondly remember The Big Red Machine of the 1970’s, Tom Browning‘s perfect game in 1988, Pete Rose‘s 4,192nd hit and the miracle run of the 1990 Reds team that swept the heavily-favored Oakland A’s.
Evaluating the top 5 Reds shortstops of the last 50 years will not be an easy task, as two players have occupied that position for 34 of the years in question. Let’s take a look back over the last 50 years (1969 – 2018) to see who are the Top 5 shortstops for the Reds.
5. Felipe Lopez (2003-2006)
Coming out of high school, Felipe Lopez was rated by Baseball America as the best defensive shortstop in the United States. Lopez was drafted in the first round of the 1998 MLB Draft by the Toronto Blue Jays. Lopez was the eighth overall pick.
Lopez was traded to Cincinnati during the 2002 offseason as part of a four-team trade that sent Elmer Dessens to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Lopez was the heir apparent to the Hall of Famer Barry Larkin.
Lopez backed up Larkin at shortstop for two seasons before gaining the starting spot following Larkin’s retirement. In 2005, Lopez had a breakout season. Lopez played in 148 games, hit .291 with a .352 on-base percentage. He cranked out 23 home runs and 85 RBIs while also stealing 15 bases. Lopez was selected to the All-Star Game and won a Silver Slugger Award that season.
Lopez’s time with the Reds was short-lived, however, as he was part of a major trade the following season. Lopez, outfielder Austin Kearns, and pitcher Ryan Wagner were sent to the Washington Nationals in exchange for pitchers Gary Majewski, Bill Bray, and shortstop Royce Clayton among others.
I know, Reds fans are thinking they got the worse end of that deal, but the 2006 season was not kind to Lopez. He had the worst fielding percentage (.957) among shortstops that season, a problem that would plague him into 2007 as well. Lopez never again reached the heights that made him an All-Star in 2005 and played for six teams over the last six years of his career.