Cincinnati Reds: Who was the best player in team history to wear No. 2?

PITTSBURGH - 1997: Outfielder Deion Sanders of the Cincinnati Reds (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH - 1997: Outfielder Deion Sanders of the Cincinnati Reds (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images)

Once the 2020 season gets underway, Nick Castellanos will don the No. 2, but who’s the best player in Cincinnati Reds history to ever wear that number on their jersey?

Before spring training, Alex Blandino switched uniform numbers, giving the newly acquired Nick Castellanos the opportunity to wear No. 2 during the upcoming season. Over the 150-year history of the Cincinnati Reds, 16 players have worn that jersey number. But, who among them was the best to ever play for the Reds?

Looking back over the history of the Cincinnati Reds, it appeared fashionable for the starting shortstop to wear the No. 2. Felipe Lopez (2004-2006), Royce Clayton (2006), Alex Gonzalez (2007-2009), Orlando Cabrera (2010) and Zack Cozart (2011-2017) all wore the No. 2 while playing shortstop for the Reds.

While Felipe Lopez won a Sliver Slugger and went to the All-Star Game in 2005, he was not the greatest player in Reds history to ever wear the No. 2. However, that season, Lopez hit .291/.352/.486 with 23 home runs and 85 RBIs. Lopez looked every bit like the successor to Barry Larkin that fans hoped he would be.

3 most foolish trades in Reds history. More

That dream fell apart very quickly, as Lopez was part of a package sent to the Washington Nationals in exchange for pitcher Gary Majewski, Bill Bray, Royce Clayton and others. Lopez would call five more cities home from 2008 to 2011 and was finally let go by the Milwaukee Brewers in August of 2011.

Primetime television usually doesn’t start until 8 o’clock, but Deion “Prime Time” Sanders wore the No. 2 during his return to Cincinnati in 2001. Sanders returned to the Reds on two different occasions, with his first comeback much sweeter than the second.

After spending the early part of his career with the Atlanta Braves and New York Yankees, Sanders came to the Queen City in 1994. Deion returned to Cincinnati in 1997 and finished second in the National League with 56 stolen bases. In 2001, Sanders took one more crack at playing baseball. He played in just 29 games for the Reds and was released after hitting just .173.

Some fans may be surprised to know that former catcher Jason LaRue wore No. 2 for a season. In 2000, LaRue’s second opportunity in the bigs, the Texas native switched from No. 26 to No. 2. LaRue finally settled on No. 23 during the remainder of his career with Cincinnati (2001-2006).

Speaking of catchers, aside from Johnny Bench, Ernie Lombardi was the best catcher in Reds history. He just so happened to wear the No. 2 as well and is undoubtedly the best player in Cincinnati Reds history to ever be associated with that jersey number.

Lombari had several different uniform numbers while playing for the Reds from 1932 to 1941, but from 1936 to 1937, the Hall of Famer wore No. 2. Lombardi was an eight-time All-Star who won the MVP in 1938 and helped lead Cincinnati to a World Championship in 1940.

Next. Which Reds player's jersey will be retired next?

During Lombardi’s MVP season of 1938, he led the league in batting average (.342) while racking up 30 doubles, 19 home runs and 95 RBIs. Ernie Lombardi may not have been a near-unanimous Hall of Famer like Derek Jeter, but he’s in Cooperstown alongside the New York Yankees’ most famous player to ever wear the No. 2.