Cincinnati Reds: Who was the best player in team history to wear No. 4?

CINCINNATI, OH - JUNE 24: Brandon Phillips #4 of the Cincinnati Reds (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - JUNE 24: Brandon Phillips #4 of the Cincinnati Reds (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images) /

The Cincinnati Reds storied history includes several great players who’ve worn the No. 4. But whom among them was the best?

The Cincinnati Reds have yet to retire No. 4, despite Brandon Phillips‘ likely objection. All kidding aside, Phillips was one of the greatest players in Reds history to ever wear the No. 4 on the back of his jersey, but was Dat Dude the best in team history? Let’s take a look back, shall we?

Brandon Phillips was part of one of the greatest trades in Reds history. Before the start of the 2006 season, Phillips was dealt from the Cleveland Indians to Cincinnati in exchange for a player to be named later (Jeff Stevens). Phillips would go on to win for Gold Gloves and participate in three All-Star Games.

Brandon Phillips spent 11 seasons in the Queen City before being traded to the Atlanta Braves in 2017. Phillips was the model of consistency, never playing in fewer in 120 games and always putting on a dazzling display of athleticism and skill at the plate and on the field. Phillips finished hit Reds career with 191 home runs, 851 RBIs and 194 stolen bases.

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Throughout the 150-year history of the Reds, the No. 4 was worn by 20 different players. Last season, another infielder with a slick glove wore that same jersey number. During his solo act in Cincinnati, José Iglesias reminded a lot of Reds fans of Brandon Phillips with his wizardry in the field. Iglesias signed on with the Baltimore Orioles this past winter.

Cliff Pennington and Brandon Dixon both wore the No. 4 during the 2018 season. The year before, in controversial fashion, Scooter Gennett suited up with the No. 4 on his back. Phillips was stunned when the Reds handed out his jersey number to Gennett following his departure. Here’s a quote from Phillips via the Cincinnati Enquirer:

"“I still can’t believe that No. 4, is… someone is wearing my number. I think that’s a slap in my face, too. But it is what it is. Man, people have their own opinions and I’m going to have mine.”"

Former top prospect Brandon Larson was given No. 4 before making his MLB debut in 2001. Larson would eventually switch to No. 16, but those two digits didn’t help the former first-round pick hit any better. Larson’s career batting average was a paltry .179 and he fizzled out after just 109 big league games.

It was Christmas in September back in 1983 when left-handed hitting backstop Steve Christmas had a cup of coffee in the big leagues. Christmas wore the No. 4 for the Reds during nine games. Christmas had just one hit in 17 at-bats and finished his major league career with a .162 batting average in 24 games.

There are actually several Hall of Famers who’ve worn the No. 4 for the Cincinnati Reds over the years. Chick Hafey, who was an All-Star in 1933 and played five seasons in the Queen City. Hafey was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1971 by the Veterans Committee.

Kiki Cuyler, another Hall of Famer elected by the Veterans Committee, played 18 major league seasons, three of which were in a Reds uniform. Cuyler played for Cincinnati from 1935 to 1937, but wore the No. 8 during his first year with the ball club.

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Ernie Lombardi, the Hall of Fame catcher, wore the No. 4 from 1939 to 1941. Lombardi wore several different uniform numbers during his time with the Reds, but was wearing the No. 4 during the team’s World Series run in 1940. In the three seasons Lombardi wore the No. 4, he hit .289 with 44 home runs and 219 RBIs en route to two All-Star appearances and a Top 10 MVP finish.