Cincinnati Reds: Who was the best player in team history to wear No. 7?

CINCINNATI, OH - APRIL 10: Eugenio Suarez #7 of the Cincinnati Reds (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - APRIL 10: Eugenio Suarez #7 of the Cincinnati Reds (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /

Lucky No. 7 has been worn by 35 different players throughout the 150-year of the Cincinnati Reds. Who was the best player to ever wear it?

Is it too early to deem Eugenio Suárez the best player in Cincinnati Reds history to have worn the No. 7? Maybe, but maybe not. The 28-year-old slugger has certainly put together an impressive run over the past two seasons. Suárez went to his first All-Star Game in 2018 and was an outlier in the MVP race last season.

Over the past two seasons, Suárez has hit .277/.362/.550 with 83 home runs and 207 RBIs. Suárez nearly set the Reds record for home runs in a single season last year and has seemed to improve every season he’s been in the big leagues. Since making his Cincinnati debut in 2015, Geno has 143 homers and 407 RBIs. But which other impactful players in team history have worn No. 7?

Super-utility specialist Juan Castro held claim to the No. 7 for years. Though never dynamite with the bat, Castro’s glove was a thing of beauty. In eight years with the Reds, Castro saw time at every infield position with 200-plus games at shortstop.

Reds Top 10 all-time leaders in WAR. Related Story

During the Reds run to the NL Central Championship in 2010, Paul Janish wore the No. 7 while starting 50-plus in the Cincinnati infield. The No. 7 was worn by Mariano Duncan during the Reds wire-to-wire run in 1990. Duncan led the league in triples that season with 11 and was key piece to the Reds victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates in the NLCS.

A forgotten player in team history to have worn the No. 7 was Kevin Mitchell. Before coming to Cincinnati in 1993, he’d played for four different teams winning the MVP in 1989. Attitude problems and issues with his weight among other things put a halt to Mitchell’s productive career.

However, at age 31, Mitchell had a bit of a revival to his career in Cincinnati. In just 93 games, Mitchell hit .341 with 19 round trippers in his first year in the Queen City. The following season, Mitchell hit .326 with 30 home runs and was in the MVP conversation. Who knows where his Reds career may have ended up had the season not been cut short by the player’s strike.

Digging a bit deeper into the record books, we see that several catchers wore the No. 7, including Joe Oliver (1997), Don Werner (1975 to 1978), Jimmy Coker (1964 to 1967), Johnny Riddle (1941) and nine-time All-Star Smoky Burgess (1955 to 1958). Of course, Burgess never made it to the All-Star Game during his three-plus seasons in Cincinnati.

Another catcher, Walker Cooper, also wore the No. 7 during his Reds career (1949 to 1950). However, none of the backstop’s eight All-Star appearances came while he was behind the plate in Cincinnati. Cooper nearly won the MVP while playing for St. Louis in 1943.

As we’ve seen in previous investigations into the history of uniform numbers worn by former Reds players, Ernie Lombardi has worn many different uniform numbers, including the No. 7. That number was the first one that Schnozz ever wore as a member of the Cincinnati Reds. From 1932 to 1933, Lombardi hit .294 with 15 homers and 115 runs batted in.

Reds Top 10 players of all-time in HRs. Next

Considering he wore six different jersey numbers during his Cincinnati career and was already recognized as the best player in team history to wear the No. 2, I’m leaving Ernie Lombardi out of contention. Given his current standing and the likely trajectory of his career, I have no reason to doubt that Eugenio Suárez is the best Reds player to ever wear No. 7.