Cincinnati Reds: Best player in team history to wear No. 21

Michael Lorenzen is currently wearing the No. 21 for the Cincinnati Reds, but is there a better player in team history to have worn that uniform number?

The No. 21 has been quite popular throughout the history of the Cincinnati Reds franchise. Six-time All-Star Paul Derringer donned the No. 21 during the 1933 season, a year that saw him lose 25 games. More recently, however, some of the most popular players in club history have worn the No. 21. Finding the best player to have ever worn it may be a difficult task.

Five-time All-Star Tony Fernández wore the No. 21 during his lone campaign with Cincinnati in 1994. Unfortunately, the strike-shortened season didn’t allow for Fernández, Kevin Mitchell, Reggie Sanders and Barry Larkin to reach their potential as possible National League Champions. Tragically, Fernández passed away this past February due to complications following a stroke.

Paul O’Neill debuted for the Reds wearing No. 21 in 1985, playing just five games. O’Neill became a regular in the Cincinnati lineup in 1987 and played in 145 games in 1988. O’Neill put together a solid season during the Reds wire-to-wire run in 1990, hitting .270 with 16 home runs and 78 RBIs.

O’Neill went to his first All-Star Game the following season. In one of the more boneheaded trades in team history, O’Neill was traded to the New York Yankees following the 1992 season for Roberto Kelly. O’Neill would go on to win four more World Series titles and play in four more All-Star Games.

Deion “Primetime” Sanders donned the No. 21 during three seasons in the Queen City. Sanders played only 33 games in 1995, but returned to the Reds in 1997. Sanders swiped 56 bags that season while hitting .273 with 13 doubles.

Before there was Joey Votto, Scott Hatteberg manned first base for the Cincinnati Reds wearing No. 21. Hatteberg, previously with the Oakland Athletics, came to Cincinnati in 2006 to replace the departed Sean Casey. Hatteberg helped pave the way for future MVP Joey Votto, who took over as the full-time first baseman in 2008.

Speaking of Sean Casey, “The Mayor” occupied first base with the Reds while wearing the No. 21 from 1998-2005. Casey had one of the most engaging personalities in the Reds clubhouse, but also was a phenomenal performer on the baseball diamond.

Casey, who grew up in Pittsburgh, was traded to the Reds from the Cleveland Indians before the start of the 1998 season. Casey was a fantastic hitter, putting up a career batting average of .305 during his eight seasons with the Reds. Casey went to three All-Star Games and was a big part of the 1999 team that just missed out on a chance at the postseason.

Reds fans have fallen in love with Michael Lorenzen over the past few seasons. Since being called up to the bigs in 2015, Lorenzen has shown himself to be a capable pitcher, especially after being moved to the bullpen in 2016. That was the year that Lorenzen switched from No. 50 to No. 21.

Over the past three seasons, Mikey Biceps has been a key piece of the Cincinnati relief corps. Since 2017, Lorenzen has surpassed 80 innings of work each season while also showcasing his talents at the dish. Though he’s a pitcher by trade, Lorenzen has shown himself to be a quality outfielder off the bench and capable to smack one over the fence every so often as well.

Two-time All-Star Todd Frazier wore the No. 21 from 2011-2015. The Toddfather energized the standing-room only crowd at Great American Ball Park during the 2015 Home Run Derby and walked away holding the trophy before the night was over.

Frazier went to back-to-back All-Star Games in 2014 and 2015 before being shipped off to the Chicago White Sox in 2016 for Brandon Dixon, José Peraza and Scott Schebler. Currently, Schebler is the only player from that trade who’s still in a Reds uniform. Frazier hit 18-plus homers and racked up 65-plus RBIs in four straight seasons.

Next: Reds Top 10 all-time leaders in WAR

Looking back through Reds history, a lot of fan-favorites have worn the No. 21. Casey, Frazier, Lorenzen and O’Neill were all highly-regarded by those throughout Reds Country. In the end, Sean Casey is the best player to ever suit up in a Reds jersey with the No. 21 across the back. “The Mayor” will forever be etched in the memory banks of the fans in Cincinnati.

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