ESPN severely underrates Reds legend Johnny Bench in Top 100 rankings of all-time

Cincinnati Reds Hall of Famer Johnny Bench is introduced at Clark Sports Center.
Cincinnati Reds Hall of Famer Johnny Bench is introduced at Clark Sports Center. / Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

Over the past few days, ESPN has been releasing their Top 100 MLB players of all-time. While it's an incredibly tough task, and sometimes it feels like splitting hairs, different outlets often try to slot some of the greatest players the sport has ever seen. Cincinnati Reds fans are likely to be incredibly put off by the fact that Johnny Bench doesn't crack the Top 25.

The worldwide leader in sports ranked the Reds legend at No. 29, behind the likes of Derek Jeter (28), Alex Rodriguez (26), Rickey Henderson (23), Mike Trout (15) and Pedro Martinez (11). Now, I don't envy the task of the editors and writers at ESPN, but leaving the greatest catcher of all-time out of the Top 25 feels like a swing and a miss.

ESPN ranked Reds legend Johnny Bench outside the Top 25 of all-time.

First, let's breakdown the process for selection. According to ESPN, the question posed to their editors and writers was: "Based on a combination of career value and peak performance, which player would you rank higher?" The website then gave the example; Barry Bonds or Ted Williams? Mike Trout or Joe DiMaggio?

When all the votes were tallied, Babe Ruth was unsurprisingly ranked No. 1. Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Ty Cobb, and the aforementioned Williams rounded out the Top 5. Bench edged out Reds' killer Albert Pujols (30) and former teammates Pete Rose (34) and Joe Morgan (37).

Bench was not only the greatest catcher of his generation, but the Hall of Famer is the greatest catcher of all-time. There are few, if any, who'll debate that fact. If that's the case, I find it hard to believe that the greatest player who fields the most difficult position in the game doesn't make the Top 25.

Now look, I'm not stumping for Bench to be ranked in the Top 5, or even the Top 10. I will raise an eyebrow, however, when Pedro Martinez comes in at No. 11. The three-time Cy Young Award-winner was great, no doubt, but when he rates higher than Greg Maddux and Nolan Ryan, I think the system is highly flawed.

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Johnny Bench is a 14-time All-Star, 10-time Gold Glove Award-winner, former Rookie of the Year, two-time MVP, and a two-time World Champion on the greatest team ever assembled. I think Bench deserves a bit better than No. 29. What say you, Reds Country?