5 Reds players who had success after switching positions

Cincinnati Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips
Cincinnati Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips / Matt Brown/GettyImages
5 of 5

The Cincinnati Reds have a problem. It's a great problem to have, but a problem nonetheless. The Reds have too many talented infielders that are demanding of a spot in the lineup, but only four spots in the infield. This kind of problem oftentimes results in a player or players switching positions.

With the impending promotion of Elly De La Cruz to the major league roster, the Reds likely will move an infielder or two into the outfield. Reds fans have seen this recently with Nick Senzel moving to center field, only to return to third base. Even more recently, Jose Barrero has been moved from shortstop to the outfield.

The Reds are no strangers to moving players to different positions. Sometimes it works very well, and other times it's an epic failure. With a likely position change for one of the Reds talented infielders on the horizon, let's look at five examples when the Cincinnati Reds got it right.

1. Former Reds shortstop Eugenio Suarez had success after switching to third base.

The most success that comes to mind when speaking about changing positions is former Cincinnati Reds slugger, Eugenio Suarez. Now with the Seattle Mariners, Geno originally came up as a shortstop.

In his first two major league seasons, including his first in Cincinnati, Suarez played up the middle of the infield, seeing time a third base just three times. Suarez's time at shortstop while with the Reds was primarily due to the fact that the team's everyday shortstop Zack Cozart suffered a major injury.

Suarez made the move to third base in 2016 after the Reds traded All-Star third baseman Todd Frazier to the Chicago White Sox during the previous offseason. Suarez had some big shoes to fill, as Frazier was a two-time All-Star and had won the Home Run Derby during his final season in Cincinnati.

Suarez would become a staple at the hot corner, playing 662 games at third base and only six games at shortstop from 2016 to 2020. During his final season in Cincinnati, the Reds made an attempt to move Suarez back to shortstop, but that didn't go too well. He was eventually moved back to third base in 2021 and replaced at shortstop by Kyle Farmer.

During his Cincinnati Reds career, Eugenio Suarez slugged 189 home runs and 828 total hits. The switch to third base was a massive success for Suarez and the Reds.

2. Former Reds shortstop Brandon Phillips had success after switching to second base.

For years, Brandon Phillips was a fan favorite in the Cincinnati Reds organization. Phillips was known for his impactful smile and incredible defense at second base. But Phillips wasn't always a second baseman.

Because Phillips spent his entire Reds career and almost his entire major league career at the keystone, many Reds fans don't know that he originally came up as a shortstop.

In fact, Phillips appeared at second base just 14 times in the minor leagues before his first stint in the majors in 2002. While part of the then-Cleveland Indians organization, Phillips made the switch to second base in 2003.

This position change worked out incredibly for the Reds. Phillips was traded to Cincinnati from Cleveland in 2006 for a player to be named later. Phillips played in over 1800 games at second base, logging nearly 16,000 innings in total. During the entirety of his career with the Reds, Phillips would only find his way back to shortstop on the rarest of occasions.

Brandon Phillips played 11 years in the Cincinnati Reds organization, where he won four Gold Gloves while playing second base. Phillips added three All-Star appearances and a Silver Slugger Award during his time in the Queen City.

3. Former Reds third baseman Tony Perez had success after switching to first base.

Tony Perez is regarded as one of the best players to even put on a Cincinnati Reds uniform. Perez spent his first 13 major league seasons with the Reds and returned to Cincinnati for the last three seasons of his big league career.

When he debuted at Crosley Field in 1964, Perez played first base. He would stay there for 192 games before moving to third base in order to better fit the needs of the Reds during the late 1960s and early 1970s that saw Lee May at first base.

Tony Perez would proceed to spend the next five seasons and over 700 games at the hot corner. Though his defense was suspect, owning a fielding percentage of .950. This, however, was the least of the Reds concerns, as the slugger would continue to produce at the plate.


In 1972, the Reds lost their slugging first baseman (May) to the Houston Astros in a trade that brought Joe Morgan to Cincinnati. That resulted in the Reds moving Perez back over to first base where he would play the rest of his 15 years in the MLB. After the 1971 season, Perez never returned to third base.

Tony Perez is a baseball legend. The slugger was part of two World Series Championship teams during his career, appeared in seven All-Star Games, and tallied 2,732 hits and 379 home runs. Perez's versatility was a very underrated part of his career, allowing him play both corners of the infield during his lengthy MLB career.

4. Former Reds catcher Joey Votto had success after switching to first base.

Multiple times over his career, the Cincinnati Reds have been in a situation where they might need to use their emergency catcher. Thankfully, Cincinnati has never had to turn to Joey Votto, though the former NL MVP was originally drafted as a catcher.

Shortly after Votto was drafted in 2002, he began to see time at different positions. Votto spent time in the Gulf Coast League playing catcher, third base, and in the outfield. Votto made the permanent switch from catcher to first baseman during the 2003, and outside of a few trips to the corner outfield in Triple-A during the 2007 season, he's never really left that spot.

While most Reds fans probably won't remember, during Votto's first taste of the big leagues, he saw some time in the Cincinnati outfield. In 2007, Votto started six games in left field while Scott Hatteberg was still manning first base.

During those six games, Votto committed one error while playing left field, but otherwise has a relatively spotless resumé as an outfielder.

Joey Votto is sure to be the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame, and many will make his case for Cooperstown as well once his career comes to a close. But very few will remember that Votto was originally drafted as a backstop. Votto does have once Gold Glove to his credit as a first baseman.

5. Former Reds second baseman Pete Rose had success everywhere on the field.

The term super utility player is thrown around a lot these days. Perhaps Cincinnati Reds legend Pete Rose was the greatest super utility player that ever set foot on a major league field. Rose began his major league career at second base, but wound up playing all over the diamond.

There can be no conversation about versatility and position changes without mentioning Rose. During Rose's legendary career, he played six different positions. Shortstop was the only position on the field outside of pitcher and catcher that Rose never played. The 17-time All-Star appeared in over 500 games at five different positions.

Rose, though not enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame, wasn't just one of the best players to ever lace up his cleats for the Cincinnati Reds. Rose remains one of the best players to ever touch a baseball field.

Rose holds the record for the most hits in a major league career (4,256). He won the Rookie of the Year in 1963 while primarily playing second base - though he also saw time in left field. During Rose's 1973 NL MVP season, the Hit King played in the outfield. But, during the Big Red Machine's back-to-back championship run, Rose played third base with a few spot starts in the outfield.

Pete Rose, unlike the other players on this list, made an adjustment to a new position on a regular basis. They don't make players like Rose anymore, from both a talent standpoint and versatility standpoint. Charlie Hustle was one of the best to ever do it.

Next. 5 players the Reds gave up on. 5 Reds players the organization gave up on too soon. dark