Ranking the 5 best hitting first basemen in Cincinnati Reds history

Cincinnati Reds history
Cincinnati Reds history / John Grieshop/GettyImages
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The Cincinnati Reds are one of the most storied franchises in all of Major League Baseball. As such, the Reds have had plenty of talented first basemen pass through the organization over the past 100-plus seasons.

For the last 16 years, Joey Votto has locked down first base for the Reds. While polarizing at times, Votto been one of the best players of the 21st century. First base is mostly seen as an hit-first position, led by some of the greatest sluggers in baseball history.

But Votto isn't the only great first baseman to ever tie up his cleats while donning a Cincinnati Reds jersey. Who are the top five hitting first baseman in Reds history?

5. Best hitting first baseman in Reds history: Sean Casey (1998-2005)

Sean Casey spent eight seasons as the Cincinnati Reds first baseman at the turn of the 21st century. Casey held down the position with incredible production and consistency.

The left-handed hitter was a three-time All-Star and smacked at least 40 doubles in each of those three seasons. Casey ranks third all-time in doubles for a Reds first baseman with 256 doubles.

The Mayor had a knack for barreling baseballs. And the mighty Casey would not strikeout all that often. In just over 4,000 at bats at first base, Casey went down swinging just over 450 times while reaching on base via the walk 387 times. Casey's plate discipline was next-level.

Sean Casey ranks among the Top 5 first basemen in team history in RBIs, walks, total bases, and extra-base hits. Casey's .305 career batting average as a member of the Reds is a rarity in today's game.

Casey's offensive production helped pace the Reds in the early 2000's, cementing him as one of the best offensive first basemen in team history. The Mayor is still beloved in the Queen City.

4. Best hitting first baseman in Reds history: Lee May (1965-1971)

Lee May spent his first seven major league seasons with the Cincinnati Reds. During his time in Cincinnati, May was a two-time All-Star and received MVP consideration twice.

The 1970s slugger was best known for his power, as he crushed 147 home runs in just over 750 games as the Reds first baseman. That places May behind just behind Joey Votto and Ted Kluszewski in the history of Cincinnati first basemen.

May was more than just a slugger though, as he also hit .275 during his Cincinnati career. May played his best baseball in Cincinnati including a three-year stretch (1969-1971) where he hit 38, 34, and 39 home runs. That's a difficult feat in the era of exit velo and launch angle, but was perhaps more difficult during May's playing days.

The Big Bopper was a legendary first baseman and was elected into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame in 2006. May will forever be known as one of the first members of the Big Red Machine. The 1970 team won the National League pennant for the first time in almost a decade.

Lee May's impact on Reds baseball will resonate forever and he will always be one of the best hitting Reds first basemen in history. However, he may be more well-known as one of the key pieces that brought future Hall of Famer Joe Morgan to Cincinnati. May was sent to Houston as part of the trade that allowed Morgan to join the Big Red Machine.

3. Best hitting first baseman in Reds history: Tony Perez (1964-1976 & 1984-1986)

There's sure to be some pushback on this selection with one of the most beloved first basemen in Cincinnati Reds history ranked lower than most fans expect. However, don't forget that Tony Perez did not always play first base.

Following Lee May's departure from Cincinnati after the 1971 season, Perez took over at first base for the next five seasons before being traded to the Montreal Expos. Perez then returned to Cincinnati in 1984 and played a limited role, seeing the field about 70 times per year.

Perez played a total of 16 seasons in the Queen City but for only about five (1972-1976) of those 16 campaigns was Perez the Reds primary first baseman. From 1967-1971, Perez primarily played third base.

But while occupying first base, Tony Perez was one of the team's best hitters and a key cog of the Big Red Machine. Perez received MVP votes in six separate seasons and was named to seven All-Star teams in his time in Cincinnati.


Perez played a key part in multiple World Series championships as part of the Big Red Machine and tallied at least 100 RBIs six separate times during his Reds career. Perez's dominance in the heart of the Reds batting order during the 1970s helped cement his legacy as one of the biggest run producers in team history.

Perez's 141 home runs as a first baseman ranks him fourth in Cincinnati Reds history, as he was truly an anchor for the Big Red Machine. Perez was inducted into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame in 1998. Just two years later, he was enshrined into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Perez is a Reds legend and one of the best first basemen in Reds history.

2. Best hitting first baseman in Reds history: Ted Kluszewski (1947-1957)

The Big Klu, Ted Kluszewski, is one of the most memorable players in the Cincinnati Reds lengthy history. Kluszewski was known for his imposing physical appearance and the incredible power in his bat.

Kluszewski totaled 251 home runs as a member of the Reds, which is good enough for fifth place all-time in team history and is second among Cincinnati first basemen. The Big Klu spent 11 seasons with the Reds and finished in the Top 10 in among MVP vote-getters on three seprate occasions. This included a second-place finish for the award in 1954.

In that 1954 season, Kluszewski set career highs across the board in home runs, RBIs, batting average, on-base percentage, and OPS. Kluszewski's 49 home runs that season are still the most by any Reds first baseman in a single season.

Ted Kluszewski will always be known as one of the greatest Reds in history, especially for his cut-off sleeves and power in the batters' box. Kluszewski was inducted into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame in 1962, just a year after he retired from professional baseball.

Kluszewski became actively involved as the hitting coach for the Reds during the Big Red Machine era. Kluszewski has a statue outside Great American Ball Park, and in 1998, his No. 18 was retired by the Reds, further cementing his legacy as a big part of the team's long and storied history.

1. Best hitting first baseman in Reds history: Joey Votto (2007-present)

This should come as no surprise to anybody. Joey Votto is the best hitting first baseman in Cincinnati Reds history. Furthermore, Votto is one of the best players of his era.

To date, Votto has spent his entire 16-year career as the Cincinnati Reds first baseman. Votto has provided unwavering consistency at the dish over nearly two decades. The slugger has received MVP consideration on nine separate occasions while also appearing in six All-Star Games.

Joey Votto's National League MVP award in 2010 was the first time a Reds player had won the award since Barry Larkin did so in 1995. That season, Votto led the league in on-base percentage and slugging percentage while notching 36 doubles and 37 home runs.

Votto has three seasons with an on-base percentage over .450, and a career-OBP over .400. Votto led the NL in that category on seven different occasions.

Votto ranks first among all Reds first basemen in nearly every statistical category. He has combined plate discipline, power, and a career batting average of nearly .300 to help turn himself into one of the greatest hitters in team history.

Cincinnati Reds fans will miss Joey Votto when he's gone. The 2023 season represents the final guaranteed year on Votto's 10-year contract extension. The game of baseball will miss him as well. Few players approach the game with the type of mental acumen that Votto does. He's incredibly cerebral in his approach to hitting.

Joey Votto will one day have his No. 19 retired and enter the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame. Though fiercely debated on social media, by all accounts, Votto will also be enshrined in Cooperstown shortly after his Hall of Fame-worthy career comes to a close.

Next. Top 5 SS in Reds history. Ranking the Top 5 hitting shortstops in Reds history. dark