Ranking the 5 best hitting shortstops in Cincinnati Reds history

Cincinnati Reds shortstop Barry Larkin
Cincinnati Reds shortstop Barry Larkin / Ron Vesely/GettyImages
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The Cincinnati Reds have a rich history of some of the best shortstops to ever play the game of baseball.

The Reds have seen some incredible defensive wizards field the position, but also some offensive-minded monsters. Historically, the shortstop position is viewed as defense first, while hitting is oftentimes viewed as an afterthought. Baseball, however, has gone away from that style of thinking.

Recently, bat-first shortstops have taken over. Players like Carlos Correa, Trea Turner, and Bo Bichette are some of the best in the game. Let's look at the five best hitting shortstops to ever wear a Cincinnati Reds uniform.

5. Best hitting shortstops in Reds history: Felipe Lopez (2003-2006)

Felipe Lopez joined the Reds at the turn of the 21st century, and spent just over three seasons in Cincinnati. Lopez slugged 41 home runs in under 400 at-bats in a Reds uniform, including a 23-home run season in 2005.

That 2005 season has withstood the test of time throughout Reds history as Lopez's 23 home runs that year are the most in a single season by a switch-hitter.

Lopez lacks in the counting statistics, behind a couple Reds that didn't make this list in areas like hits, home runs, and RBIs. But Lopez was able to compete with other Cincinnati greats, but in half the games and half the at-bats. Had Lopez spent more than three-plus seasons in the Queen City, his placement on the list would be much higher.

Felipe Lopez is still the best slugging switch-hitter the Reds may have ever seen. Chances are good, however, that Elly De La Cruz may quickly surpass many of the achievements Lopez did as a switch-hitting infielder.

4. Best hitting shortstops in Reds history: Leo Cardenas (1960-1968)

Leo Cardenas spent his first nine seasons in Cincinnati with the Reds. Cardenas made four All-Star appearances during that nine-year span and was one of just five Reds shortstops to ever register 1,000 career hits in a Reds uniform.

Surprisingly, Cardenas ranks fourth all-time among Reds shortstops in home runs, with 72 round trippers during his tenure in Cincinnati. What's surprising is that Cardenas was never really considered a home run hitter, but still found himself rather high on the list.

Cardenas spent most of his at-bats slugging doubles. Cardenas finds himself ranked third among shortstops and 28th all-time in team history with 182 career two-baggers.

Cardenas tallied at least 20 doubles in five different seasons, showing incredible consistency throughout his MLB career. Cardenas even continued this trend of consistency after his time in Cincinnati racking up three straight seasons of 20-plus doubles with the Minnesota Twins.

Leo Cardenas remains one of the best, and most criminally underrated, Cincinnati Reds shortstops in team history. He is often glossed over in favor of some of the flashier, more popular players, but Cardenas was quite good.

Cardenas was consistent and reliable, but most importantly, he was an offensive weapon for the Cincinnati Reds in the 1960s. Cardenas remains one of the Reds best hitting shortstops to this day.

3. Best hitting shortstops in Reds history: Zack Cozart (2011-2017)

Zack Cozart might be more well known for his injury history and the donkey that Joey Votto purchased for him after making the All-Star team than his actual on-the-field performance.

Cozart spent seven years as the Reds shortstop, and when he was actually in the lineup, he was one most consistent and reliable players on Cincinnati's roster. Cozart was able place himself in thir-place among shortstops in Reds history in home runs, despite playing under 800 games in Cincinnati.

Compared to other all-time greats who aare bound to be No. 1 and No. 2 on this list, Cozart is limited in a lot of the counting statistics due to his lack of playing time. But Cozart stands out with his ability to reach base, hit consistently, and score runs in an up and down decade in the 2010's for the Reds.

Most notably, Cozart exceeded expectations in 2017 when he was named to his lone All-Star Game. Cozart hit nearly .300 and slugged his way to a career-high in home runs (24) RBIs (63). His .933 OPS that year was his best in a season by over 100 points.

Zack Cozart came along at a time when shortstops became thought of for more favoriably for their bat than their glove. Cozart's tenure with the Cincinnati Reds brought a ton of production at the plate and on the base paths as well. To date, Cozart is one of the five best hitting shortstops in team history.

2. Best hitting shortstops in Reds history: Dave Concepcion (1970-1988)

The great, Dave Concepcion played every one of his nearly 2,500 games with the Cincinnati Reds. Concepcion showed the utmost loyalty to the city of Cincinnati, and the fans reciprocated with that same love in return.

While not the biggest name among the Great Eight, Concepcion was an integral piece of the Big Red Machine, and helped lead them to back-to-back World Series titles during his time in Cincinnati.

Concepcion was always known for his glove, but brought home two Silver Slugger Awards and was voted to the All-Star game nine times throughout the 1970s and 80s. Concepcion hit at least .280 in eight different seasons, including the 1987 season in which he hit .319 at 39 years of age.

Though Concepcion wasn't a home run hitter, he tallied over 20 doubles in 11 different seasons. Concepcion even got a Top 5 finish in the NL MVP race in 1981 due to his offensive production. Concepcion remains one of the most underrated offensive players Reds in their history.

Dave Concepcion still remains missing from the National Baseball Hall of Fame; easily one of the Reds best players to not be elected. In 2000, Concepcion was inducted into the Reds Hall of Fame and seven years later, his jersey No. 13 was retired by the only ball club he ever played for.

1. Best hitting shortstops in Reds history: Barry Larkin (1986-2004)

This choice should come as no surprise. Barry Larkin is head and shoulders above the rest of the Cincinnati Reds shortstops in terms of offensive production. Larkin spent his entire 19-year career in the Queen City and brought home numerous accolades during his Hall of Fame career.

Larkin ranks first among all Reds shortstop in team history in nearly every meaningful category, including home runs, RBIs, doubles, triples, stolen bases and runs scored.

Barry Larkin was a 12-time All-Star and was critical to the 1990 wire-to-wire Cincinnati Reds World Series Championship team. Larkin led that squad in hits (185), was second on the team in triple (6) and on-base percentage (.358).

Larkin wasn't just one of the best hitting shortstops in Cincinnati Reds history, but was one of the best hitters of his era. The infielder took home nine Silver Slugger Awards in his 19-year career. Larkin also won the NL MVP in 1995 due to his offensive outburst.

Barry Larkin wasn't just the best hitting Reds shortstop of all-time, but is one of the best hitting shortstops to ever step on the diamond. Larkin was a 2008 inductee into the Reds Hall of Fame and was honored at Cooperstown in 2012.

Larkin, who's currently part of the team's broadcast team, had his No. 11 retired by the Cincinnati Reds and it hangs above the playing surface at Great American Ball Park.

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