May 26, 2022

The All-Time Cincinnati Reds (a draft book chapter)

July 12, 2010 by · 2 Comments 

Who would be selected for a mythical All-Time Cincinnati Reds dream team roster? Who would be the starters and who the backups? Who gets snubbed, not quite good enough to make the squad? And how have other authors, as well as fan surveys and the like, answered this fun question throughout the years?

This is the next of what will be many postings to Seamheads that summarize draft book chapters in my forthcoming book on baseball “All-Time Teams” (book title TBD.) As I update/write each chapter, I will post an abstract here, with a link to the full draft chapter as a PDF file hosted at my personal website. I am doing this in part to get comments and feedback as I continue the writing process. My intention is to post another team’s chapter every few weeks. To read the entire draft chapter for the Reds, please see the  index web page and see the PDF for the Reds chapter. Also, I encourage you to read the draft of the book introduction as well, which explains a few ground rules for this project (e.g., that I am not separating  OF positions into RF, CF, LF, and that I am only counting the time players played for that particular franchise, not their time played for other teams).

(These first two paragraphs are the chapter’s introduction, as written…)

The early days of baseball in Cincinnati are complicated. The original Cincinnati Red Stockings were baseball’s first openly all-professional team (1869). As such, they dominated the early baseball scene: they won their first game that year 45-9, and they won 130 games in a row over two seasons (actually, 81 games and 49 “exhibitions”). However, their best players moved to Boston to start up the Boston Red Stockings — the ancestor of the Atlanta Braves, not the modern day Boston Red Sox. A new Cincinnati team, again named the Red Stockings (although at times called the Porkopolitans… I kid you not!), became a charter member of the National League in 1876. The team was expelled from the league after the 1880 season, in part for violating rules by serving beer to fans at games (not to mention that they rented out their ballpark on Sundays… the horror!). A new Cincinnati team joined the American Association starting in 1882, and it is this club that can truly be said to be the direct ancestor of the current franchise. The club was granted re-admission to the NL after the 1889 season. The upshot is that this All-Time Team will follow tradition and consider the Reds franchise to have begun in 1882, and therefore only count the players and statistics from that year onward.

Fast-forwarding to modern times, as you might expect the familiar 1970s Big Red Machine is well-represented on this All-Time Reds team. But what other stars have the Reds had over the past 100+ years? Since 1882 they have captured ten pennants and five championships (including the 1919 World Series, where they were the “winners” against the infamous “Black Sox”). What you’ll find, however, is that like some other teams their all-time hitters seem much stronger, relatively speaking, than their all-time pitchers.

I will now list my selections for starter and backup at each position, including six outfielders (without separation by RF/CF/LF), and also including 10 pitchers (any combination of up to 8 starters and up to 4 relievers). For my write-ups on why I chose each player, and for the many other players I considered at each position, see the full draft chapter for this team.

  • 1B: Ted Kluszewski, Frank McCormick
  • 2B: Joe Morgan, Bid McPhee
  • 3B: Tony Perez, Heinie Groh
  • SS: Barry Larkin, Dave Concepcion
  • C: Johnny Bench, Ernie Lombardi
  • OF: Pete Rose, Frank Robinson, Vada Pinson, Edd Roush, George Foster, Eric Davis
  • SP: Bucky Walters, Paul Derringer, Eppa Rixey, Dolf Luque, Jim Maloney, Noodles Hahn, Tony Mullane
  • RP: John Franco, Danny Graves, Clay Carroll

There were some tough decisions, and lots of good players who didn’t make this roster, so see the full draft chapter for details. And for each team I am picking one “extra” player, the one who I felt was most deserving amongst those who were not selected as a starter, backup, or amongst the ten pitchers. Who do you think it should be for the Reds?

One reasonable starting lineup might be:

  1. Joe Morgan 2B
  2. Pete Rose OF
  3. Frank Robinson OF
  4. Johnny Bench C
  5. Tony Perez 3B
  6. Ted Kluzewski 1B
  7. Vada Pinson OF
  8. Barry Larkin SS
  9. Bucky Walters SP 

In the full draft chapter I then discuss the selections from other authors and fan surveys, including:

  • 1958: Sport magazine, March issue
  • 1969: The Sporting News fan poll
  • 1990: “All-Time All-Star Teams”, The Baseball Research Journal
  • 1992: The All-Time All-Star Baseball Book, Nick Acocella, and Donald Dewey
  • 1995: Baseball Ratings by Charles S. Faber
  • 2003: Rob Neyer’s Big Book of Baseball Lineups, by Rob Neyer
  • 2006: The Team By Team Encyclopedia of Major League Baseball, by Dennis Purdy (not an all-time team per se, but his list of “significant players”)

Do you know of any books or fan surveys that I’ve missed here? Please let me know in the comments to this posting.

Finally, as part of this project I am determining the all-time team that would be determined by Bill James’ innovative  Win Shares system. To see those results, see the full draft chapter for this team.

Again, your comments and feedback on the draft chapter are very much appreciated, as I hope to get the book published in the next year or so.


2 Responses to “The All-Time Cincinnati Reds (a draft book chapter)”
  1. Mike Lynch says:

    I’d go with Big Klu in the five hole to break up the three righthanded bats in the middle of the order. On the other hand, those three bats belong to Hall of Famers so who am I kidding?

  2. Cliff Blau says:

    The present Cincinnati franchise dates to 1891. The 1890 franchise was sold to Al Johnson on October 5, 1890, and he moved the club to the Players League. The NL awarded a new franchise to John Brush, and he incorporated the current club on February 14, 1891.

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