Thursday, December 13, 2012

Eight former Reds named one of the top 100 players of all-time

ESPN just finished running a series this week called the "Hall of 100" in which they attempted to accurately rank the top 100 players to ever play the game of baseball. The list was compiled without regard to scandals, conventional wisdom, or bias. The only thing they considered was the actual performance on the field. Refreshing, eh?

Here are the former Reds players who made the cut:

No. 74 SS Barry Larkin

Born and bred in Cincinnati, he played his entire career with the Reds. Won a World Series in 1990, batting .353 in Cincinnati's four-game sweep of Oakland. A 12-time All-Star, he finished his career with a .975 fielding percentage.

He collected 2,340 hits, scored 1,329 runs and had a .371 on-base percentage in 2,180 career games.

No. 37 OF Pete Rose

No one in the history of baseball has played more games (3,562) or stepped to the plate more times (15,890) than Rose did over his 24-year career. But the number that really counts is 4,256, his record for hits.

Known as "Charlie Hustle," Rose once said, "I'd walk through hell in a gasoline suit to play baseball."

No. 34 OF Ken Griffey Jr.
One of the game's most prolific power hitters (630 home runs, 1,836 RBIs). Check out these back-to-back power seasons: 56 HR, 147 RBIs in 1997 (AL MVP); and 56 HR, 146 RBIs in 1998.

When Seattle traded him to the Reds for Brett Tomko and others in 2000, Tomko said, "It's like being traded for [Michael] Jordan or something."

No. 29 P Christy Mathewson

Sure, some of his raw numbers were helped by virtue of pitching in the deadball era (career 2.13 ERA), but there is no question that he was the dominant pitcher of his time.

Not only did Mathewson lead the NL in ERA five times, but he paced the circuit in strikeout-walk ratio every season from 1907-14. For context, Greg Maddux's best run in that category was three years.

No. 27 C Johnny Bench

Most catchers are great hitters or fielders, but Bench was both. He led the league in homers twice, and caught stealing percentage three times, gunning down 43 percent of attempted basestealers in his career.

"I don't want to embarrass any other catcher by comparing him with Johnny Bench," said Sparky Anderson, his manager with the Reds.

No. 24 P Tom Seaver

What does it take to get the highest percentage of Hall of Fame votes in history? Well, it takes a fierce competitive streak.

Seaver, whose 98.84 percent in 1992 bests the likes of Mays and Ruth, was so miffed at losing the 1971 Cy Young Award (despite 20 wins and a 1.76 ERA) that he named his housecat after the winner: Ferguson Jenkins. (Jenkins snuck into the Hall in 1991 with 75.4 percent, the second-lowest percentage in history.)

No. 22 OF Frank Robinson

He might be the most underrated superstar of all time, and one of the most ferocious competitors ever to play the game.

He nearly reached 3,000 hits and 600 homers, he won a Triple Crown and, above all else, stands this quote from a former teammate, Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson: "When Frank came to Baltimore [in 1966], he taught us all how to win.''

No. 20 2B Joe Morgan

The 1964 Houston Colt .45s lost 96 games, but they did have two Hall of Fame second basemen. The one going was Nellie Fox, and the one coming was Joe Morgan.

In fact, it was Fox who first suggested to Morgan that he flap his right arm like a chicken in his batting stance to keep his elbows high -- a temporary reminder that Morgan used until his retirement in 1984. And now they're in the same wing of Cooperstown: Morgan was inducted in 1990, Fox in 1997.

These former Reds players received Honorable Mentions:

OF Sam Crawford

If the triple is baseball's most exciting play, perhaps no player was ever as exciting as Wahoo Sam, who holds the MLB record for three-bag hits with 309. He starred on the Tigers team that won three straight pennants from 1907-09 only to lose the World Series each time.

Before free agency, Crawford was a free agent of sorts. When the AL and NL were rivals for players, he signed with both the Reds and Tigers. A judge put him with Detroit and compensated the Reds.

OF Harry Heilmann

"Slug" was an appropriate label for the hard-hitting Heilmann. The contrast between the thunder in his lumber and his slow feet made the label appropriate twice over for this slugging star in the heavy-hitting '20s.

Heilmann won four batting titles, and his .403 average in 1923 made him the last AL right-hander to hit over .400 in a full season and the next-to-last man in the AL to do it at all.

You can check out ESPN's entire Hall of 100 here.

So, what do you think about where they ranked these guys?

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