Monday, February 18, 2013

Athlon tabs Reds as one of MLB's top 10 franchises of last 50 years

If you had to objectively rank all 30 MLB teams based on their performance over the past 50 years, where would the Reds land on that list? Thankfully, our friends over at Athlon Sports already did the dirty work, so all there is left to do for us is to discuss Cincinnati's place on the list.

The Reds cracked the top 10, by the way, after claiming the No. 8 spot in the rankings. The only National League Central club to finish higher in the standings were the rival Redbirds from St. Louis (No. 2).

Here is what Athlon had to say about baseball's oldest professional franchise:

If this were 1980, the Reds would rival the Yankees, but the Marge Schott Era and tough economics have kept this proud franchise from reaching the top. Few traditions match their Opening Day parade.

The Good
The Big Red Machine of the 1970s became the face of the National League. From 1970-77, four Reds players were honored with six of the eight MVP awards.

The Bad
Even though the Reds had the best overall record in the NL West in 1981, they did not make the playoffs due to the split-season format caused by the players strike that wiped out more than a third of the season. The next two seasons Cincinnati finished with the worst record in the division.

Key Number: 9
Number of players manager Sparky Anderson sent to the plate for the entire 1976 World Series, a sweep of the Yankees.

I for one believe this is a pretty fair evaluation of the franchise over the past half century. The Big Red Machine was absolutely dominant in the 1970s, finishing in first place on six different occasions, and advancing to the World Series four times. Two of those seasons, 1975 and 1976, resulted in world championships.

The Reds took a humble fall from grace during the 1980s before finally climbing back to the top of the baseball mountain in 1990, with their fifth World Series crown in franchise history. The club returned to the postseason five years later, but wouldn't appear again until 2010. As you can tell, the Reds hit a bit of a winning drought between 1996 and 2009, finishing second or better in just two seasons.

But lately the storied franchise has enjoyed a resurgence. The Reds are aiming for their third National Central Division title in four years this season. And thanks to the fact that they have most of their key players locked up to multi-year contracts, the Reds look like a solid bet to contend beyond '13 as well.

You can check out Athlon's full list by clicking here.

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