The Big Red Machine is not exactly churning this season, as the team in southern Ohio is a mishmash of mediocrity stuck in the middle of the NL Central Division. Only one player, TJ Friedl, is hitting above .300, and he is currently on the injured list. We see nobody among Cincinnati’s best players of 2023 heading toward this list of the all-time greatest Reds.

The Reds have not won a playoff series since 1995. They were swept in the 2010 National League Division Series and the 2020 Wild Card series, fell to Pittsburgh in the 2013 Wild Card game, and lost 3-2 to San Francisco in the 2012 NLDS.

It makes you kind of miss the good old days of Marge Schott, no matter what sorts of craziness came out of her mouth.

Well, as any fan of the Boston Red Sox or Chicago Cubs will tell you, nothing bad lasts forever -- even Cincinnati Reds stats. And that means that brighter days are ahead for the Reds, whether it is this year, next year, or decades from now when your grandchildren have grandchildren of their own.

That’s baseball for you, and what this franchise has that many other teams do not is a rich Cincinnati Reds history just across the Ohio River from northern Kentucky. And while we are not giving up on this year’s Reds, since it is only late May, things certainly do not look promising at this juncture. They are on the Betway board at +5000 to win the franchise’s first World Series since 1990, and even Pete Rose would not make that wager (we think).

Hey, can we not have some humor when it comes to Rose, who was banned for life from baseball for placing bets on his own team. Wagering was considered a dirty activity back then, but times change. Today’s Reds fans can wager on games while attending them, because sports gambling is now legal in Ohio.

With that in mind, and channeling eternal hope that the present can somehow resemble the past, let’s have a look-see at the 10 best Cincinnati Reds players of all time. This team has been around since 1881, so we have 141-plus seasons of history to consider.

Cincinnati Reds Roster History

They have been nicknamed the Redlegs and the Big Red Machine, the latter because in the 1950s the word “red” was associated with Communism. There are 11 retired numbers, including No. 42 for Jackie Robinson, which has been retired by every MLB team. This franchise’s heyday decade was the 1970s, so we suggest throwing on a pair of bell bottoms before you continue reading.

Cincinnati Reds Hall of Famers

Nobody knows for certain whether Rose will ever be forgiven and allowed into Cooperstown to join the 11 enshrined players for whom Cincinnati was considered their primary team. In all, there are 43 Hall of Fame players who spent all or parts of their careers as Cincy Reds.

Famous Cincinnati Reds Players
Because the Reds were a charter member of the American Association in 1881 before joining the National League in 1890, there is a lengthy list of famous a great players that spans 142 years, during which time the club won five World Series titles and were at their best during the days of "the Big Red Machine" in the 1970s when Pete Rose was their leader and Joe Morgan, George Foster, Tony Perez, Ken Griffey and Johnny Bench comprised the core of a formidable offensive and defensive powerhouse. But no mention of the greatest Red ever would be complete without including Ted Kluszewski and Frank Robinson from the 1950s, pitcher Joe Nuxhall, who was 15 wen he pitched for the Reds in 1944 and became the youngest Major Leaguer ever, and also Ken Griffey Jr., who followed in his father's footsteps and spent eight seasons with the Reds from 2000-2008 after playing his first 11 seasons with the Seattle Mariners.

Ranking the Top 10 Greatest Cincinnati Reds Players of all time 

  1. Edd Roush Years with Reds: 1916 to 1921 and 1931
    Center field
    Career Stats with Reds: 47 HRs, 763 RBIs, .331 batting average.
    Honors and Awards: NL batting champion (1917, 1919), Hall of Fame (1962)

He joined the Reds at age 23 and spent 12 seasons with Cincinnati, producing 459 extra-base hits, 763 RBIs, and 199 stolen bases. The Oakland City, Ind., native won the batting title in both 1917 and 1919, and led the league in both doubles and triples at various points in his career. He helped the Reds win the World Series in 1919, and the Veteran's Committee voted him into the Hall of Fame. 

  1. Dave Concepcion Years with Reds: 1970 to 1988
    Career Stats with Reds: 101 HRs, 950 RBIs, .267 batting average
    Honors and Awards: All-Star Game (1973, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982), Gold Glove Award (1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1979), Silver Slugger Award (1981, 1982)

The native of Ocumare de la Costa, Venezuela, spent his entire 19-season career with the Reds and was an outstanding glove man, making up for his lack of hitting prowess when it comes to batting average. The guy was a vacuum when it came to fielding grounders anywhere near shortstop. He slashed .267/.322/.357 in 2,488 career contests, won the World Series in 1975 and 1976, and had 321 stolen bases.

  1. George Foster Years with Reds: 1971 to 1981
    Left field
    Career Stats with Reds: 244 HRs, 861 RBIs, .268 batting average
    Honors & Awards: NL MVP (1977), All-Star Game (1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1981), Silver Slugger Award (1981)

The fearsome-looking man from Tuscaloosa, Ala., spent 11 seasons in Cincinnati and was one of the most feared right-handed sluggers. He led the league in homers in both 1977 and 1978, and in RBIs for three years running from 1976 to 1978. His greatest baseball achievements are undoubtedly the two World Series rings that he won with Cincinnati in 1975 and 1976. George Foster is one of the best Cincinnati Reds Outfields of all time

  1. Tony Perez Years with Reds: 1964 to 1976 and 1984 to 1986
    Position: First base
    Career Stats with Reds: 287 HRs, 1,182 RBIs, .287 batting average
    Honors and Awards: All-Star Game (1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1974, 1975, 1976), Hall of Fame (2000)

From Ciego de Avila, Cuba, Perez was a critical right-handed bat in the middle of the lineup and a huge reason why Cincinnati won back-to-back World Series titles in 1975 and 1976. Perez drove in over 100 runs for Cincinnati six times, and while he never won the award, he finished in the top 10 in the NL MVP voting four different years.

  1. Joe Morgan Years with Reds: 1972 to 1986
    Second base.
    Career Stats with Reds: 152 HRs, 612 RBIs, .288 batting average
    Honors and Awards: NL MVP (1975, 1976), All-Star Game (1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979), Gold Glove Award (1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977), Hall of Fame (1990)

Considered one of the best second baseman ever, Morgan helped the Reds win the World Series in both of his MVP seasons. His No. 8 was retired in 1987, and he was voted into the Hall of Fame three short years later. He was best known for flapping his left elbow at the plate while hitting to remind himself to keep his elbow back.

  1. Frank Robinson Years with Reds: 1956 to 1965
    Position: Outfield/First base
    Career Stats with Reds: 324 HRs, 1,009 RBIs, .303 batting average
    Honors and Awards: NL MVP (1961), AL MVP (1966 with Baltimore), All-Star Game (1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1961, 1962, 1965), World Series MVP (1966 with Baltimore), Triple Crown (1966 with Baltimore), Gold Glove Award (1958), Hall of Fame (1982)

During his time in Cincinnati, Robinson was the NL Rookie of the Year in 1956 and represented the Reds in eight All-Star Games, including two in 1959. His No. 20 is retired.

  1. Joey Votto Years with Reds: 2007 to present
    Position: First base
    Career Stats with Reds: 342 HRs, 1,106 RBIs, .297 batting average
    Honors and Awards: NL MVP (2010), All-Star Game (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2017, 2018), Gold Glove Award (2011)

The Toronto, Ontario, native is known for rarely striking out. His calling card has always been his unbelievable plate discipline, which has allowed him to lead the league in walks five times and OBP on seven different occasions. His talent for putting the ball in play and getting on base will be a big part of his legacy. He is currently on the 60-day disabled list.

  1. Barry Larkin Years with Reds: 1986 to 2004
    Career Stats with Reds: 186 HRs, 960 RBIs, .295 batting average
    Honors & Awards: NL MVP (1995), All-Star Game (1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2004), Gold Glove Award (1994, 1995, 1996), Hall of Fame (2012)

A native of Cincinnati, Larkin led all major leaguers in 1988 by striking out only 24 times in 588 at bats. He was a huge reason why Cincinnati won the World Series in 1990. The Reds retired his No. 11 in 2012, and he landed in Cooperstown the following year. These days, he is the most recent link to their last World Series title.

  1. Johnny Bench

Years with Reds: 1967 to 1983
Position: Catcher
Career Stats with Reds: 389 HRs, 1,376 RBIs, .267 batting average
Honors and Awards: NL MVP (1970, 1972), All-Star Game (1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1983), World Series MVP (1976), Gold Glove Award (1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977), NL Rookie of the Year (1968), Hall of Fame (1989)

The preeminent catcher of his day, Bench was a two-time World Series champion and spent his entire 17-year career in Cincinnati. He was a near-unanimous Hall of Fame selection in 1989, something you almost never see with a catcher. One of the most beloved members of the Big Red Machine and the greatest catcher in MLB history.

  1. Pete Rose Years with Reds: 1963 to 1978 and 1984 to 1986
    Positions: Third base, Second base, Outfield, First base
    Career Stats with Reds: 152 HRs, 1,056 RBIs, .306 batting average
    Honors and Awards: NL MVP (1973), World Series MVP (1975), All-Star Game (1965, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982), NL Rookie of the Year (1963), Gold Glove Award (1969, 1970), Roberto Clemente Award (1976), MLB All-Century Team (1999)

If you take a mental picture of a guy sliding head-first into a base, Rose comes to mind. Sadly, if you take a mental picture of a guy who left a stain on the game, Rose’s ban for betting on his own team’s games while managing the Reds is right up there among the worst offenses (in the mind of Major League Baseball) ever committed. It remains to be seen whether baseball’s partnerships with businesses tied to gambling will change the perception of him and allow him to be enshrined in Cooperstown, but for now he must settle for being beloved in Cincinnati, Philadelphia (where he also played) and Las Vegas (where he currently signs autographs for a living). He is a native of Cincinnati.

Parameters of Ranking

Look, we like championships, OK? And while this franchise had numerous stars before the modern era of baseball began in 1900, anybody who came of age in the 1970s as a baseball fan and a baseball-card collector remembers how exceptional those Reds teams were and how much of an impact “Charlie Hustle” had on the way baseball was viewed back then. Melancholic? Yes, we plead guilty.


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