This is the fourth article in a series that looks at the five best players at each position for the Cincinnati Reds. In this installment are the outfielders.
The list of best Cincinnati Reds outfielders is littered with players from the team’s best period of success, the 1960s and ‘’70s. was difficult. Seven players in this article starred for the franchise either during the “Big Red Machine” era or just before. There are also three Hall of Famers on the list and another who would certainly be there if not for his own poor choices.
The Best Outfielders in Cincinnati Reds History
Honorable Mentions – Charley Jones spent three seasons with the Red Stockings of the National League (1876-77 and 77-78) and returned to Cincinnati with the new American Association franchise for five years (1883-87). “Baby” led the league in 80 RBIs in 90 games in his first season and totaled 424 runs, 603 hits, 60 triples, 294 runs batted in, and a .301 average in 482 games.
Louis “Pat” Duncan spent six years with the Reds (1919-24), winning the fielding title in 1923. The year before, he had his best season offensively, setting career highs by hitting .328 with 94 runs, 199 hits, 44 doubles 12 triples, eight home runs and 94 runs batted in. Overall, Duncan batted .307 with 826 hits, 137 doubles, 50 triples, and 374 RBIs in 724 games. He had seven hits, three runs, and eight RBIs in the 1919 World Series victory over the White Sox.
5. Bob Bescher – He was a speedster and a solid fielder who led the National League in stolen bases four times, with at least 50 each season and a high of 81 in 1911. The following year, Bescher led the league with 120 runs scored. In six seasons with the Reds (1908-13), he had 496 runs, 736 hits, 219 RBIs, and 320 stolen bases (which ranks seventh in team history) in 745 games.
4. Adam Dunn – As a pure power hitter, he was the opposite of Bescher. In eight seasons with Cincinnati (2001-08), Dunn hit 30 or more home runs five times, but he also had at least 100 strikeouts five times. “Big Donkey” totaled 678 runs, 920 hits, 270 home runs (fifth best in franchise history), 646 runs batted in, and 1,212 strikeouts in 1,087 games.
3. Pete Rose – Although he played almost an equal number of games at four positions, it is in left field where he achieved his highest honor as a player, so this is where his entire career will be examined. “Charlie Hustle” played four seasons at the position (1967 and 72-74), earning an All-Star selection three times. He won his only MVP award in 1973, leading the National League with a .338 average and 230 hits (which was also a team record) and amassing 115 runs, 36 doubles, and 64 runs batted in. Rose’s totals at the position are a .309 average, 418 runs, 789 hits, 144 doubles, and 248 RBIs in 625 games. He also had 23 hits, seven runs, five doubles, three homers, and six RBIs in 17 playoff contests as a left fielder.
Rose had one of the most productive careers in the game’s history. He is the Reds’ franchise leader in games (2,722), runs (1,714), hits (3,358), doubles (601) and total bases (4,645), and he also ranks fourth in triples (115), fifth in RBIs (1,036) and tied for tenth in average (.307). In addition to the MVP award, Rose also was a 13-time All-Star with Cincinnati, won two gold gloves, the Rookie of the Year award in 1963, the World Series MVP award in 1975, won three batting titles, and tied the National League record with a 44-game hitting streak in 1978. He went to six World Series in his career, four of them with the Reds, and he was a two-time champion with the “Big Red Machine.” His postseason numbers with Cincinnati include 55 hits, 20 runs, 10 doubles, five home runs, and 16 RBIs in 42 games.
Overall, Rose played 24 seasons, and he is the all-time Major League leader in games played (3,562), at-bats (14,053), hits (4,256), and singles (3,215). He returned to his hometown Reds for his final three seasons as a player-manager, eclipsing Ty Cobb’s record of 4,191 hits with a single off Padres starter Eric Show on September 11, 1985. He is also second on the all-time list with 746 doubles, sixth with 2,165 runs scored, and ninth with 5,752 total bases. Unfortunately, barring a reprieve from a future commissioner, Rose will never be associated with Major League Baseball again, thanks to the lifetime ban administered by then-commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti on August 24, 1989. He also will not get into the Baseball Hall of Fame after the museum’s Board of Directors decided that anyone on baseball’s ineligible list cannot be on any potential ballot. Rose has been inducted into one baseball-related Hall of Fame, though. He took his place with other Reds greats in 2016.
2. George Foster – Although he was criticized for not being a team player at times, he was the final member of the “Big Red Machine” to leave, staying in Cincinnati into the early 1980s. During his 11 seasons (1971-81), Foster was a five-time All-Star (he was the MVP of the game in 1976), won four fielding titles, as well as a silver slugger in his final season with the Reds. In 1976, he was the MVP runner-up after posting a .306 average, 86 runs, 172 hits, 29 home runs and a league-leading 121 runs batted in.
Foster put up even better numbers the next year, taking home the MVP trophy after setting career highs with a .320 average, 197 hits, 31 doubles and league-high totals of 124 runs, 52 homers and 149 RBIs. The homer and RBI totals, as well as his 388 total bases, are single-season franchise records. Foster ranks seventh in franchise history in home runs (244) and tenth in RBIs (861) to go along with a .286 average, 680 runs and 1,276 hits in 1,253 games. The two-time champion had 22 hits, 11 runs, three homers and 12 RBIs in 23 postseason games. Foster was traded to the Mets before the 1982 season and saw his production fall off over his final five years.
1. Frank Robinson – He was the team’s top star in the period just before the “Big Red Machine.” In 10 seasons with the Reds (1956-65), Robinson was an eight time All-Star, led the National League in slugging percentage three times, had seven seasons with at least 160 hits and 30 home runs, six with at least 100 runs scored, and he drove in 100 runs four times. “The Judge” was the 1956 Rookie of the Year, leading the league with 122 runs while also hitting .290 with 166 hits, 38 home runs (a rookie record at the time) and 83 runs batted in. Robinson won the MVP award in 1961, hitting .342 with 208 hits, 39 homers, 136 RBIs and league-high totals of 134 runs and 51 doubles (which also tied for the franchise record) while leading the team to their first pennant in 21 years.
Robinson finished his Reds run ranked third on the team’s all-time list in home runs (324), sixth in RBIs (1,009) and runs (1,043) eighth in doubles (318) and total bases (3,063) and tenth in games (1,502). The 1958 Gold Glove winner also hit .303 with 1,673 hits and 161 stolen bases. Robinson helped his team reach the 1961 World Series, totaling three runs, two doubles a home run and four RBIs in a loss to the Yankees.
A vocal and sometimes angry Civil Rights activist, Robinson sparked a racially motivated brawl after sliding hard into the Braves’ Eddie Matthews in a play at third base in 1959. He was traded to Baltimore in late 1965 and became the first player to earn MVP honors in both leagues when he won the award (as well as the Triple Crown and World Series MVP honors) in his first season in Charm City. Robinson also helped the Orioles defeat his former team in the 1970 World Series. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 1982.
Honorable Mentions – James “Bug” Holliday joined the time in their final season in the American Association and stayed for most of the next decade. His best season was 1894, when he set career highs with 126 runs, 196 hits and 123 RBIs, and he also hit .376, which is the second-highest single-season mark in team history. Holliday is tied for fifth on the all-time franchise list with a .312 average and he ranks tenth with 252 stolen bases. He also had 735 runs, 1,141 hits, 72 triples, 65 home runs and 621 RBIs in 930 games over ten seasons (1889-98).
James “Cy” Seymour was a wonderful contact hitter and a solid fielder who spent five seasons in Cincinnati (1902-06). His best season was 1905, when he set career highs with 95 runs, 219 hits, 40 doubles, 21 triples, 121 runs batted in and a .377 average (which is also the team record). He also led the league in everything but runs that year. Seymour is the all-time franchise leader with a .332 average, and he also had 313 runs, 738 hits, 106 doubles, 53 triples and 326 RBIs in 556 games.
Billy Hamilton was known for one thing when he came up to the big leagues, speed. The two-time MLB Futures Game participant (2012-13) finished second in the Rookie of the Year voting after totaling 141 hits, 72 runs and 56 stolen bases in 2014. Three years later, he posted career highs with 85 runs, 144 hits, 11 triples and 59 steals. “Bone” was a two-time fielding champion who ranks eighth in franchise history with 277 stolen bases, including four straight seasons with 50 or more.
Ken Griffey Jr. spent a lot of time in Cincinnati when his father played there during the “Big Red Machine” days, and he played with the Reds for nine seasons (2000-08). While he did not have the stellar run he had in Seattle, he was a solid and steady performer during his time in the Queen City. Griffey’s best season with the Reds was his first, when he hit .271 with 100 runs, 40 home runs and 118 runs batted in. The three-time All-Star suffered a devastating injury in 2004, when his hamstring first partially tore and then ruptured and tore completely off the bone, leading to a surgery in which three screws were used to reattach the muscle. Griffey responded by winning the Comeback Player of the Year award in 2005. He ranks ninth in team history with 210 home runs, and he also had 533 runs, 904 hits and 602 RBIs in 945 games. Griffey was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2016 with 99.3 percent of the vote.
5. Gus Bell – He is part of three generations of Major League players, and his grandson, David Bell, is the current Reds manager. Gus put his family first, which got him traded by the Pirates because they wouldn’t let him take his family to spring training. He spent nine years in Cincinnati (1953-61), earning four All-Star selections and winning two fielding titles. In his first season, he hit .300 with 102 runs scored, 183 hits, 37 doubles, 105 runs batted in and a career-high 30 home runs. Overall, he batted .288 with 634 runs, 1,343 hits, 228 doubles, 160 homers and 711 RBIs in 1,235 games. Bell went 0-for-3 off the bench in the 1961 World Series. Bell was taken in the expansion draft and got the first hit in New York Mets history.
4. Cesar Geronimo – He was an underrated member of the “Big Red Machine” winning four gold gloves and two titles during his nine seasons in Cincinnati (1972-80). Geronimo had his best season in 1976, when he set career highs with a .307 average, 149 runs, 11 triples and 22 stolen bases. He finished Reds his career hitting .261 with 864 hits, 148 doubles and 344 RBIs in 1,203 games. In the playoffs, Geronimo had 20 hits, nine runs, three homers, 11 RBIs and three steals in 35 games.
3. Eric Davis – He was a popular player during his nine seasons with the Reds (1984-91 and 96), with fans loving his all-out playing style. “Eric the Red” was a two-time All-Star who earned three gold gloves and two silver slugger awards during his time in Cincinnati. He stole a career-high 80 bases in 1986 and earned his first All-Star selection the following year when he stole 50, bases, drove in 100 runs and set career-highs with a .293 average, 120 runs, 139 hits and 37 home runs. Davis was an All-Star again in 1989 when he hit .281 with 34 homers and a career-high 101 RBIs.
Although Davis was loved for his hard-nosed style of play, it eventually affected him on the field. He missed time after suffering a lacerated kidney diving for a ball in Game 4 of the 1990 World Series. Davis was traded after the 1991 season and spent time with the Dodgers and Tigers, missing all of 1995 due to a herniated disc in his neck. He returned to the Reds for one season in 1996, winning Comeback Player of the Year after posting a .2878-26-83 stat line. However, he was only healthy for one out of his next five seasons spent with three teams while also battling colon cancer before he retired in 2001. Davis ranks ninth in franchise history in stolen bases (270) and tenth in home runs (203), and he also has 635 runs, 886 hits and 615 RBIs in 985 games.
2. Vada Pinson – He preceded Geronimo and gave the Reds nearly two full decades of stellar center field play. The four-time All-Star won a gold glove in 1961, and he also finished third in the MVP voting after hitting a career-high .343 with a league-leading 208 hits, to go along with 101 runs, 16 home runs and 87 runs batted in. Pinson led the National League in hits, doubles and triples twice each, and he also topped the circuit with 131 runs in 1959.
He ranks fifth in franchise history in triples (96), sixth in doubles (342), eighth in runs (978) and hits (1,881) and ninth in total bases (2,973) and games (1,565). Pinson also hit .286 with 186 home runs, 814 RBIs and 221 stolen bases in 11 seasons in Cincinnati (1958-68). He went 2-for-22 with a double in a losing effort against the Yankees in the 1961 World Series. Recurring hamstring injuries led to Pinson being traded to the Cardinals after the 1968 seasons, and he played with four other teams before retiring in 1975. He suffered a stroke and passed away in 1995.
1. Edd Roush – Here is just another of several tough decisions among who should start at each position. Roush was traded from the Giants along with future Hall of Famers Christy Mathewson and Bill McKechnie (who made it to the Hall as a manager). He spent 12 seasons in Cincinnati (1916-26 and 31) and helped the Reds with their first championship. Roush won three fielding titles, won the batting title twice and led the league with 41 doubles in 1923 and 21 triples the following year.
Roush’s best season was 1920, when he hit .339 with 81 runs, 22 doubles and 16 triples, and he set career highs with 196 hits, 90 runs batted in and 36 stolen bases. He ranks second in franchise history in batting average (.331) and triples (152) and ninth in hits (1,784). Roush also had 815 runs, 260 doubles, 763 RBIs and 199 steals in 1,399 games. He had six hits, six runs and seven RBIs in the 1919 World Series victory over the White Sox. Roush returned to the Giants after controlling manager John McGraw promised not to direct any of his tirades at him, but when New York tried to cut his salary, he sat out the entire 1930 season before being sent back to the Reds for one season before he retired. Roush was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veteran’s Committee in 1962.
Honorable Mentions – Hugh Nicol did one thing well in his four seasons with the Reds (1887-90) and that was steal bases. He ranked fourth in team history with 345, and he had the top two single-season marks for the franchise. Nicol stole 138 bases in 1887, setting the franchise, American Association and Major League record and followed that up with totals of 103 and 80 the next two years. He also had 344 runs and 393 hits in 432 games despite hitting just .234.
Charles “Dusty” Miller was a solid starter for five seasons late in the 19th century (1895-99). His best season was his first, when he stole 43 bases and set career highs with a .335 average, 103 runs, 177 hits, 16 triples, 10 home runs and 112 runs batted in. The following season, he drove in 93 runs and had a career-best 76 steals. Overall, he ranked ninth in franchise history with a .308 average while amassing 421 runs, 736 hits, 402 RBIs and 198 stolen bases in 609 games.
Mike Mitchell was with the Reds for six seasons (1907-12), leading the league in triples twice and finishing second in fielding twice. He ranks seventh in franchise history with 88 triples, including 22 in 1911. Mitchell batted .283 with 401 runs, 892 hits, 420 RBIs and 165 stolen bases in 857 games.
Curt Walker spent seven seasons with Cincinnati (1924-30), winning the fielding title in 1925. The following year, he hit .306 with 83 runs, 175 hits 78 runs batted in and a career-high 20 triples. Walker batted .303 with 498 runs, 1,028 hits, 94 triples and 482 RBIs in 953 games.
Wally Post had a career year in 1955, setting personal bests with a .309 average, 116 runs, 186 hits, 33 doubles, 40 home runs and 109 runs batted in. He had 463 runs, 805 hits, 172 homers and 525 RBIs in 902 games over his 15-year Reds career (1949, 51-57 and 60-63), but he hit just .249 and led the league in strikeouts three times.
Paul O’Neill played eight seasons in Cincinnati (1985-92) and won three fielding titles. He was earned his lone All-Star selection as a member of the Reds in 19901, when he hit .256 and highs for his Cincinnati tenure with 71 runs, 136 hits, 36 doubles, 28 home runs and 91 runs batted in. “The Warrior” had 679 hits, 96 homers and 411 RBIs in 799 games. He added nine hits, three runs, three doubles, a home run and five RBIs in nine games during the 1990 playoffs.
5. Ival Goodman – He was an All-Star and won fielding titles in back-to-back seasons during his eight-year Reds career (1935-42). Goodman started his career by leading the league in triples his first two seasons. In 1938, he earned his first All-Star selection after hitting .292 with career-high totals of 103 runs, 166 hits, 30 home runs and 92 runs batted in. The following year, he batted a career-best .323 and drove in 84 runs. Goodman ranks eighth in franchise history with 79 triples, and he also has a .279 average, 554 runs, 995 hits, 91 homers and 464 RBIs in 554 games. He added 13 hits, eight runs and six RBIs in 11 playoff games as the Reds went to the World Series in 1939-40.
4. Dave Parker – He spent just four seasons with the Reds (1984-87), but he certainly made his mark. Parker was a two-time All-Star, winning the first Home Run Derby at the 1985 event in Minnesota, and he won two silver slugger awards. His best season was 1985, when he finished second in the MVP voting after posting 88 runs and 198 hits, and setting career highs with 42 doubles, 34 home runs and 125 runs batted in. “Cobra” batted .281 with 327 runs, 694 hits, 107 homers and 432 RBIs in 631 games. Parker had power with both his bat and his throwing arm, and he routinely threw out runners trying to take the extra base.
3. Pete Rose – After four years at second base and another in left field, he moved to right, earning four All-Star selections and his only two gold gloves from 1968-71. Rose finished second in the MVP voting in 1968 after leading the league with a .335 average and 210 hits. The following year, he led the N. L. with 120 runs and a .348 average (also a career high) and added 218 hits, 11 triples, 16 home runs and 82 runs batted in. “Charlie Hustle” personified his nickname during this time, winning the Hutch Award (named after former Reds manager Fred Hutchinson) for fighting spirit and competitive desire in 1968 and the Lou Gehrig Award (for character and integrity) the following year.
In the 1970 All-Star Game, Rose created a lasting image by running over Indians catcher Ray Fosse to score the winning run in the 12th inning, giving the National League a 5-4 victory. Fosse suffered a fractured and separated shoulder in the incident. During his time at the position, Rose hit .326 with 420 runs, 825 hits, 139 doubles and 227 RBIs in 624 games. He had eight hits, three runs scored, a home run and three RBIs in eight games as the Reds fell to the Orioles in the 1970 World Series.
2. Ken Griffey Sr. – He spent 12 seasons with the Reds in two stints (1973-81 and 88-90). Griffey Sr. was a three-time All-Star, was the game MVP in 1980 and won a fielding title in 1977. His best year at the plate was 1976, when he had 111 runs, 28 doubles, 74 runs batted in and set career highs with a .336 average, 189 hits and 34 stolen bases. Overall, Griffey. Sr. hit .303 with 709 runs, 1,275 hits, 212 doubles, 63 triples, 71 home runs, 466 RBIs and 156 steals in 1,224 games. The two-time champion totaled 18 hits, 11 runs, five doubles and 11 RBIs in 20 career playoff games.
Griffey spent seven seasons with the Yankees and Braves before returning to the Reds. He was released by Cincinnati during the 1990 championship season (the Reds gave him a ring anyway), so he could sign with the Mariners and play with his son, becoming the first father-son duo to play for the same team at the same time in Major League history. Griffey Sr. suffered a neck injury and retired after the 1991 season.
1. Jay Bruce – He was a powerful but strikeout-prone player during his nine seasons in Cincinnati (2008-16). Bruce was a three-time All-Star and a two-time silver slugger who had at least 30 home runs and 90 RBIs in three straight seasons. The final of those was his best, when he hit 30 homers and set career highs with 89 runs, 164 hits, 43 doubles and 109 RBIs in 1993. Bruce ranks eighth in franchise history with 233 home runs, and he also amassed 656 runs, 1,116 hits, 239 doubles and 718 RBIs in 1,220 games. The strong-armed right fielder had a few drawbacks though, namely his low average (.249) and penchant for striking out (his 1,196 rank fifth in team history). Bruce was sent to the Mets at the trade deadline in 2016, and he bounced around to five teams over his final five seasons before retiring in 2021.
A look back at the Chicago White Sox
Chicago White Sox Catchers and Managers
Chicago White Sox First and Third Basemen and Designated Hitters
Chicago White Sox Second Basemen and Shortstops
Chicago White Sox Outfielders
Chicago White Sox Pitchers
A look back at the Chicago Cubs
A look back at the Boston Red Sox
A look back at the Baltimore Orioles
Baltimore Orioles Catchers and Managers
Baltimore Orioles First and Third Basemen
Baltimore Orioles Second Basemen and Shortstops
Baltimore Orioles Outfielders and Designated Hitters
Baltimore Orioles Pitchers
A look back at the Atlanta Braves
A look back at the Arizona Diamondbacks