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The Grueling Truth - Where Legends Speak / Top 10 Second Baseman in Cincinnati Reds History

Top 10 Second Baseman in Cincinnati Reds History

Publish Date: 06/20/2023
Fact checked by: Simon Briffa

Greatest second basemen

Number one is easily Joe Morgan, who may have been the greatest second baseman to ever play the game. The rest of this list is much harder to compile.

10) Tommy Helms

Rookie of the Year in 1966. Made two All-Star teams and won two Gold Gloves.

9) Mariano Duncan

Duncan was a key component of the 1990 World Series champion Reds team and deserves more credit than many give him. He ranks in the top six among Reds’ second basemen for BA (.279), SLG (.436), OPS+ (104) and wRC+ (105).

8) Ron Oester

Oester stands third all-time among Reds second basemen for games played, fourth for doubles (190), fifth in HR (42) and RBI (344) as well as seventh in walks (369). However, my most vivid memory of Oester is seeing his name appear on a “Reds Leaders” Topps baseball card from when I was a child as evidence of leading their miserable 1983 campaign with a.264 average. Oester was on the 1990 team as a backup and helped the Reds win the 1990 World Series.

7) Miller Huggins

Huggins made his Reds debut as a 26 year-old in 1904 and proved extremely productive, hitting.260/.362/.310 over those six seasons despite playing during Dead Ball era

6) Hughie Critz

Critz debuted with the Reds at 23 years old in 1924 and made his mark immediately, notching two hits against future Hall-of-Famer Grover Cleveland Alexander before posting three WAR in his rookie campaign, hitting.323/.352/.448 en route to two top-four MVP voting finishes during his career.

In 1926, 25-year-old Critz narrowly lost out in MVP voting to St. Louis catcher Bob O’Farrell after hitting.270/.316/.371, playing stellar defense, and posting 3.7 WAR as the Reds finished second in the National League. Two years later, he finished fourth (St. Louis’ Sunny Jim Bottomley won), hitting. 296/335/387 for St. Louis.

5) Johnny Temple

Temple was an immensely beloved figure during his nine seasons with Cincinnati, earning three All-Star selections and posting an astounding batting line of.291/.372/.361. This figure is the second highest batting average and the third-best on-base percentage ever for a second baseman at Cincinnati; his wOBA of.338 ranks fifth-best in Reds history, while 15.2 base wins over replacement players put him sixth overall regarding impactful statistics.

Temple was honored to being one of seven Reds voted into the starting lineup of the 1957 All-Star Game by ballot-stuffing fans of the Cincinnati Reds baseball team. Two seasons later, in his final year with Cincinnati, Temple performed his best: hitting.311/.380/.430 with 35 doubles.

4) Lonny Frey

Bill McKechnie quickly converted Frey from shortstop to second base upon arriving in Cincinnati, and so began an incredible success story that has since endured for generations.

Frey established himself with the Reds with an outstanding first season and went on an impressive five-year run, becoming one of the greatest second basemen ever seen by the Reds. Between 1939 and 1943, he earned five consecutive positive seasons in terms of bWAR totals: 5.9, 5.9, 3.6, 5.2, and 4.5, making three National League All-Star teams while leading them to two pennants and their first World Series championship since 1919 – three seasons ranking amongst the ten individual single seasons ever posted by any 2B player ever.

Frey was a tremendous defensive second baseman. Although widely acknowledged at the time as one of the league’s premier defensive second sackers, our available metrics seem to bear this out: Frey ranks second only to Bid McPhee in career Defensive Runs Saved statistics while outpacing Brandon Phillips despite playing four fewer seasons for Cincinnati; Frey posted 13.4 career Defensive WAR for Reds as opposed to Phillips’ 8.5% contribution.

3) Brandon Phillips

Phillips had an extraordinary 11+ year career. His hitting stats stand out among all Reds 2Bs:.279/.325/.429; three All-Star selections; four Gold Glove wins. In addition, Phillips regularly made highlight reels due to his astonishing fielding exploits and was an integral component of nightly highlight reels with miraculous fielding exploits and hitting power that made headlines daily – his slugging percentage being fourth among Reds 2Bs while ranking seventh all-time in OPS+ and wRC+; ultimately ranking third all-time overall and third among Reds 2Bs overall in terms of counting stats and total wins for total.

Video: Brandon Phillips slugs a walk-off homer against St. Louis

Brandon Phillips slugs a walk-off homer against St. Louis

2) Bid McPhee

McPhee found himself at home in Cincinnati and lived up to his billing as one of the greatest second basemen ever seen in baseball. Over his 18-year tenure in Cincinnati, McPhee amassed 52.4 bWAR (62.7 fWAR), hitting.272/.355/.373 while appearing in 2,138 games for Cincinnati while leading in walks (982), stolen bases (568), triples (189; nearly three times more than the second-highest total), defensive runs above average (193.1).

McPhee was known for his hitting ability and defensive prowess, which is particularly interesting given that he often played without a glove.

Video: History lesson: The story of hall-of-famer John

History lesson: The story of hall-of-famer John “Bid” McPhee

1) Joe Morgan

Morgan stands out in almost every offensive category as one of the three all-time Reds second basemen (except games played, where he ranks fourth ). No Reds second baseman has ever posted a higher on-base percentage, slugging percentage, wRC+, wOBA or OPS+ than Morgan; in most of those categories, no other 2B in Reds history can even approach his incredible numbers. Morgan was a catalyst for the great Reds Teams of the 70s and won back to back MVP awards in 1975,76.

Video: Joe Morgan tribute

Joe Morgan tribute

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