The Greatest Reds: #55 - #51

55. Reggie Sanders

Played as Red Primary Position Career Rank Peak Rank Prime Rank
1991-1998 RF, CF 51 57 58
Percent Breakdown of Value Best Season Best player on Reds
Hit Field Pitch 1995 Never
83% 17% 0%
Awards/Honors as a Red Leading the League On the Reds Leaderboard
All Star – 1995 N/A

-11th in career slugging percentage
-17th in career home runs
-19th in career stolen bases
-32nd in career runs scored
-34th in career RBI

An unmistakable talent hindered by injuries, and one unfortunate month. Reggie Sanders was drafted by the Reds in 1987, made his debut in 1991, and put together a strong rookie season in 1992—finishing 4th in Rookie of the Year voting with a 128 OPS+ as a centerfielder. Sanders never really had a bad year with the Reds, but he also never played more than 138 games—and in both 1996 and 1997 he missed nearly half of each season. 1995 was Sanders’s career year: for the only time in his career Sanders finished in the top ten in runs (91, in a strike-shortened year), RBI (99), Home Runs (28), Doubles (36), Walks (69), and OPS+ (154). In the playoffs, however, he struck out an incredible 19 times in just seven games. Before the 1999 season, Sanders was traded for—in essence—Greg Vaughn, a much-lauded deal, despite Sanders’s seemingly better play that year.

54. Roy McMillan

Played as Red Primary Position Career Rank Peak Rank Prime Rank
1951-1960 SS 39 85 66
Percent Breakdown of Value Best Season Best player on Reds
Hit Field Pitch 1956 Never
40% 60% 0%
Awards/Honors as a Red Leading the League On the Reds Leaderboard
Gold Glove – 1957, 1958, 1959
All Star – 1956, 1957
Sacrifice Hits – 1954

-18th in career walks
-25th in career hits
-27th in career doubles
-34th in career runs scored
-44th in career RBI

The Gold Glove award was introduced in 1957, and was not split by league. One award was given for shortstops, and McMillan—then an established 27-year-old—won it. The next year, the awards were bifurcated into NL and AL, and McMillan won a couple more. Indeed, his fielding must have been legendary: five separate times in his career McMillan received MVP-ballot support, despite his lifetime OPS+ of 72. In his best year of 1956, his hitting was OK for a shortstop: 263/366/344 (OPS+ of 89), but according to range factor, he made roughly 3 extra plays out of every 4 games as compared to the average SS, all while putting up a fielding percentage 14 points higher than league average. After ten full years with the Reds, McMillan was traded to the Braves for pitcher Joey Jay, who twice won 20 games as a Red.

53. Johnny Vander Meer

Played as Red Primary Position Career Rank Peak Rank Prime Rank
1937-43, 1946-49 SP, RP 36 57 93
Percent Breakdown of Value Best Season Best player on Reds
Hit Field Pitch 1942 1948
1% 0% 99%
Awards/Honors as a Red Leading the League On the Reds Leaderboard
TSN Player of Year – 1938
All Star – 1938, 1939, 1942, 1943
Hits Per Inning – 1938, 1941
Strikeouts – 1941, 1942, 1943
Strikeouts Per Inning – 1941, 1942, 1943
Games Started – 1943

-3rd in career shutouts
-4th in career strikeouts
-5th in career hits per inning
-7th in career innings pitched
-13th in career wins

Vander Meer’s career can be neatly split into four eras: Era 1 (1937-1938) belonged to a wild and unpredictable pitcher—including two magical nights in June of 1938 in which no batter managed a hit off him. Era 2 (1939-1940) belonged to a part-time and ineffective pitcher who contributed little to a pair of pennant winners. Era 3 (1941-1943) belonged to a dominant pitcher with the best stuff in the game. In the war-depleted National League, Vander Meer twice posted the 4th best ERA+, and routinely led in strikeouts, while finishing high in both innings and wins. Era 4 (1946-1949) came after a two-year service to the country’s war efforts. In this era, Vander Meer was a steady and average arm on a bad team—getting credit as the best player on the 64-89 1948 team, despite an unremarkable ERA+ of 115.

52. Bob Bescher

Played as Red Primary Position Career Rank Peak Rank Prime Rank
1908-1913 LF 56 57 38
Percent Breakdown of Value Best Season Best player on Reds
Hit Field Pitch 1912 1912, 1913
85% 15% 0%
Awards/Honors as a Red Leading the League On the Reds Leaderboard
N/A Stolen Bases – 1909, 1910, 1911, 1912
Plate Appearances – 1911
Runs Scored – 1912
Walks – 1913

-7th in career stolen bases
-21st in career on-base percentage
-21st in career walks
-26th in career triples
-35th in career runs scored

Not particularly great with the bat and decidedly weak glove in Left Field, Bescher was nonetheless a very strong player for two simple reasons: he knew how to take a walk (4 straight times finishing in the top-6 in the NL from 1910-13), and when he got on base, there was none better at taking an extra one (4 straight times leading the league). His 81 steals in 1911 stood as a post-1900 single-season NL mark that lasted until Maury Wills stole 104 bases in 1962. Also of note with Bescher was his remarkable consistency: his year-by-year OPS+ marks during his full-time play as a Red were: 102, 103, 114, 115, and 108.

51. Jake Daubert

Played as Red Primary Position Career Rank Peak Rank Prime Rank
1919-1924 1B 60 41 41
Percent Breakdown of Value Best Season Best player on Reds
Hit Field Pitch 1920 1922
87% 13% 0%
Awards/Honors as a Red Leading the League On the Reds Leaderboard
N/A Sacrifice Hits – 1919
Triples – 1922

-2nd in career sacrifice hits
-9th in career triples
-20th in career batting average
-33rd in career hits
-36th in career runs scored

Unquestionably one of the best players in the NL in the early part of his career with Brooklyn, Daubert was acquired by the Reds prior to the 1919 season—allowing the team to get rid of first baseman Hal Chase, who had been accused of throwing a game the year before. Daubert filled the role admirably, leading the league in sacrifice hits and supplying a league average bat to the World Champion team. As his career dwindled, Daubert had two more vintage seasons (127 OPS+ in 1920, 129 OPS+ in 1922) interspersed with the typical fading of a long career. In 1924, at age 40, Daubert became very ill, returned to the team for the final home game of the year, then had an appendectomy. He died a week later due to complications from the surgery.

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