The Greatest Reds: #42 - #39

42. Curt Walker

Played as Red Primary Position Career Rank Peak Rank Prime Rank
1924-1930 RF, LF 42 50 44
Percent Breakdown of Value Best Season Best player on Reds
Hit Field Pitch 1926 1926
82% 18% 0%
Awards/Honors as a Red Leading the League On the Reds Leaderboard
N/A N/A

-6th in career triples
-10th in career on-base percentage
-26th in career RBI
-29th in career hits
-33rd in career runs scored

In Walker’s seven years as a Red, he was a consistent source of triples, hitting a total of 94, and at least ten each year. Five of those years, he finished in the NL top 10. Additionally, Walker was above average in terms of taking a walk, and his career hitting rates as a Red were 303/378/441 (113 OPS+). Ultimately, however, the Reds might have been better off keeping the player they traded for Walker (George Harper), who from 1924 through the end of his career in 1929 hit for an OPS+ of 127, albeit in about 1100 fewer plate appearances, plus being a better defender in right field.

41. Johnny Temple

Played as Red Primary Position Career Rank Peak Rank Prime Rank
1952-59, 1964 2B 43 46 35
Percent Breakdown of Value Best Season Best player on Reds
Hit Field Pitch 1959 1958
71% 29% 0%
Awards/Honors as a Red Leading the League On the Reds Leaderboard
All Star – 1956, 1957, 1959 (2) Singles – 1956
At Bats – 1956
Walks – 1957
Sacrifice Hits – 1957, 1958
Sacrifice Flies – 1959

-16th in career on-base percentage
-16th in career walks
-26th in career hits
-29th in career runs scored
-38th in career doubles

Owning all the tools except for power, but none of the tools in abundance, Temple was a good second baseman for the six years he was a full time starter there for the Reds. Perhaps his greatest skill was in his bat control, and his command of the strike zone: Temple had more than twice as many walks as strikeouts during his Reds tenure, and frequently finished on the sacrifice hit and sacrifice fly leaderboards. When he hit for just a little bit of power, like he did in 1958 and 1959 (40 and 49 extra base hits, respectively), he became a quite valuable player, with both seasons’ OPS+ at or above 110. After that strong ’59 season, he was traded cross-state to the Indians for Gordy Coleman—who went on to be the starting 1st baseman for the ’61 pennant winners—as well as Billy Martin and Cal McLish. For the remainder of his career with the Indians, Orioles, Astros and the Reds again, Temple had trouble consistently staying in the lineup.

40. Mike Mitchell

Played as Red Primary Position Career Rank Peak Rank Prime Rank
1907-1912 RF 47 33 32
Percent Breakdown of Value Best Season Best player on Reds
Hit Field Pitch 1909 1909
87% 13% 0%
Awards/Honors as a Red Leading the League On the Reds Leaderboard
N/A Triples – 1909, 1910

-7th in career triples
-17th in career stolen bases
-29th in career OPS+
-37th in career RBI
-38th in career hits

After kicking around the minors for several years, Mitchell finally clicked as a hitter during his age-26 season, for which he was rewarded with a major league contract. Over the next six seasons, Mitchell was a very good hitter (totals with the Reds: 283/345/387, 118 OPS+), and an average defensive right fielder. At his peak in 1909, Mitchell rebounded from a poor 1908 season to hit .310 (2nd in NL), with a .378 OBP (5th in NL), a .430 slugging percentage (2nd in NL), 83 runs scored (8th), 17 triples (1st), 4 home runs (6th), 86 RBI (4th), and 37 stolen bases (6th). His OPS+ of 152 was second only to Honus Wagner. He never again finished in the top ten of any of the rate categories. In December of 1912, Mitchell was involved in an eight-player trade with the Cubs that amounted to very little on either side.

39. Jose Rijo

Played as Red Primary Position Career Rank Peak Rank Prime Rank
1988-95, 2001-02 SP, RP 38 44 38
Percent Breakdown of Value Best Season Best player on Reds
Hit Field Pitch 1993 1993
0% 0% 100%
Awards/Honors as a Red Leading the League On the Reds Leaderboard
World Series MVP – 1990
All Star – 1994
W-L Percentage – 1991
WHIP – 1991
Strikeouts – 1993
Strikeouts Per Inning – 1993
Games Started – 1993, 1994

-2nd in career ERA+
-3rd in career K/BB ratio
-4th in career strikeouts
-9th in career W-L percentage
-9th in career WHIP

Having broken into the Majors at age 18 with the Yankees, Rijo had not yet enjoyed any real level of success when the Reds traded Dave Parker for him four years later. Employing him in a hybrid starter-reliever role, Rijo broke out in a big way: 13-8, with a 2.39 ERA (150 ERA+) in 162 innings. It was the first of six consecutive seasons with a sub-3.00 ERA. Despite his great pitching, and despite being on some pretty good teams, Rijo never topped fifteen wins in a season. Unless, of course, you count the 1990 postseason, in which Rijo added three wins to his 14 in the regular season. In the World Series of that year, Rijo started two games for 15.1 innings, and only allowed nine hits and one run en route to the WS MVP award. In Rijo’s apex in 1993, he posted career highs in innings (257.1), games started (36), strikeouts (227), and ERA+ (163). Two years later, elbow troubles ended his season, and kept Rijo out of the game for five years, before a up-and-down comeback with the Reds that lasted for 94 innings over two seasons.

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