The Greatest Reds: #38 - #35

38. Miller Huggins

Played as Red Primary Position Career Rank Peak Rank Prime Rank
1904-1909 2B 50 34 26
Percent Breakdown of Value Best Season Best player on Reds
Hit Field Pitch 1905 Never
75% 25% 0%
Awards/Honors as a Red Leading the League On the Reds Leaderboard
Inducted to Hall of Fame – 1964 Walks – 1905, 1907
Singles – 1906

-11th in career sacrifice hits
-20th in career walks
-25th in career stolen bases
-26th in career on-base percentage
-44th in career runs scored

Bill James once fashioned a way of calculating a player’s most similar players, statistically, and he posited that if a player’s most similar player had a relatively low similarity score, it was evidence of that player’s excellence. In Miller Huggins’s case, he shared a rather low score with his most similar player (Don Blasingame), but in his case, it was due to the unique nature of the 5’6" player’s game. Consider: over Huggins’s 13-year career, his on-base percentage was 68 points higher than his slugging percentage. He routinely topped 600 plate appearances in a season, but never even reached 20 doubles in any one year, despite his good speed (324 career steals). He scored nearly three times as many runs as he drove in. Roughly half of his playing career was with the Reds, accumulating a batting line of 260/362/310 (104 OPS+), before being traded to the Cardinals for a pair of players who never did much to help the good guys.

37. Sean Casey

Played as Red Primary Position Career Rank Peak Rank Prime Rank
1998-2005 1B 33 34 49
Percent Breakdown of Value Best Season Best player on Reds
Hit Field Pitch 2004 2001
91% 9% 0%
Awards/Honors as a Red Leading the League On the Reds Leaderboard
Hutch Award – 1999
All Star – 1999, 2001, 2004
N/A

-11th in career doubles
-12th in career batting average
-13th in career OPS
-19th in career home runs
-22nd in career RBI

Acquired in a strange deal where the Reds gave up the presumed Opening Day starter (Dave Burba) during the final week of Spring Training, Casey went on to become both a fan favorite and a source of fan disappointment. At his best, Casey was a sweet-swinging hitter, capable of .300+ batting averages, 40+ doubles, and 20+ homers. In his worst moments, his flaws became more evident: a poor fielder, a remarkably slow runner, and a swing that—when off—seemed auto-tuned to hit ground balls to the 2nd baseman. The statistical record is equally polar: Casey had three seasons where he had a batting average over .300, and a slugging percentage over .500. He also had three seasons where the average fell below the .300 mark and his slugging percentage was below .420. Overall, this accounted to a rather middling stat line with the Reds for a modern day first baseman (305/371/463; 114 OPS+), and his peaks, while strong (three times over a 900 OPS), weren’t good enough to carry a team. Casey was the best Red one time: in 2001, he finished first on a dismal offense in RBI (89) and runs (69).

36. Jake Beckley

Played as Red Primary Position Career Rank Peak Rank Prime Rank
1897-1903 1B 37 50 32
Percent Breakdown of Value Best Season Best player on Reds
Hit Field Pitch 1900 Never
88% 12% 0%
Awards/Honors as a Red Leading the League On the Reds Leaderboard
Inducted to Hall of Fame – 1971 N/A

-3rd in career batting average
-10th in career triples
-12th in career OPS+
-24th in career runs scored
-24th in career RBI

When Beckley retired in 1907, he held records for most games played at first base, as well as most putouts recorded at first. The games played record has since been eclipsed by Eddie Murray, but the putouts mark remains. 7 of Beckley’s 20 seasons were spent in Cincinnati, where he signed partway through the 1897 season as a free agent after the Giants released him, thinking his skills had fully receded. Instead, he got even better (his OPS+ with the Reds was 128 as compared to his career mark of 125), routinely hitting over .300 and finishing in the NL top 10 in RBI, doubles, and triples. Over the course of Beckley’s career, several idiosyncrasies appeared: he was known to flip his bat around and bunt with the handle; he once hit three home runs in a game—in a season where he had a total of eight; he was known for pulling the hidden ball trick; he was occasionally witnessed cutting across the diamond to score from 2nd base; and he once—early in his career while still with the Pittsburgh National League team—jumped to the upstart Players League in a bid to make more money. His quality hitting skill remained even and constant throughout his career, however: the Reds sold Beckley to the Cardinals after the 1903 season because manager Joe Kelley wanted to play first base instead. Beckley responded with a 144 OPS+ in 1904.

35. Bug Holliday

Played as Red Primary Position Career Rank Peak Rank Prime Rank
1890-1898 CF, LF 41 40 26
Percent Breakdown of Value Best Season Best player on Reds
Hit Field Pitch 1892 Never
81% 19% 0%
Awards/Honors as a Red Leading the League On the Reds Leaderboard
N/A Home Runs – 1892
At Bat / Home Run Ratio – 1892

-8th in career batting average
-9th in career stolen bases
-13th in career runs scored
-14th in career triples
-18th in career RBI

Holliday made his career debut, at age 18, for the Chicago White Stockings in that era’s version of the World Series. They needed a fill-in outfielder one day, and he got the call. Four years later (1889), he re-debuted as a member of the Red Stockings in their final year in the American Association. As a 22 year old, he led the league in home runs. Upon the team’s switch to the National League, he hit a home run on Opening Day, and was over the next five seasons one of the league’s pre-eminent power hitters, despite the dead ball of the times. In fact, through age 27, Holliday had a career NL OPS+ of 127, and in his best two seasons had OPS+ marks above 140. In 1892, Holliday had top-ten finishes in hits, runs, triples, and RBI, in addition to his league-leading home run total of 13. Two years later, in a higher offensive environment, Holliday hit .372, knocked in 119 runs, and topped a 940 OPS (123 OPS+). So what kept him from being one of the true deadball-era greats? An appendectomy in 1895 apparently removed the greater part of his talent as well. From 1895 through the end of Holliday’s career in 1898, he was a part-time player, only appearing in 152 games, with just 2 home runs and a sub-par (for him) OPS+ level of 96.

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