The Greatest Reds: #34 - #31

34. Billy Rhines

Played as Red Primary Position Career Rank Peak Rank Prime Rank
1890-92, 1895-97 SP 33 9 86
Percent Breakdown of Value Best Season Best player on Reds
Hit Field Pitch 1890 1890
0% 0% 100%
Awards/Honors as a Red Leading the League On the Reds Leaderboard
N/A ERA+ – 1890, 1896
ERA – 1890, 1986
WHIP – 1890, 1896
Hits Per Inning – 1896

-9th in career ERA+
-11th in career complete games
-19th in career wins
-34th in career strikeouts
-39th in career walks per inning

Billy Rhines, a household name in all but the most rustic of homes, has the 9th best peak in Reds history, but just the 86th best prime score. How is this possible? In 1890, as a 21 year-old rookie playing in the inaugural NL season in Cincinnati put together a season which has not been topped since: Rhines had a 28-17 record with a 1.95 ERA (leading the league), which was good for a 184 ERA+ (also led the league) over 401.1 innings (6th best in the NL). He started 45 games, and finished them all. As great as that season was, it did not portend a great future: over the remainder of his career, most of which was with the Reds, he was strictly an average pitcher, with a .500 W-L record and a 105 ERA+. He did, however, manage a blast-from-the-past type season in 1896, recording a 2.45 ERA (188 ERA+), albeit in just 143 innings.

33. Jim Maloney

Played as Red Primary Position Career Rank Peak Rank Prime Rank
1960-1970 SP, RP 30 42 35
Percent Breakdown of Value Best Season Best player on Reds
Hit Field Pitch 1965 Never
3% 0% 97%
Awards/Honors as a Red Leading the League On the Reds Leaderboard
All Star – 1965 Strikeouts Per Inning – 1963
Shutouts – 1966

-1st in career strikeouts
-2nd in career hits per inning
-7th in career wins
-9th in career games started
-20th in career ERA+

From 1963 through 1969, Jim Maloney had a 117-60 record, and a stifling 2.90 ERA, which was good for a 125 ERA+. Over that period, he won 20 games twice, and finished in the top 10 in wins five times. His ERA+ ranked in the top 10 four times over that period, and his strikeout totals ranked in the top 10 five times—due in large part to his 99 mph fastball. So why doesn’t Maloney’s name roll off the tongue like the other pitching elites of the era? While he clearly wasn’t as good as a Gibson or a Koufax, Maloney also had a few cards stacked against him: his pitched in a stadium which inflated offense, sometimes as close to 15% higher than Dodger Stadium; he didn’t play for a team playing on the big stage; and he had the incredible misfortune to have the worst season of his career during the Year of the Pitcher, 1968. While some pitchers were decimating the 2.00 ERA threshold, Maloney struggled to a 3.61 ERA (88 ERA+). Nonetheless, in 11 seasons with the Reds, Maloney won 53 more games than he lost, while compiling a 117 ERA+. Maloney’s career ended abruptly, with all but 47 of his 1849 innings coming before his age-30 season.

32. Bob Ewing

Played as Red Primary Position Career Rank Peak Rank Prime Rank
1902-1909 SP 30 44 30
Percent Breakdown of Value Best Season Best player on Reds
Hit Field Pitch 1905 1907
3% 0% 97%
Awards/Honors as a Red Leading the League On the Reds Leaderboard
N/A N/A

-5th in career WHIP
-8th in career innings pitched
-14th in career ERA+
-14th in career strikeouts
-16th in career wins

Long Bob Ewing, standing at 6’6", became a Red after he pitched well against them during an exhibition between the Reds and a local semi-pro team. He made his major league debut the following year at the age of 29, and not once in his eight seasons with the Reds did he post an ERA+ below 100. Ewing had three very good seasons in which he posted top-ten ERA+ seasons, using his spitball to full effect, winning 20 games in 1905, and pitching to a sub-2.00 ERA in 1907. Despite his career ERA+ of 121 with the Reds, Ewing only had five more victories than losses. From 1903 through 1908, Ewing finished in the NL top ten in strikeout/walk ratio.

31. Dan Driessen

Played as Red Primary Position Career Rank Peak Rank Prime Rank
1973-1984 1B, 3B 22 72 58
Percent Breakdown of Value Best Season Best player on Reds
Hit Field Pitch 1980 Never
88% 12% 0%
Awards/Honors as a Red Leading the League On the Reds Leaderboard
N/A Walks – 1980
Hit By Pitch – 1980

-9th in career walks
-13th in career doubles
-15th in career hits
-16th in career HR
-16th in career RBI

I remember as a kid having a baseball card which referenced Driessen as the Reds’ RBI leader from the prior season (1982). So what if he did so with only 57 RBI that year, right? Known as the guy who made Tony Perez expendable, Driessen was steady, but never excellent: every season with the Reds saw Driessen hit to an OPS+ between 102 and 125 en route to a cumulative total of 115. He didn’t hit for a particularly high average (.271 in 12 years as a Red), and was limited, power-wise: he never hit more than 18 dingers. He was good, however, at taking a walk (his on-base percentage with the Reds was 90 points higher than his batting average), and was known as an excellent fielder, leading first basemen in fielding percentage three separate times.

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