The Greatest Reds: #30 - #27

30. Gus Bell

Played as Red Primary Position Career Rank Peak Rank Prime Rank
1953-1961 CF, RF, LF 29 39 31
Percent Breakdown of Value Best Season Best player on Reds
Hit Field Pitch 1953 Never
82% 18% 0%
Awards/Honors as a Red Leading the League On the Reds Leaderboard
All Star – 1953, 1954, 1956, 1957 N/A

-12th in career HR
-12th in career hits
-14th in career RBI
-14th in career doubles
-20th in career runs scored

Bell was an unlikely center-fielder who was not fleet of foot (more career times caught stealing than stolen bases), and his range factor was sometimes below average by as much as half a play a game. Nonetheless, through his first four seasons as a Red, Bell was a very valuable player: he played just about every day, he hit for power (slugging percentage > .500 three of his first four years with the Reds), was a bona fide run producer (more than 100 RBI in three of those first four years), and was a flat-out doubles machine (top 6 in the NL all four years). Like so many of us, however, after Bell turned 29, things were never quite the same: he stopped playing every day, he never again reached 30 doubles, or 20 home runs, or 100 RBI, or even a 100 OPS+ mark. The tale of two halves: 120 OPS+ over 2700 PA in his first four years, 89 OPS+ over 2400 PA in the final five seasons. After the 1961 season, in which Bell hit for a paltry 642 OPS (69 OPS+), and received only three pinch-hit appearances in the World Series, Bell was selected in the expansion draft by the New York Mets.

29. Pete Donohue

Played as Red Primary Position Career Rank Peak Rank Prime Rank
1921-1930 SP 33 34 29
Percent Breakdown of Value Best Season Best player on Reds
Hit Field Pitch 1925 1925
4% 0% 96%
Awards/Honors as a Red Leading the League On the Reds Leaderboard
N/A W-L Percentage – 1922
Home Runs Per Inning – 1925
Innings Pitched – 1925, 1926
Complete Games – 1925
Games Started – 1925, 1926
Wins – 1926
Shutouts – 1926
Walks Per Inning – 1926

-6th in career walks per inning
-9th in career innings pitched
-10th in career wins
-28th in career home runs per inning
-30th in career strikeouts

An interesting pitcher counterpart to Gus Bell: through his first six seasons, Donohue had a 103-67 record with a 117 ERA+, a stretch that included three separate 20-win seasons, and a ton of leaderboard appearances. Thereafter, Donohue was a bad pitcher, 20 games under .500 in 82 decisions (most of which were with the Reds), and an ERA+ of 83. In his best season of 1925, Donohue went 21-14 with a 3.08 ERA (133 ERA+) in 301 innings (and only allowed three home runs). He also helped himself considerably with the bat, hitting nearly .300 en route to a 78 OPS+ in 121 plate appearances.

28. Ernie Lombardi

Played as Red Primary Position Career Rank Peak Rank Prime Rank
1932-1941 C 25 46 41
Percent Breakdown of Value Best Season Best player on Reds
Hit Field Pitch 1938 Never
76% 24% 0%
Awards/Honors as a Red Leading the League On the Reds Leaderboard
Inducted to Hall of Fame – 1986
Most Valuable Player – 1938
All Star – 1936, 1937, 1938, 1939, 1940
At Bat / Strikeout Ratio – 1935
Batting Average – 1938

-7th in career batting average
-15th in career RBI
-16th in career doubles
-17th in career OPS+
-18th in career home runs

Perhaps the slowest player in major league history, Lombardi still somehow managed to hit for an incredibly high average year after year. At times, Lombardi would face a defense where all four infielders were backed up into the outfield, knowing he wouldn’t be a threat for an infield hit. In lieu of having legs that work, Lombardi possessed ample power (six straight seasons with the Reds finishing in the top 10 of slugging percentage), and impressive bat control—a claim backed up by his grand total of 158 strikeouts over his 10 seasons with the Reds. In Lombardi’s MVP season of 1938, he hit .342/.391/.524 (153 OPS+) with 30 doubles, 19 home runs, and 95 RBI, to go along with his 40 walks and 14 strikeouts. The unfortunate component to his season was Lombardi’s league-leading 30 times grounding into a double play (the third time he would lead the league in that category). In addition to the MVP win, Lombardi placed in the top-20 of MVP voting three other times, and hit for a better-than-100 OPS+ in his first nine seasons with Cincinnati. In the 10th season, he only hit for a 96 OPS+, and the Reds sold him to the Braves.

27. Ival Goodman

Played as Red Primary Position Career Rank Peak Rank Prime Rank
1935-1942 RF 32 30 25
Percent Breakdown of Value Best Season Best player on Reds
Hit Field Pitch 1938 1937, 1938
85% 15% 0%
Awards/Honors as a Red Leading the League On the Reds Leaderboard
All Star – 1938, 1939 Triples – 1935, 1936
Hit By Pitch – 1936, 1938, 1939

-8th in career triples
-27th in career runs scored
-28th in career OPS+
-28th in career home runs
-29th in career RBI

Reds fans in 1937 had the following scenario to contemplate: the pitching was terrible, the hall-of-fame catcher (Lombardi) was approaching 30, and their best player—Ival Goodman—was still nothing to write home about: he had posted a 273/347/428 line en route to a 114 OPS+. Indeed, the team finished in the cellar that year for the the 5th time in the previous seven seasons. But, instead of the doomsday which appeared to be certain, the Reds put together their first winning season in a decade in 1938, then followed it up with a pennant winner. What happened? Of course there are several reasons, some of whom are yet to be discussed in this project, but one of the more stunning improvements came from Goodman, who rather suddenly became one of the best hitters in the league. The two-year stretch from 1938 to 1939 saw elevated power levels (he finished 2nd in the NL in home runs in 1938 with 30—then when the HR dropped off in 1939, he replaced them with 37 doubles) as well as an uncanny ability to get hit by a pitch, which supplemented his pedestrian walk percentages. Over the two-year period, Goodman hit 306/383/525 for an OPS+ level of 146. The team went on in their successes, Goodman did not. In his final season as a starter, Goodman’s batting average dropped 65 points, and the power mysteriously dried up as well. After a couple years as a reserve, Goodman was sold to the Cubs.

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