The Greatest Reds: #26 - #24

26. Red Lucas

Played as Red Primary Position Career Rank Peak Rank Prime Rank
1926-1933 SP, RP 27 28 34
Percent Breakdown of Value Best Season Best player on Reds
Hit Field Pitch 1929 1929
14% 0% 86%
Awards/Honors as a Red Leading the League On the Reds Leaderboard
N/A Shutouts – 1928
WHIP – 1929
Hits Per Inning – 1929
Complete Games – 1929, 1931, 1932
Walks Per Inning – 1933

-1st in career walks per inning
-10th in career complete games
-15th in career wins
-16th in career WHIP
-39th in career ERA+

Of all the full-time pitchers on this list, no one added more value with their bat than Red Lucas, who essentially added the equivalent of a league-average hitter to the lineup every time he pitched (over 8 seasons and 1100 plate appearances with the Reds, Lucas hit 300/361/375 for a 97 OPS+). Early on in his career, the Reds occasionally played Lucas in the infield, but one wonders if there was a rather notable defensive breakdown that ceased the practice (in three appearances at shortstop in 1927, Lucas had three assists and two errors). Throughout his career, however, he was a frequent pinch-hitter. As a pitcher, Lucas was decidedly above average, although not spectacular. In his time with the Reds, his W-L record was 109-99, and he paired strong control with a decent workload en route to an ERA+ of 110. There were a couple high-quality seasons on the mound: in 1929 he went 19-12 with a 3.60 ERA (127 ERA+) over 270 innings, and in 1932, it was 13-17 with a 2.94 ERA (131 ERA+) across 269 innings. Strangely, Lucas received down-ballot MVP support four separate times, which makes me believe that his pinch-hitting was seen as an extraordinary achievement, regardless of its success.

25. Cy Seymour

Played as Red Primary Position Career Rank Peak Rank Prime Rank
1902-1906 CF 48 11 20
Percent Breakdown of Value Best Season Best player on Reds
Hit Field Pitch 1905 1904, 1905
82% 18% 0%
Awards/Honors as a Red Leading the League On the Reds Leaderboard
N/A OPS+ – 1905
OPS – 1905
Total Bases – 1905
Runs Batted In – 1905
Extra Base Hits – 1905
Slugging Percentage – 1905
Batting Average – 1905
Hits – 1905
Triples – 1905
Doubles – 1905

-1st in career batting average
-2nd in single season hits (1905)
-4th in career OPS+
-11th in career on-base percentage
-26th in career triples

This fleet-footed centerfielder was a whiz at tracking down balls in the field, and was—during his time with the Reds—one of the best hitters in baseball. Seymour was bought by the Reds in 1902 without fanfare; he was not a player of much regard, despite having been in the league since 1896. Things clicked in Cincinnati, however: Seymour put together 2.5 very good seasons (OPS+’s of 135, 134, and 134). Then, in 1905, Seymour was the best hitter on the planet: 377/429/559 (OPS+ of 181), with 219 hits, 40 doubles, 21 triples, 21 steals and 121 RBI. The 181 OPS+ was better than any player in either league. By midway through the following year, Seymour had fallen back to earth (99 OPS+), and the Reds sold him to the Giants.

24. Lonny Frey

Played as Red Primary Position Career Rank Peak Rank Prime Rank
1938-43, 1946 2B 26 25 16
Percent Breakdown of Value Best Season Best player on Reds
Hit Field Pitch 1939 1942
70% 30% 0%
Awards/Honors as a Red Leading the League On the Reds Leaderboard
All Star – 1939, 1941, 1943 Sacrifice Hits – 1939
Stolen Bases – 1940

-12th in career walks
-28th in career runs scored
-34th in career hits
-34th in career doubles
-36th in career triples

In 1938, in his first season with the Reds, Lonny Frey was not only with a new team (his third in three seasons), but was also at a new position (he had previously been a shortstop). His defense seemed to be better suited to 2nd base, but his offense remained strictly mediocre. The following year, Frey decided to hit exclusively from the left side of the plate after having been a switch-hitter his whole career. It was a good move: Frey responded with the best season he’d ever have (291/388/452 – 124 OPS+), and curiously, his defense got much better as well. Otherwise, Frey hit around league average in most seasons with better than average defense at second. Obviously, 1939 was a banner year for the rest of the club as well, heading to the World Series against the Yankees. Frey, despite his excellent regular season, ran into a doozy of a week: hitless in 17 at-bats. The following year, as the Reds again neared postseason action, Frey dropped an iron water cooler lid on his foot, and was forced to miss most of the World Series. Years later, as a member of the Yankees, Frey got to return to the World Series, but only made one plate appearance. His career post-season record was 0-for-20, with one walk. Frey served in World War II during the 1944-45 seasons, and returned to have one more typically average season in 1946 before being sold to the Cubs.

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