Frank3Bstein: Assembling the perfect Reds 3B

Heinie Groh, a big part of what makes the Reds' 3Bs go - picture courtesy of the finest muffins, you idiots

All I want for Christmas is Heinie.

Third base, although totally radical in love, hasn't been so hot for the Reds throughout their history. There have been some big names and some fonky characters, but there really hasn't been a franchise-defining player at the position like a Bench or a Larkin. Third base for the Reds isn't all that different from third base for pretty much all of baseball. It is a tweener position, staffed by guys who can't field like shortstops or hit like first basemen. So this should be pretty fun.

Contact:

Well, as we all assumed when we decided to put this thing together, Pete Rose is all over the damn place. He famously moved from left field to third base in the '75 season and stuck at the hot corner until his departure to Philadelphia after the '78 season. In those four or so seasons he played 3B for the Reds, he hit a a robust .314. So he gets a stack of chips on the contact square (gambling joke!).

Ray Knight hit .318 for the Reds at 3B the year after Pete left, finishing fifth in MVP voting. No, Pete. Smell you later! He never really hit like that again, though. Heinie Groh was the hammer for the '19 World Series winners, as he hit .310 and led the league in OPS. He hit .298 for his career as a Red, so he gets the silver medal.

Power:

If this section were to start a big jazzy brass ensemble kinda band, they'd call themselves "Tony Perez and the other guys." Big Dog could mash like few others. His glove was really bad though, so he didn't stick at 3B for all that long. He played there for the better part of four seasons though, slugging .508 from '67-'70. He averaged 30 home runs a season over that stretch, so he pretty clearly wins this.

Aaron Boone hit for a decent amount of power while in Cincinnati, slugging .450 in parts of seven seasons. He played around the turn of the millennium though, and every jerk and his brother could hit for decent power back then. So his numbers don't really impress me. Chris Sabo's .447 SLG as a Red is kind of impressive, as he did it in a different hitting environment. He averaged 17 homers per season as a Red, which really ain't that bad. It's also about as good as it gets outside Doggie though, so take what you can.

Discipline:

This is much more interesting than the power debate. Which, well, basically means there is actually a debate to be had. Pete Rose always walked more than he struck out, but bleh. Let's talk about someone else. Billy Werber did some great work for the Reds, earning MVP votes all three of his seasons in Cincy. He played 3B for the '40 Champs, which is cool. He walked a healthy 11.5% of the time while striking out only 6% of the time. If my math is correct, that's like almost twice as many walks as strikeouts. That's the kind of thing that will earn you some dap in a stupid timekiller exercise like this.

Buddy Bell is in the running here too, as he walked 11.6% of the time and struck out only 7.4% of the time. Both he and Werber played about 400 games at 3B for the Reds, but I think Werber's numbers are just a bit better. Old timer Heinie Groh is back, as his discipline numbers are pretty awesome, too. He walked twice as much as he struck out for his career with the Reds, which was three times longer than the other pukes. So this one goes to Groh.

Speed:

Third basemen don't traditionally run well, do they? My stereotype suggests that if a 3B could run well, he'd be playing SS or 2B. 'Course, somebody has to win this thing. in 1988, Chris Sabo stole 46 bases, the Rookie of the Year, and the hearts of literally hundreds of girls with nice personalities. But he only stole 20+ bases one other time in his career, and he was not efficient at all. Next.

Hans Lobert put up some impressive numbers 100 years ago, but I can't really say I know what baseball was 100 years ago so I can't really say whether or not I should be impressed. Either way, he averaged 34 steals a year in his five-year career in Red. He was then traded with Dode Paskert and some others to his hometown of Philadelphia in exchange for some other guys. I only mention this because I'm afraid if I don't mention Dode Paskert's name every time I come across it, his ghost will peek in at me through my windows when I'm sleeping. No thanks. I'd rather just mention his name, even if it gives me the willikers to say it.

However, this category is a runaway for Arlie Latham, The Freshest Man on Earth. You need to go back to school, Will Smiff! Dude was so fresh as heck, he stole 340 bases in six seasons for the Reds of the early 1890s. He also hit 34 triples in that time, so I think he was probably fast enough to earn the win in this category.

Arm:

Gosh, I dunno. Scott Rolen? Old man was automatic. This category is really difficult to judge, so I'll give it to Rolen because that's why.

Glove:

Babe Pinelli was the all-glove, no-bat starting 3B for the Reds from '22-'25. According to FanGraphs, he leads the Reds all time for defensive value. He couldn't really hit like at all though, so I feel like giving this one to Heinie. I know that's like the kind of jerk thing that Gold Glove voters used to do, but whatevs. He led the league in fielding percentage five times, so it's not like dumb or something. Heinie was a boss and I really wanna see him repping this thing hard.

Durability:

Heinie is second all time in games played at 3B with 883. He is followed on the list by Sabo and Perez who are both about 100 games behind. Sabo was certainly not durable, as he missed significant chunks of two seasons. Perez was, as he averaged about 158 games per during his time at 3B. I kinda want to count "sticking at the position" here in the durability category though, so out the door you go, Doggie.

The leader in games played all time at 3B for the Reds is Hick Carpenter, who sounds like a character in a skit from Hee Haw. He was a Red spanning the Arthur and (first) Cleveland administrations and basically the first 3B this Cincinnati Reds franchise ever had. So it's pretty cool that the first was also the most durable. He played only seven more games than did Groh, but he did it in one fewer season. So this one goes to Hick.

Intangibles:

It's tough to quantify this one [APPLAUSE]. Todd Frazier hit a home run with no hands and saved a man from choking to death. Scott Rolen was de facto captain and title character on Scott Rolen's Reds. Chris Sabo wore goggles and did weird stuff like this. Tony Perez was the heart and soul of the Big Red Machine, but he won this bit for the first basemen so I'm going to disqualify him here. Pete Rose is the dude this whole category is named after, I mean, pretty much, or at least it should be, but again, he won for somewhere else I forget where. So forget him. I'm gonna give it to Sabo, but I'll add that Todd Frazier is looking strong as heck.

TIGRmetrics:

Heinie was a handsome fella, and when they make the movie about the team that actually won and not the Black Sox, Jeremy Renner will play Groh. But he's a butt shovel, so move along, Heinie. Billy Werber had the square jaw and dreamy eyes of a Hollywood motion picture star. This. Eddie Kasko had a face that could stop traffic. But I'mma go with Ray Jablonski here, because sometimes a lady likes a man who looks like he would happily eat whatever she left on her plate.

Just kidding. Werber was a dreamboat.

Final:

So Red Reporter's fantastical perfect third baseman has Pete Rose's bat, Tony Perez's power, Heinie Groh's plate discipline and glovework, Arlie Latham's wheels, Scott Rolen's arm, Hick Carpenter's durability, Chris Sabo's whatever you wanna call whatever it is he has, and Billy Werber's aromatic sex appeal.

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