Opening Day Countdown: Quintessential Red #45

45 days left, and today is pitchers and catchers report day. Let's roll.

5. Chris Welsh (0.3 WAR)

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention our favorite #45, the Crafty Left-Hander himself. Chris Welsh only pitched for the Reds for one year, the final year of his career in 1986. He had 24 starts for those Reds, with a 4.78 ERA with a 2.6 K/9. Crafty, indeed.

4. Manny Sarmiento (0.9 WAR)

World Series ring alert. Sarmiento came up in 1976 as a 20-year-old reliever, and put up a 2.06 ERA in 22 appearances in his rookie year. He was just as good the next year, but came back down to Earth in his two full-time seasons with the Reds. He signed with the Mariners before the 1980 season, and had a stint with Pittsburgh where he ended his big league career.

3. Wayne Simpson (1.0 WAR)

Simpson made a big splash onto the scene in 1970, when he came up and made the All-Star team as a 21-year-old rookie. He went 14-3 with a 3.02 ERA that year, which only got him 4th in the Rookie of the Year voting. (Trivia: who finished above him?) He was never able to replicate that year, and fizzled out just as suddenly as he had emerged.

2. Jeff Brantley (6.7 WAR)

The Cowboy pitched for the Reds for 4 seasons, and was the team's closer from 1994 to 1997. His best season was his '96 campaign, where he saved 44 games with a 2.41 ERA and a 9.6 K/9. He won the Rolaids relief award that year, and went on to be in front of microphones on ESPN, local radio and TV, and ribs commercials.

1. Elmer Dessens (10.1 WAR)

Do people realize how good Elmer Dessens was in his 3 years in Cincinnati? He was a rock, entering the rotation halfway through the 2000 season, winning 11 games in the process. His best year here was 2002, where he 3.03 ERA in 30 starts. Just plain solid, and I think undisputedly was the best Reds pitcher in the first half of the 2000s.

Elmer Dessens. The most successful, but quintessential? Say so in the comments.

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