I'm going to try to do something new to pass the time this off-season. Every Friday I will make a new top 5 list on a different topic. We'll see where it leads or if I'll stick to it. This week's list is the Top 5 offensive seasons by a Reds pitcher.
1. Joe Nuxhall - 1953 - 55 PA .327/.377/.551
For pitchers with at least 50 plate appearances, Joe Nuxhall has the highest single-season OPS+ in Reds history at 138. To put that in perspective, Jonny Gomes was second on the Reds last year with an OPS+ of 124. Votto led the team at 152. Nuxie was a pretty good hitter in his career, and this was the first of 3 straight seasons with 3 home runs for the Old Lefthander. This was also the only season where he batted over .300 for the year in his career.
2. Bill Phillips - 1902 - 124 PA .342/.385/.404
Sure it was a different game in 1902, but pitchers still weren't necessarily very good hitters even back then. Phillips only managed one other season in his career with an OPS+ over 75, but in this one he posted an OPS+ of 134, the highest for any Reds pitcher with at least 100 PA.
3. Bucky Walters - 1939 - 131 PA .325/.357/.433
A former infielder, Bucky Walters was a doubles machine. In 968 career PA as a pitcher with the Reds, he hit 42 doubles, 3 triples, and 8 HR. In 1939, he set the single season record for extra base hits by a Reds pitcher with 10. He's also tied with himself for second on that list with 9. Oh yeah, he went 27-11 with a 2.29 ERA in 1939, leading the league in wins, ERA, complete games (31!), innings (319), strikeouts, ERA+, and WHIP. Perhaps the best overall season ever by a Reds pitcher. I guess that's why he won the NL MVP that year.
4. Carl Mays - 1927 - 33 PA .406/.406/.594
Only one pitcher in Reds history has batted over .400 with at least 30 plate appearances. Oh, and he also slugged nearly .600. Small sample size or not, that's still pretty cool.
5. Micah Owings - 2009 - 58 PA .259/.281/.537
I picked Owings because I believe that it is much harder to be an offensive pitcher in today's game than it used to be. Unfortunately, we don't have league splits for any of the previous players listed here, but pitchers batted just .138/.179/.176 last season in the NL. I would guess that the numbers were slightly higher for the other players on this list. Also, it had been over 50 years since a Reds pitcher had slugged over .500 for a season, and it's only been done 3 times in Reds history by pitchers with at least 20 PA. That's impressive enough for me.
What do you think? Is this list properly ordered? Did I miss someone that sticks out for you?