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The Reds Tournament of the 2000s: Round 1

Which Reds team will rule them all?

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Last week we introduced you to the Cincinnati Reds Tournament of the 2000's. Basically we have seeded every Reds team since 2000 (excluding this season) by win total. Over the course of the next nine weeks we will let the faithful readers of Red Reporter determine which team is crowned champion. As mentioned in the original post, you can vote based on any criteria. Some fans might vote for the most successful team, while others might vote for a team with a particularly memorable moment or player. It's completely up to you.

This week we will be narrowing down the top half of our field. The polls will close on Sunday, and four teams will have advanced to the final eight. You can see the entire bracket in the original post linked above.

Before we head to the match-ups allow me to offer a brief explanation regarding the following content. Several of these teams will be featured multiple times if they continue to advance. Thus, some material was omitted today to ensure there would be content down the road. I've basically attempted to give you a brief snapshot of each team, and a relevant (I'm using that word loosely) video clip. If you have a story or fact from a particular season that you think should be included in the future, drop it in the comments section.

Matchup 1: 2012 Reds (#1) vs. 2015 Reds (#16)

A sixteen seed has never beaten a one seed in the NCAA tournament, and I doubt that it will happen in this contest. The 2012 Reds were the most successful team in this bracket. Their 97 regular season wins is best in the group, and they're the only team in the tournament to have won a playoff game. Perhaps we should dub this the, "Wow..Ryan Ludwick was really good" season.

I'd spend more time breaking this team down today, but they should move on to the next round with ease. For now, why not sit back and enjoy this clip of happier times in Cincinnati?

The 2015 team lost more games than any Reds team since 1982. This season included the in-season departure of Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake. It was a rough year, but Great American Ball Park did get to host the All-Star Game so...delaying the inevitable rebuild was all worth it in the end. Right?

When I think back to the 2015 Reds there is only one face that comes to mind. Sometimes, when I close my eyes, I still see him...pitching and giving up home runs.

Matchup 2: 2002 Reds (#8) vs. 2014 Reds (#9)

Ah, the old 8/9 matchup. The 2002 Reds were led by Bob Boone, and they were the most successful club from 2001-2004 (still just 78-84). Offensively this team was led by Austin Kearns who was making his major league debut at age twenty two. Unfortunately, Kearns didn't play after August 27 because of a "strained left hamstring." Still his 134 OPS+ was tops on the team followed by Adam Dunn checking in at 121 (unless you want to count Brandon Larson's 132 OPS+ in 58 PA). The rotation was filled out by the likes of Jimmy Haynes, Elmer Dessens, Chris Reitsma, Joey Hamilton, and Ryan Dempster. There were five other pitchers who received between 5-10 starts, and Aa 37 year old Jose Rijo was a part of that group.

This was the team's final season at Cinergy Field.

I couldn't find much footage of the 2002 team on YouTube. However, here is an international broadcast of Joey Hamilton striking out Vlad Guerrero from that season! Frank Robinson and Andres Galarraga make cameo appearances.

It's unlikely that the 2014 Reds will hold a soft spot in the hearts of fans. After making the playoffs three of the previous four seasons, the team went 76-86 to finish 4th in the NL Central. It was a particularly rough year on the injury front. Joey Votto battled a quad injury all season long, and he only appeared in 62 games. Jay Bruce had knee surgery in May, returned after a few weeks, and stumbled to the worst offensive season of his career. Homer Bailey required surgery on his forearm toward the end of the season.

However, the emergence of Devin Mesoraco was a bright spot in 2014. At the time it felt like the Reds had found their catcher, and a middle of the order bat, for seasons to come! Remember that?

Matchup 3: 2000 Reds (#4) vs. 2007 Reds (#13)

The 2000 Reds marked the first season of the Ken Griffey Jr. era in Cincinnati. This team finished over .500 with an 85-77 record, but it would be the last Reds team with that distinction for a decade. The 2000 season featured one of the better Griffey performances during his time in Cincinnati. He hit .271/.387/.556 with 40 HR and 118 RBI. Sean Casey had a very productive .902 OPS, and Barry Larkin made his 11th All-Star appearance.

The four Reds pitchers who started at least twenty games were right at, or below, league average performance by ERA+. That group included Steve Paris, Rob Bell, Ron Villone, and Pete Harnisch. However, Denny Neagle did have an impressive 135 ERA+ in 18 starts, but Cincinnati dealt him to the Yankees in July.

Jerry Narron and Pete Mackanin both had turns managing the 2007 club (Narron was fired in July). This season featured Josh Hamilton's return to baseball, and his lone year as a member of the Reds. In 90 games Hamilton hit .292/.368/.554 with 19 HR and 47 RBI. That December the Reds flipped him to the Rangers. Also, 2007 will always be remembered as that one season Norris Hopper was Cincinnati's center fielder. Aaron Harang had a quality season on the mound going 16-6 with a 3.73 ERA in 231 innings.

Matchup 4: 2006 Reds (#5) vs. 2005 Reds (#12)

Our 5/12 match-up features teams from consecutive seasons.

The 2006 Reds were a team in transition. This was the fist season with Bob Castellini and Wayne Krivsky at the helm, and the team finished 80-82. Surprisingly, that was good enough to end up only 3.5 games out of first. Offensively this team was led by...Rich Aurilia? In 122 games he did have the best OPS+ of any hitter on the roster (minimum 100 games played). At age 34 Aurilia hit .300/.349/.518 with 23 HR and 70 RBI. Adam Dunn had another 40 home run season, but his rates were down across the board. This was also Griffey Jr.'s worst offensive season as a member of the Reds. At least he played in over 100 games.

Also, don't sleep on the season that David Ross had at the plate in 90 games.

Bronson Arroyo made his lone All-Star appearance in 2006. He finished the season 14-11 with a 3.29 ERA in a league leading 240.2 innings. Speaking of Bronson Arroyo in 2006...

2005 marked the end of the short lived Dan O'Brien Jr. era in Cincinnati. It featured big offensive seasons from Ken Griffey Jr. (144 OPS+), and Adam Dunn (140 OPS+). It also included a productive first few months from Joe Randa who was traded to the Padres in July. Aaron Harang and Brandon Claussen were the lone starters with above average seasons on the mound. Cincinnati's best bullpen option in 2005? Probably Kent Mercker. Oh yeah, this team also finished 27 games out of first.

While this video has little to do with the actual 2005 Reds, it's an important artifact in baseball history. 2005 featured the pinnacle of baseball video games. Hours of my life were sacrificed on the altar of MVP Baseball 2005. You probably shouldn't give the Reds credit for this when voting, but I wouldn't blame you if you did.

Who's moving on and who's heading home? It's up to you at this point. The polls will close on Sunday night.