The Reds have never had a batting Triple Crown winner, but Cy Seymour came about as close as possible for the Reds in 1905.
In a time where few ballparks had fences, and many home runs were hit into crowds of spectators as outfielders hunted for the batted balls, Cy Seymour had one of the greatest Reds seasons of all time.
Seymour made the majors as a strikeout pitcher for the New York Giants in 1896, going 2-4 with a 6.40 ERA, walking 51 in 70 innings. In 1897, he improved to 18-14 with a 3.34 ERA, but he led the league in walks with 164 in 277+ innings, striking out 149. He led the National League in strikeouts in 1898 with 239 IN 356 innings, but he also led with 213 walks, going 25-19 with a 3.18 ERA. Seymour could also hit and appeared in 35 games in the outfield in 1898. In 1901 he jumped leagues to the newly founded American League and signed with the Baltimore Orioles (now the New York Yankees), where he played until the Orioles released him in 1902. The Reds signed him and his career took off.
He finished 1902 batting .340 for the Reds, then followed that with .342 in 1903 and a .313 average in 1904.. Then, in 1905, he proceeded to collect 219 hits, batting .377 with 8 homers, 121 rbi, 40 doubles and 21 triples. He was phenomenal at the plate, leading the league with all the categories mentioned but one. This was the only year he led in any major offensive category.
The home run leader for 1905 was Seymour’s teammate, Fred Odwell. Odwell led the league with nine homers, one more than Seymour. Odwell’s ninth homer came on his last at bat of the season and it was the last home run of his career. Oddly enough for Odwell is that he only had one other home run his entire career, which came in his 1904 rookie year. He didn’t reach the majors until past his 30th birthday during the 1904 season. He played two more years for the Reds through 1907.
However, it didn’t last. Seymour slumped the next season, and the Reds sold him at midseason to his former team, the perennially contending New York Giants. Seymour was hitting .257 at halfway through the season for the Reds, but rebounded to hit .320 the rest of the way for the Giants. He played four more seasons.
The 1905 Reds finished 79-74 concluding a string of four consecutive .500+ seasons. The 1905 Reds were an old team, with five of their eight regulars being past the age of 30. Beginning in 1906 and lasting through 1916, the Reds finished below .500 for 10 of those 11 years, one of the longest strings of futility in Reds history. By 1919 the Reds won the World Series.
As for Seymour’s career, he was a poor fielding centerfielder (with a cannon for an arm). Seymour commited 36 errors in the outfield for the Reds in 1903. He played an extremely shallow center field and in the 1908 playoff for the championship (the Giants and Cubs had tied with a 98-55 record), Seymour let a routine flyball sail over his head allowing the winning runs to score for the Cubs.
Seymour ended his career with a .303 batting average and an OPS+ of 119. His OPS+ in his big season was 181. Seymour holds Reds records for the highest single season batting average (.377) and highest career batting average (.332).