I know I will be thoroughly attacked for being a pessimist, but I have to write what I believe to be true: it’s going to be close, I don’t believe the Reds will win the World Series in 2015.

With that out of the way, let’s take a look at some of the best collections of Redlegs that have every played in the Queen City. The Reds have hoisted the Commissioner’s Trophy three times in baseball’s modern era (1975, 1976, 1990). These groups provide marking posts for the two most successful eras in the Reds history: “The Big Red Machine” (1975, 1976) and the “Nasty Boys” (1990). The maddening middle ground of the 2010-2015 Reds might go by a less prestigious era moniker: just good enough to make the playoffs but never successful enough to win a championship (perhaps a “Marquis” era?).

Would one of the Reds from years’ past be able to rescue our team from mediocrity? Let’s play a game: let’s take one player from the 1975 and 1976 World Champion teams and put them on the current roster. Who would you select?

Three rules:

  1. You can only take a player once (You can’t start Pete Rose in both left and third).
  2. No position swapping.
  3. You can only selection position players (aka “the Sparky Anderson rule”).

I thought I would provide a short summary for a few of these choices.

1975: The Rise of the Machine

Joe Morgan .327/.466/.508 (169 OPS+). Largely because of his offensive prowess, Joe Morgan would end up winning his first of back-to-back NL MVP awards in 1975. His .466 on base percentage is not a typo and helped him create 10.9 (also not a typo) wins above replacement for the Reds.

George Foster (.300/.356/.518; 139 OPS+). The Reds primary left fielder could also man all three outfield positions and cover first base in a pinch (that is, unless you think we have Jack for that). All in all, Foster was able to create 4.8 wins for the Reds in 1975.

Johnny Bench (.283/.359/.519; 140 OPS+). Perhaps you decide to replace an injured Mesoraco with this guy named Bench. He was a pretty good catcher, putting up 6.6 wins above replacement and played 140 games. His 1975 campaign was not as impressive as his 1974 campaign (7.8 WAR) largely due to a reduction in playing time.

1976: The Machine, Part II

Cesar Geronimo had the lowest on base percentage for a position player on the 1975 Reds (.327). They had six players with an on base percentage above .350, and two over .400 (with Ken Griffey clocking in at .391). Not surprisingly, that team was pretty good two years in a row.

Ken Griffey (.366/.401/.450; 140 OPS+). Ken Griffey got his on base percentage above .400 in 1976 and was able to create 4.6 wins above replacement. It would be very enticing to put him at the top of the lineup with Joey Votto hitting second. Speed also would not be a problem as he swiped 34 bags in ’76.

Pete Rose (.323/.404/..450; 141 OPS+). No Reds list would be complete with Peter Edward Rose. His 1976 was fairly typical for Rose: he led the NL in plate appearances (from 1972 to 1978, Rose would do this six of seven seasons). He played 162 games. Rose led the NL in hits, doubles, runs, and finished fourth in MVP voting. All in all, Rose would end up with 6.9 WAR that season.

Joe Morgan (.320/.444/.576, 186 OPS+). When a guy creates 9.6 wins above replacement, its hard to leave him off the short list.

There are other good choices as well, but these are five that jumped out at me. So tell me Nation, which two Big Red Machine players would you select to help the Reds escape their 30 game deficit in the NL Central?