On Wednesday’s Locked On Reds podcast (April 22) Joel Luckhaupt joined me to talk about his list of greatest Reds from each state. While I will certainly be thinking of something much shorter to call it, I have also decided to create my own list. As Joel mentioned, I am not looking for this to be “the last word” or “the definitive list” or anything like that, but merely a discussion starter from my point of view. Like he said, as well, you can find the Reds players from each state by doing a search on baseball-reference.com.
With all due respect to Clay Carroll and Lee May, this one isn’t much of an argument. Foster still holds the record for most homers in a season (52 in 1977). He also has a career slugging percentage of .514 and an OPS+ of 140, good enough for seventh all-time in Reds franchise history.
There were two to choose from here…yeah, just two. Williams has 40 innings pitched with a whopping 54 hits allowed and 32 earned runs allowed. The other guy, Tom Sullivan, had precisely one career at-bat, back in 1925, and grounded out to shortstop as the Reds would go on to lose to the Brooklyn Robins 12-3. You may have heard of the Robins as they now play under the name Dodgers out in Los Angeles…but I digress. Alaska has not offered much in the way of talent, in Reds history.
The holder of the highest batting average in a single World Series, Hatcher and his .271 batting average, as a Red, take the cake for me. Again, not super stiff competition here, so a World Series hero is getting the nod.
Johnson spent the best two seasons of his career as a Red and compiled 6.5 bWAR (had 10.0 career bWAR). He hit .313 with a .346 on-base percentage. He was the lesser known third part of an outfield consisting of Vada Pinson and Pete Rose just before the beginning of the Big Red Machine. There could be an argument for Travis Wood, here, but he only pitched two seasons as a Red and while 2010 was a decent year for him, he was actually worth negative bWAR in 2011.
California is one state that has produced many intriguing and talented Reds. Kevin Mitchell, Gary Nolan, Tom Seaver, Aaron Harang, Ewell Blackwell, Ernie Lombardi, Eric Davis…yeah there’s a lot. Maloney, however, pitched to a 3.09 FIP in 10 years with a strikeout rate of 21.0%. As Joel and I discussed, he would have been the ace of the Big Red Machine, and that would have been phenomenal to see how he continued to pitch. Maloney and Nolan at the top of that rotation, hypothetically, is outstanding.
Not-Hewlett Packard pitched 199.2 innings across the 1912 and 1913 seasons to the tune of a 3.09 FIP (Deadball Era). This is where it could have been cool to see Kevin Gausman as a Red for longer than a year. He had a 31% strikeout rate in just 22.1 innings. Got to believe if he kept that up, he’d be a shoo-in for the best Red from Colorado… but too many what-ifs and we are left with Gene.
Part of the most iconic trio of relievers on the planet, Dibble was un-hittable in 1990 with a 1.50 FIP. He had a strikeout rate of 33.7% in 450.2 innings. He had 619 total K’s as a Red, just 89 less than Joey Jay, the Connecticut Red with the most strikeouts, who had 652 innings more than Dibble. Other notable Connecticutans are Jared Hughes, Chris Denorfia, Kiddo Davis (what a name), and Matt Harvey.
During the Deadball Era, hitting statistics weren’t great. It was an era that throws off historical comparisons, but OPS+ is a nice tool in trying to understand the differences. Hans has a 113 OPS+ in five years with the Reds. He had a .269 batting average with 168 steals, as well. Fun fact, Chris Welsh is also from the great state of Delaware, but his one year as a Red did not eclipse Hans.
District of Columbia
Arguably the best Reds catcher of my fan life, he was on-base almost 36% of the time (.359). He was also a phenomenal defensive catcher who could lead any pitching staff. And I know, that sounds like a cop-out for a catcher who is only okay, but Hanigan was a solid catcher who I would readily compare against any catcher the Reds have had, in the last 30 years. He definitely is the best Red from The District as the only other player who comes close is Pop Snyder or Algie McBride.
The official Ace of Locked On Reds, Arroyo had an indestructible arm, until he left for the Diamondbacks. He had some awesome years in Cincinnati and compiled 1157 strikeouts, 108 wins, and 1,761.1 innings. He has the most complete games (14) in the last 25 years (yeah, Reds pitching has sucked for awhile) and has more complete game shutouts, as a Red, than Johnny Cueto. Florida has plenty of honorable mentions: Jack Billingham, Alex Ochoa, Ryan Freel, Jeff Keppinger, and Jon Coutlangus. Okay, that last one was JK LOL, but plenty of decent players from the Sunshine State.
If not for ailing knees, he may have built one of the best Reds careers of anyone. I mean, 52 homers in 366 games and a .301 average is pretty awesome. Then you add in that he had a .406 on-base percentage and a .506 slugging percentage, he was an absolute monster. Stupid Astroturf. Also, I want to take this moment to remind everyone of Corey Patterson (Atlanta native) and that a 50 OPS+ is pretty bad. How on Earth he got 155 plate appearances as the leadoff hitter in the lineup is beyond the realm of logic.
I’m going with the “guy who has a ring” over the “guy who pitched Opening Day that one time” as Lum is narrowly above Scott Feldman. I mean the pickings here are slim, but Lum did mash 14 dingers.
Come on Idaho, be better, get us some baseball players. Although, with these new Draft limitations, it’s going to be hard to pry someone out of the potato biz for baseball. Which I’m assuming is option B in Idaho.
Big Klu clobbered 251 long balls in 10 years and was runner-up for NL MVP in 1954. The four-time All Star hit more homers than any Red from the state of Illinois (all other Illini Reds hit 242 combined homers). He also didn’t need sleeves and anyone who doesn’t need sleeves doesn’t get left off this list.
The best centerfielder in Reds history, Roush had an unbelievable slash line of .331/.377/.462 and he walked (354) twice as much as he struck out (170). His .331 average is just one point behind Cy Seymour for the franchise all-time lead. Honorable mention goes out to Bubbles Hargrave and Hod Eller, both because of their performances being exemplary and their names being exceptional.
This was a difficult decision. Three pitchers and one hitter made my final list from Iowa with two of the pitchers doing work in the Deadball Era and the hitter being Jerry Hairston. So I went with the hurler from the 1800s. Mostly because he had an ERA+ of 123 in 820 innings.
The Reds have not had a native Kansasi-ite (?) since 1973 and I have picked the last Red from Kansas as the best Red from Kansas. He pitched 601.1 innings with Cincinnati with a 3.74 FIP. He spent the first three years of his career with the Reds and then moved on to Baltimore and Montreal, where he made the All-Star Team in 1978.
One of the better pitchers in Reds history, he was part of the two-headed monster that out-pitched the Detroit Tigers to the 1940 World Series. He pitched during a different time, but that doesn’t mitigate the awesomeness of 189 complete games with 24 shutouts. Anybody whose career contains 2,615.1 innings pitched for one team can say they’ve had a full career and Derringer was just that much better than Don Gullett, Austin Kearns, or Gus Bell.
This is really a two-horse race despite a decent couple of Reds hailing from the state that brought us the awesomeness that is Cajun food, and they both come from the same town in Louisiana. Norm Charlton and Williamson both grew up in Fort Polk, Louisiana. Both were pretty solid relievers, in Reds history, but Williamson was just a smidge better. Norm has a ring and is a part of the most iconic trio of relievers, period, but Williamson was just a smidge better. He had a 28.1% strikeout rate in 322.1 innings and a 155 ERA+.
He hit .272 in his three-year tenure as a Red, but more importantly hit .370 in the 1940 World Series victory over the Tigers. You could argue Gordy Coleman, Denny Neagle, or even Matt Bowman, but this will be one where I take the guy with the ring and an important player in getting that ring, at that.
Not a lot of stud Reds from Massachusetts, but anyone who tossed 7.1 innings shy of 2000 deserves mentioning on this list. No idea what the game was like in the 1890’s compared to now, but Dwyer held down a 3.77 ERA in his Reds tenure and endured 355 unearned runs. You might argue Wayne Granger or the other two 1800 Reds of Frank Fennelly or Hick Carpenter, but the 1992.2 innings is just too impressive for me to pass up on.
I was thinking about picking Milt Pappas for Michigan…okay, that’s a lie. Sabo definitely takes the cake here. He compiled 812 hits, 104 of which were dingers, 116 steals, and scored 443 runs scored. He barely edged out the illustrious Reds career of Clint Hurdle… okay, done with the jokes.
I flipped a coupe of coins on this one. Gullickson is not a player to hang your hat on, and I definitely will hear any and all arguments on this state, but the others you have to choose from are Chris Reitsma, Jack Hannahan, Brad Gulden, or Frank Jude.
This is a bit of bias, and where the process shows through. Like I said, I’m just starting a conversation. I loved Dmitri in a Reds uniform. Billy Hamilton had a longer tenure, Dave Parker was probably technically better, but I cannot pick a guy who let me down as much as Billy and I cannot pick a guy who would also show up on the Pirates all-time players list. If I’m honest I am bias toward Dmitri Young because he was on my favorite Reds team (1999), but he also compiled an .842 OPS in his 565 games as a Red.
Primarily the right fielder on the 1940 World Series champs, Goodman was a two-time All Star and hit .295 in 44 total World Series at-bats. He also had a 118 OPS+ in his Reds tenure which nudges him past teammate Lonny Frey, in my book. An honorable mention goes out to a pitcher I really wanted to pick. Theodore Breitenstein pitched for the Reds from 1897-1900. If he were to pitch today, I really hope that any and all announcers would introduce him as the day’s starter with demeanor of a person wearing a monocle and top hat.
The only player ever to join the Reds from the Big Sky state, Couch was right at average to a bit below average. He pitched during the 1922 and 23 seasons, amassing 333.1 innings pitched with a 4.32 ERA (3.91 FIP). He did walk more batters (71) than he struck out (59) but somehow also tossed two complete game shutouts.
Dude had a 142 OPS+ from 1899-1902, batting .312 with a .361 on-base percentage. His performance merits choosing him over a couple of awesome names in Pid Purdy and Mysterious Walker. Hitting like that at the beginning of the Deadball Era is just impressive.
Two pitchers who had very short tenures as Reds hail from Las Vegas. No other Reds hailed from Nevada. Joe Valentine came to the Reds with Aaron Harang in 2003 and has an all-time profile picture on baseball-reference, so he’s my pick. Ted Davidson is the other Navadan.
Three Reds in the 150 year history of the franchise came from New Hampshire. Two of the played before 1900 and the other was Rich Gale, in 1983. He was the only one with enough playing time to be interesting and he compiled a .361 on-base percentage. The other Red from the 1890’s was named Lem, so I guess that’s something to consider.
You could argue for Sean Casey. You could argue for Todd Frazier. Jeffrey Hammonds, Wayne Krenchicki, Anthony DeSclafani, Jack Armstrong, and Ron Villone are all strong cases (okay, maybe some of those aren’t) but when you toss back-to-back no-hitters, you win at pretty much everything.
Okay, I’ll admit, this is a contrarian pick. Any time you can amass 51 plate appearances in one year and still have an OPS+ of 2, you deserve mentioning in something. This will be that mention.
There are a lot of really good Reds to come from New York and with all due respect to Jesse Winker, he has a lot of work to do to get his name up with these guys. Seymour, the franchise leader in career batting average, takes the cake for me. He beats out a number of really great players who you could convince me to pick, depending on the day. Heinie Groh, Bid McPhee, Frank McCormick, John Franco, and you might even throw in Pete Harnisch. Honorable mentions go out to Old Hoss Radbourn (because nobody puts Old Hoss in a corner) and Ice Box Chamberlain. Ice Box is, of course, the nickname of Elton Chamberlain. Why someone named Elton felt he needed a nickname, too, I will never know, but baseball-reference notes that “he alternated pitching arms during at least one game” which is pretty cool.
If not for Joe Morgan, Brandon Phillips is this franchise’s best second baseman. No one has had a better glove or a bigger smile and with all due respect to strong cameos by Josh Hamilton, Jon Nunnally, Todd Coffey, and Kevin Shackelford, Dat Dude is the dude from the Tar Heel state. He was a four-time Gold Glover (should have been more), three-time All Star, and a Silver Slugger.
Like Idaho, be better North Dakota. I mean, I know a bison can’t play baseball, but this is America where dreams come true.
The best shortstop, and one of the five best overall players, in Reds history, Larkin is a Hall of Famer and an Ohioan Reds fans can be proud of. He narrowly gets my vote over the game’s best singles hitter, in Pete Rose, and one of the games most interesting players (look it up), in Long John Reilly. Joe Nuxhall also a strong argument for more than just his playing career but also his time behind the microphone.
Not really too much to argue with the game’s best catcher being the best Sooner Red.
I’m giving Hatty the nod for doing a solid job of holding down the first base spot from Casey to Votto. 109 OPS+ with 103 walks compared to 83 strikeouts. You could probably pick Howie Fox (as Joel did) or maybe look at Tom Parrott, who pitched in the 1890’s, but I’m going with a dude who has the distinction of having Chris Pratt portray him in Moneyball. Just so you’re reminded of this guy, Kevin Gregg was once a Red and he, too, grew up in Oregon.
Arguably one of the best pitchers in the history of the franchise, he willed the Reds to the World Series in 1940 and tossed a complete game-shutout in a win-or-go-home Game Six. He started 296 games, in 10 years, and went the distance in 195 of them. I don’t think this discussion is all that close and that is saying something given the competition. Folks could argue that The Kid, Ken Griffey Jr., could be the guy from Pennsylvania, but I do not think his Reds career eclipsed that of Walters.
Given that the options are Coakley, Mason Williams, or Paul Konerko, I guess I’m taking the Deadball Era pitcher with 507.2 innings pitched and a 2.11 ERA. You could also argue between Jo-Jo Morrissey and Jumbo Brown because who doesn’t love a classic Jo-Jo or Jumbo argument?
I know the Reds once thought Dan Driessen was good enough to trade Tony Perez (too soon?) but Reggie Sanders is one of my favorite all-time Reds and the best player from my favorite state. He had an .829 OPS with the distinct honor of being, arguably, the best part of the 1995 squad. You may also ask why not D.T. Cromer or Asher Wojciechowski and I will respond by asking you how many voices are in your head.
When I think about having a time machine and going back and seeing past Reds that I never got to see, Pinson is number one. All due respect to Noodles Hahn, I kinda downplay pitcher stats from the Deadball Era, and Pinson was just flat good at baseball. 186 dingers and a .810 OPS, to go along with 221 steals, in 10 years is just better than what Zack Cozart, Joe Oliver, or even the pitching arm of Hahn did.
This is the hardest state to pick. Some names who aren’t even being considered, but probably would have been picked if they grew up anywhere else include Adam Dunn, Jay Bruce, Curt Walker, Eddie Taubensee, 1995 Ron Gant, and even Homer Bailey. All good, but not near good enough to eclipse this two-horse race of Morgan and Frank Robinson. Two of the greatest players this sport has ever seen both hail from the same state. These two dudes are the two best players this franchise has ever seen and, honestly, you could convince of both players winning this argument, at any moment. Robinson had a .943 OPS as a Red. You read that right, .943! Joe Morgan, however, could do absolutely anything he wanted. Heck, if he pitched, I bet he’d have been pretty darn good at it. Honorable mention to a dude who caught in a few games in 1914 whose name was Tx. That’s right, Tex from Texas once played catcher for the Reds.
After the awesomeness that is Texas, Utah is quite uninspiring. There’s not even an awesome name to speak of. So let’s go with the Ute who tossed the most innings for the Reds with 674.1. He also led the league in ERA in 1944 with a 2.38 mark. Moving on.
Pitched in 1919 and 1920, got a ring, nothing super impressive. Only three Reds ever were from Vermont, he’s my guy. Two seasons, but with a 2.47 ERA in 375.1 innings. Let’s move on.
Another really underrated pitcher in Reds history, he tossed 2,890.2 innings and didn’t join Cincinnati until he was 30. He had a 3.33 ERA and compiled 179 wins, which is most in franchise history. You could have argued for Mat Latos (though I’m not sure why) or maybe Deck McGuire? Okay, yeah, Rixey wins this one in a landslide.
The “closer” of the Nasty Boys definitely makes this list. He had a 22.2% strikeout rate and had a 132 ERA+. Shoutout to Bud Podbielan and Willie Bloomquist who are the only real challengers to Myers, here.
Andy hit the most homers by a Red from the state of West Virginia, with 41. You could also argue Dick Hoblitzell, who had a 111 OPS+ during the Deadball Era, but chicks dig the long ball.
Mr. Perfect finishes off the list. It was between him and Jeremy Horst who supposedly pitched in 2011. Raise your hand if you remember him because I do not.
Hope you enjoyed this and, like I said, this is just the beginning of a fun conversation looking at each state and who the best Red is from that state. Debate away!
P.S. – the best Red from the state of Canada is obviously Joseph Daniel Votto.