There was an interesting tweet floating around the Cincinnati Reds landscape over the weekend. User Gingersaurus Rex posed the question of three players in Reds history of your choosing – who would in a home run derby?

The Cincinnati Reds have been around for a very long time. They’ve had a few big time home run hitters, too. But only once in the entire history of the franchise have they had a player top 50 home runs in a season – 1977 when George Foster hit 52 of them while bringing home the National League’s Most Valuable Player Award. Eugenio Suarez (2019) and Ted Kluszewski (1954) came close, hitting 49 in their best seasons. Kluszewski is also next on the list with 47 home runs in his 1955 season.

Somehow there have only been 16 seasons in which a Cincinnati Reds player has hit 40 home runs. Only nine players have done so, with Adam Dunn doing it four times from 2004-2007.

With all of that said, the Reds have had some truly impressive home run hitters that never hit 40 in a season for the organization – even if they didn’t always make it happen in games.

Very few baseballs have been hit out of Great American Ballpark. We all remember Adam Dunn hitting one to center field off of Jose Lima that cleared the batters eye and bounced into the river. That was a truly magical moment. But one of the other players to leave Great American Ballpark was Juan Francisco. He went over the stands in right field back in 2011.

The stories of Juan Francisco’s raw power are legendary. Back when the Reds were still in Sarasota, a young Francisco hit a ball in batting practice that reportedly hit a batting cage on the backfields well beyond the wall. Google maps measured that cage to be 528 feet from home plate.

And who could ever forget Wily Mo Pena? Before we had Trackman set up in every ballpark, we had estimations on how far home runs went. And early on in Great American Ballpark’s history it was Pena topping the 500-foot mark with a 502-foot blast in 2005.

Much like Francisco – the exploits of a Wily Mo Pena batting practice session are that of legend. How hard and how far he could hit a baseball seemed impossible.

Then there is also a guy that you may have forgotten even played for the Reds: Wladimir Balentien. He played in all of 40 games for the Cincinnati Reds and managed just three homers. In his big league career he managed to hit just 15 home runs in 170 games. But he’s near the top of the list on the longest home runs ever hit in Great American Ballpark with this blast back in 2009, which was his final Major League home run.

In 2011 Wladimir Balentien would take his talents to Japan. He’s hit at least 30 home runs every season there since, except in 2015 when he was injured and missed nearly the entire year. He broke the all-time single season home run record in 2013 with Yakult, hitting 60 home runs in 130 games. Between the minors, majors, and Japan – Balentien has hit 466 career homers.

Actual Home Run Derby Winners

The All-Star game has featured a home run derby every year since 1985 except for in 1988 when it was rained out. IN CINCINNATI. Because of course it was. The Reds have had three winners since the start of the competition, including the first ever winner – Dave Parker in 1985. Four years later Eric Davis would tie Ruben Sierra for the win out in Anaheim. It would be quite a while until the next Red won a home run derby, but it sure was exciting as Todd Frazier kept the trophy in Cincinnati in 2015 by winning things at home.

Ken Griffey Jr. is the only player to ever win three home run derbies, but all three of his wins came as a Seattle Mariner. And while he didn’t win, Josh Hamilton‘s 28 home runs in the first round at Yankee Stadium in 2008 was unforgettable as he just kept going and going, and hitting them further and further into the night.

Who is on your Reds home run derby squad?

The current home run derby format is to have eight players from baseball face off. So that’s your assignment: Pick eight players from Cincinnati Reds history to face off in your home run derby. Here are the eight that I’m picking, in alphabetical order:

  • Adam Dunn
  • George Foster
  • Josh Hamilton
  • Juan Francisco
  • Ken Griffey Jr.
  • Ted Kluszewski
  • Wily Mo Pena
  • Wladimir Balentien

Outside of Ken Griffey Jr., who had more home runs than anyone on the list by a long shot, all of those guys were known for that pure power and how far they could hit the ball. That’s not to say that Griffey couldn’t hit the baseball 450 feet – but he was more of a “lots of home runs” guy than a “hits the ball to the literal moon” kind of guy. The man was great at everything, though, and winning home run derbies falls into that category.

Who makes your all-Reds home run derby team?

20 Responses


    Griffen Jr Kluszewski. And Dunn i wish I could’ve put Foster in but those 3 i picked made there Whole careers with the long ball And Adam Dunn will be in the Hall of fame one day so make all 3 of them Hall of fame long ball hitters just think they’re the best out of our choices And could win a Derby at any day

    • My Beloved Reds

      I think Adam Dunn and the HoF is an interesting debate. He hit lots of homers, drew lots of walks, scored lots of runs and struck out a lot. His defense was below average with the glove and his arm was not what you’d expect considering he was a big time high school QB. It will be interesting to see how he fares in HoF voting.

      • Doug Gray

        He already fared. He got 1 vote.

  2. gusnwally

    Big Klu is my favorite Red of all time. However, he really hit line drives more than high flies.Hence the 330 avg many times. I have to think Adam Dunn would be my pick.

  3. Mike Adams

    I would put Johnny Bench in place of Josh Hamilton on your list, Doug.

    And by the way if one HAD to include a pitcher with this HR derby lineup, who would you put in?

    FYI, the three all time leaders were Nuxhall with 13 HR in 701 AB, Walters with 8 HR in 879 AB and Lorenzen with 7 HR in 132 AB. I would go with Lorenzen.

    • Doug Gray

      The correct answer would be Micah Owings.

  4. Rude Onederful

    Other than those already mentioned:

    Greg Vaughn
    Nick Esasky

    also, anyone remember Gary Redus going head to head & defeating Dale Murphy @ Riverfront back in 1983?

  5. Adam

    Reggie Sanders
    Ron Gant
    Glenn Braggs….
    to name a few more

  6. Gonzo Reds

    Heard the latest idea for this season has all the division teams being segregated together and playing round robin 4 game series. Best half of teams move onto the next round. The other teams would continue to play as well with those winners becoming the wild card teams. Didn’t catch all the details but certainly like an idea where we keep most of our games in our division.

  7. RedNat

    Dunn said he could win the HR derby today and I believe him

    man just looking at that list is there any other franchises this side of the Yankees that have had more excellent power hitting outfielders?
    the reds have an impressive list

  8. MK


  9. Gregory Schrand

    Just wondering Does anyone know how far the famous home run went when Perez hit The Spaceman’s eephus pitch?

    • Mike Adams

      I saw that live on tv.

      As I recall it was 400 to 425 feet to center.

      It was not a long bomb and I don’t think it made it to the stands.

  10. greenmtred

    It’s decided by number of homers, not distance so, Foster, Big Klu and Griffey Jr.

  11. JayTheRed

    My top 3 choices would be in order:

    Adam Dunn
    Kevin Mitchell
    Eric Davis

    Reason I picked these players is that I saw them in person several times in life and there was always some excitement and anticipation whenever I would see them come to the plate. No offense to the other power hitters in our history but if you are there to see the player it probably means more to you.

    special considerations go to:
    Griffey Jr. — Saw player was a great but everyone would pick him I think
    Aquino – Great 2 months approximately setting tons of records but too new
    Foster – Heard amazing things about this guy but just never got to see him play.

  12. redfan4life