Cincinnati - Big Red Machine All Time Roster

Best at each position, in one season, in team history

A look at the all-time starting roster for the Cincinnati Reds in the team's history, which dates to 1882. The Reds are the oldest team in baseball. It's not a career record - it's taken from the best season any player had at that position in team history to create a lineup.

Starting pitcher: Bucky Walters

Bucky Walters
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1939: 27-11, 2.29 ERA, 319 IP, 250 H, 137 Ks, 1.125 WHIP

Rest of the rotation: Mario Soto (1983, 17-13, 2.70 ERA, 19 CG, 273.2 IP, 207 H, 242 Ks, 1.104 WHIP), Jose Rijo (1991, 15-6, 2.51 ERA, 204.1 IP, 165 H, 172 Ks, 1.077 WHIP), Tom Seaver (1979, 16-6, 3.14 ERA, 215 IP, 187 H, 131 Ks, 1.153 WHIP), Jim Maloney (1963, 23-7, 2.77 ERA, 250.1 IP, 183 H, 265 Ks, 1.083 WHIP)

Despite a history that's longer than any team, the Reds have never had a Cy Young Award winner. That's why it's hard to pick an ace. They have had an MVP as a pitcher in Walters, in 1939, so we'll go with him minus a clear-cut choice. Seaver is the lone Hall of Famer in the group and is also in the Mets' all-time lineup. Soto was the runner-up in Cy Young voting in 1983, and Rijo was fourth in 1991. The fifth starter is Maloney, a mainstay in the Reds rotation in the 1960s.

Catcher: Johnny Bench

Profile of Johnny Bench with Mitt During Game
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1970: .293, 45 HR, 148 RBI, .932 OPS

Backup: Ernie Lombardi (1938, .342, 19 HR, 95 RBI, .915 OPS)

Bench was MVP and led the NL in homers and RBI at age 22 in 1970, and he was also the best defensive catcher in the league, and perhaps all-time. The backup is Lombardi, who is also a Hall of Famer who was MVP in his best season of 1938 when he led the NL in batting.

First baseman: Ted Kluszewski

Baseball Player Ted Kluszewski in Batting Position
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1954: .326, 49 HR, 141 RBI, 1.049 OPS

Backup: Joey Votto (2010, .324, 37 HR, 113 RBI, 1.024 OPS)

This is a rough one. Votto is the lone MVP in the bunch, and perhaps he'll pass Kluszewski one day, but we'll go with "Big Klu" for now, who was second in 1954. And we somehow keep Tony Perez off the team, with the Hall of Famer a strong third.

Second baseman: Joe Morgan

1976: .320, 27 HR, 111 RBI, 60 SB, 1.020 OPS

Backup: Bid McPhee (1894, .313, 5 HR, 93 RBI, 33 SB, .855 OPS)

The Hall of Famer Morgan was the MVP in 1976, turning in an incredible season as the Big Red Machine won the World Series. He's one of the best at the position all-time. The backup is McPhee, also a Hall of Famer, but from a very different era. He beats out Brandon Phillips for the spot.

Shortstop: Barry Larkin

Cubs v Reds - Barry Larkin
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1995: .319, 15 HR, 66 RBI, 51 SB, .896 OPS

Backup: Dave Concepcion (1979, .281, 16 HR, 84 RBI, 19 SB, .764 OPS)

There are MVPs and Hall of Famers up the middle on this defense. Larkin was MVP in 1995, with the best season of his Cooperstown-worthy career. Concepcion, one of the greatest defensive players ever, wasn't bad with the bat, either. He's an easy choice as a backup.

Third baseman: Pete Rose

Pete Rose Rounding First Base

1976: .323, 10 HR, 63 RBI, .854 OPS

Backup: Deron Johnson (1965, .287, 32 HR, 130 RBI, .854 OPS)

Statistically, perhaps Johnson is a better choice. But how can the Reds' all-time lineup not have Pete Rose in it? He had better seasons offensively as the right fielder in 1969 (.348, 16 HR), but is a better fit here. Johnson was fourth in the MVP voting in 1965 and led the NL in RBIs.

Left fielder: George Foster

World Series in Progress with George Foster

1977: .320, 52 HR, 149 RBI, 1.013 OPS

Backup: Kevin Mitchell (1994, .326, 30 HR, 77 RBI, 1.110 OPS)

Foster was the NL MVP in 1977, with one of the best power seasons in league history during an era when players didn't hit 50 homers in a season. The backup is a tough call between Mitchell and Adam Dunn of 2004, but we'll go with Mitchell because he hit for average and power, and can make bare-handed grabs in left field, too.

Center fielder: Eric Davis

Cincinnati Reds - Eric Davis
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1987: .293, 37 HR, 100 RBI, 50 SB, .990 OPS

Backup: Ken Griffey Jr. (2000, .271, 40 HR, 118 RBI, .942 OPS)

Not the deepest position in team history, but Davis was a dynamic talent in the late 1980s and hit for power and had blazing speed. The backup is a future Hall of Famer in Griffey Jr., whose time with his hometown Reds was disappointing because of injury but had a solid first season in 2000.

Right fielder: Frank Robinson

Frank Robinson Sliding into Homebase

1962: .342, 39 HR, 136 RBI, 18 SB, 1.045 OPS.

Backup: Wally Post (1955, .309, 40 HR, 109 RBI, .946 OPS)

Robinson was MVP the previous season, but had his best season statistically in 1962, when he had 208 hits and led the league in slugging and on-base percentage. How they let him go in his prime to Baltimore was perhaps the worst decision in franchise history, to let go of one of the top left fielders ever. And the backup is Post, who narrowly nips Dave Parker of 1985 for the honor.

Closer: John Franco

Cincinnati Reds - John Franco
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1988: 6-6, 1.57 ERA, 39 saves, 86 IP, 60 H, 46 Ks, 1.012 WHIP

Backup: Ted Abernathy (1967, 6-3, 1.27 ERA, 106.1 IP, 63 H, 99 Ks, 0.978 WHIP)

Franco was one of the great left-handed closers of all-time and was at his best in Cincinnati in 1988 before heading off to the Mets. The backup is Abernathy, who had a fabulous season in 1967, a great one for pitchers.

Batting Order

  1. 3B Pete Rose
  2. 2B Joe Morgan
  3. RF Frank Robinson
  4. C Johnny Bench
  5. LF George Foster
  6. 1B Ted Kluszewski
  7. CF Eric Davis
  8. SS Barry Larkin
  9. P Bucky Walters