5 best Reds who aren't in the Hall of Fame

December 1st, 2021

CINCINNATI -- They were great Reds players, and many of them were beloved around Major League Baseball, too. But for one reason or another, they are not enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

This week, we are taking a look at the top five Reds who were not inducted into the Hall of Fame. One stipulation is we’re only discussing retired players, which means Joey Votto is not eligible for the purpose of this exercise. These rankings are for fun and debate purposes only.

1. Pete Rose (1963-86)

One of the biggest flashpoints of controversy in any Hall of Fame debate, Rose would have seen his plaque in Cooperstown, N.Y., decades ago had he not been banned from Major League Baseball since 1989 for betting on games while managing the Reds. Although MLB has no say in the voting process, the Hall of Fame determined that any player on the league’s ineligible list is unable to be inducted.

Rose’s 79.7 career bWAR with the Reds, Phillies and Expos is ranked 64th in MLB history, but it’s only the fourth highest among retired players who would otherwise be eligible. Of course, he’s also baseball’s all-time hits leader (4,256) and leads in games played (3,562) and at-bats (14,053).

A part of Cincinnati’s "Big Red Machine" that won back-to-back World Series titles in 1975 and '76, Rose won an additional World Series championship with Philadelphia in '80. A 17-time All-Star, he was the '63 National League Rookie of the Year Award winner, the '73 NL MVP Award winner, the '75 World Series MVP Award winner and the owner of three batting titles. Rose was named a member of MLB’s All-Century team in '99.

2. Vada Pinson (1958-75)

Pinson’s 54.2 career bWAR ranks just ahead of Hall of Famer and former teammate Tony Perez, as Pinson spent 11 of his 18 seasons with Cincinnati. It’s also above Hall of Fame center fielders like Earl Averill, Kirby Puckett, Larry Doby and Max Carey. Pinson, who also played for the Cardinals, Indians, Angels and Royals, collected 2,757 hits, but he was always overlooked for Hall of Fame consideration.

Many of Pinson’s best seasons came before he was 25 years old. At different points, he led the NL in runs (1959), hits ('61 and ’63), doubles ('59-60) and triples ('63 and ’67). In '61, when the Reds won the NL pennant, he was third in NL MVP Award voting and won a Gold Glove Award. Five times during his career, Pinson had 20-homer, 20-steal seasons.

3. Dave Parker (1973-91)

One of the most feared hitters in the 1970s and '80s and the '78 NL MVP Award winner with the Pirates, Parker has exhausted all of his chances to get into the Hall of Fame via the BBWAA balloting. Over 19 seasons, the seven-time All-Star slashed .290/.339/.471 with 339 home runs and won a World Series with Pittsburgh in '79.

The Cincinnati native had a strong second chapter of his career with his hometown team after signing as a free agent. His best season for the Reds came in 1985, when he hit .312/.365/.551 with 34 homers and led the league with 42 doubles and 125 RBIs while finishing second in the NL MVP Award voting.

4. Dave Concepcion (1970-88)

Before Hall of Famer Barry Larkin, Concepcion manned shortstop for Cincinnati for all 18 years of his career -- much of it during the era of the "Big Red Machine." The club’s all-time defensive bWAR leader at 21.4, Concepcion was part of teams that won five division titles, four NL pennants and consecutive World Series in 1975-76. He was a nine-time All-Star and won five Gold Glove Awards, second most for the club behind Johnny Bench’s 10.

A two-time Silver Slugger Award winner, Concepcion is third in Reds history in hits (2,326), doubles (389) and steals (321) and fifth in runs scored (993). He was one of the best of his era, and his numbers are on par or eclipse those of other Hall of Fame shortstops like Ozzie Smith, Pee Wee Reese and Phil Rizzuto.

5. Bucky Walters (1934-48, 1950)

In 1939, Walters won the NL MVP Award after completing the pitching Triple Crown with a 2.39 ERA, 27 wins, 137 strikeouts, 319 innings, 36 starts and 31 complete games, as the Reds won the NL pennant. In ’40, as Cincinnati won the World Series, he just missed another Triple Crown, going 22-10 with a 2.48 ERA with 29 complete games and 115 strikeouts over 305 innings.

A five-time All-Star, Walters led the NL from 1939-46 in wins, innings and complete games (according to SABR research). He hurt his arm during the ’45 season and didn’t make more than 22 starts over his final four seasons in Cincinnati. Walters also had stints with the Phillies and Dodgers, but none were more successful than his time in Cincinnati.