Best position-player seasons in Reds history

November 30th, 2020

CINCINNATI -- A franchise that has spanned 151 years of existence, the Reds have produced several legendary teams, all-time great players and even more superlative individual seasons.

As part of an ongoing series from MLB.com that ranks the best of the best, here are the Reds' top five individual seasons by a position player:

1. , 1975
The 1975 season was the pinnacle of the Big Red Machine, and Morgan won the first of two consecutive National League Most Valuable Player Awards. Morgan's 11.0 Wins Above Replacement was the best season among any modern-era Reds player. The future Hall of Famer batted .327 and led the Majors in OBP (.466), OPS (.974), OPS+ (169) and walks (132) while notching 67 stolen bases as the Reds went on to win their first World Series title since 1940. Besides being a no-brainer for the NL All-Star team, Morgan also won his third of five consecutive Gold Glove Awards at second base. Morgan followed that up with a 9.6 WAR and a 1.020 OPS in ‘76 that led the Majors while batting .320 with 60 steals as Cincinnati went on to win back-to-back World Series championships.

2. , 1977
The NL MVP Award winner in 1977, Foster led the Majors and set franchise records with 52 home runs and 149 RBIs. He also batted .320 and led the NL with a 1.013 OPS and 124 runs scored. His 8.4 WAR ranked third in the Majors. The closest Foster came to another 50-plus homer season was in ’78, when he slugged 40 with 120 RBIs.

3. Johnny Bench, 1970
Bench had arguably the best season of his career when he led the Majors with 45 home runs and 148 RBIs while batting .293 with a 7.4 WAR and career-best .932 OPS. As the Reds reached the World Series, Bench won the first of his two NL MVP Awards and became an All-Star and Gold Glove winner for the third time out of 10 straight. In addition to his exemplary fielding, Bench set new standards offensively among catchers and went on to slug 389 home runs during his Hall of Fame career.

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4. , 1962
Robinson won the NL MVP Award in 1961 as the Reds won the pennant, batting .323/.404/.611 with 37 home runs, 124 RBIs, a 164 OPS+ and a 7.7 WAR. But the future Hall of Famer produced even better numbers in ’62, batting .342/.421/.624 with 39 homers, 136 RBIs, a 173 OPS+ and an 8.7 in WAR. However, Robinson finished fourth in MVP voting behind winner Maury Wills, Willie Mays and Tommy Davis.

5. , 1954
Known as “Big Klu,” and for muscles that hulked through the Reds’ sleeveless jerseys, Kluszewski led the Majors with 49 home runs and 141 RBIs while batting .326 with a 1.049 OPS. During the All-Star Game in Cleveland that season, he slugged a two-run homer. Kluszewski, a four-time All-Star for Cincinnati, finished a close second to Mays for the 1954 NL MVP as the New York Giants went on to capture a World Series title. The Redlegs went 74-80 and were in fifth place in the NL standings.

Honorable mentions
, 1978: Although he had several memorable years, including his 1973 MVP season, Rose’s ’78 season was special. His 44-game hitting streak was the third longest in Major League history, and he remains the player who came closest to reaching Joe DiMaggio’s record-setting 56-game hit streak in '41.

, 2010: While batting .324/.424/.600 with 37 homers and 113 RBIs, Votto won the NL MVP and helped the Reds win the NL Central, their first playoff berth in 15 years.