Reds' Top 5 left fielders: Sheldon's take

April 28th, 2020

No one loves a good debate quite like baseball fans, and with that in mind, we asked each of our beat reporters to rank the top five players by position in the history of their franchise, based on their career while playing for that club. These rankings are for fun and debate purposes only … if you don’t agree with the order, participate in the Twitter poll to vote for your favorite at this position.

Here is Mark Sheldon’s ranking of the top 5 left fielders in Reds history. Next week: center field.

(Note: This list entails players whose primary positioning was in left.)

Reds' Top 5 rankings: C | 1B | 2B | 3B | SS

1. , 1971-81
Key fact: Had 39.5 bWAR over his career in Cincinnati (16th all-time in franchise history)

On May 29, 1971, the Reds acquired Foster from the Giants for shortstop Frank Duffy and right-hander Vern Geishert. It proved one of the most lopsided and best deals in franchise history. Foster was largely a part-time player until Pete Rose was moved from left field to third base in 1975 (and the hot corner is where the hit king was ranked in this series). That opened the way for Foster, who had improved as a hitter under coach Ted Kluszewski in more recent seasons.

Foster slashed .300/.356/.518 with 23 home runs in 1975 before batting .364 in the National League Championship Series and adding a pair of RBIs in the Reds' World Series triumph over the Red Sox. In the iconic Game 6, his assist on a throw to the plate in the bottom of the ninth helped force extra innings.

In 1976, as Cincinnati won another World Series, Foster batted .306/.364/.530 with 29 homers and a Major League-leading 121 RBIs. But his best season came in '77, the year he won the NL MVP Award while hitting .320/.382/.631 while pacing the Major Leagues and setting club records with 52 homers and 149 RBIs. In '78, he hit 40 homers with 120 RBIs, to lead the NL. Over his 11 seasons in Cincinnati, Foster went to five All-Star Games and was the biggest power threat of the Big Red Machine years.

2. , 2001-08
Key fact: Ranks first all-time on the club in at-bats per home run (13.8)

In 1,087 games for Cincinnati, Dunn batted .247/.380/.520 with 270 home runs, 646 RBIs, 920 hits and 678 runs scored. His .520 slugging percentage ranks second in franchise history behind Frank Robinson, and he is fifth all time in home runs behind Johnny Bench, Robinson, Tony Perez and Joey Votto.

Dunn led or tied for the team lead in homers for seven straight seasons and had four consecutive campaigns of 40 or more home runs from 2004-07. (He hit 40 in '08, but only 32 were for the Reds before being traded on Aug. 11. His 32 were still enough for the team high.)

Dunn was a NL All-Star in 2002. On Aug. 10, 2004, he hit the longest home run in the history of Great American Ball Park, an estimated 535-foot drive that landed on the shore of the Ohio River.

3. Bob Bescher, 1908-13
Key fact: Held the single-season modern NL record for steals from 1911-1961

Born in the same town where he died -- London, Ohio, near Columbus -- Bescher was known as “The London Flash” for his ability to steal bases, leading the NL in swipes for four consecutive years. His career-high of 81 steals in 1911 remains the modern day franchise record. It stood as the NL record until Maury Wills eclipsed it with 104 steals in '62.

A little over a century after he played his final game for the Reds in 1913, Bescher’s name resurfaced for a time when Billy Hamilton was stealing bases at a torrid pace and broke Bescher’s single-season club rookie record of 54 steals by swiping 56 bags in 2014.

4. , 1986-89
Key fact: Once had a salary dispute settled with a coin flip in the Spring Training parking lot

Daniels’ time in Cincinnati was relatively short as knee injuries took their toll. But as a 22-year-old rookie in 1986, the lefty hitter became a sensation as he slashed .320/.398/.519 with six home runs in 74 games. In ’87, he batted .334 with a 1.046 OPS and 26 homers in 108 games.

When facing the best, Daniels could rise to the occasion. Just look at his exceptional career averages vs. Hall of Famers: .353 vs. Nolan Ryan, .400 vs. Tom Glavine, .471 vs. Greg Maddux and .300 vs. John Smoltz. Against Orel Hershiser, considered one of the elite pitchers in the 1980s, Daniels batted .429 with four homers, six RBIs and six walks.

5. Pat Duncan, 1919-24
Key fact: Was the first big league hitter to clear the fences for a home run out of Redland Field in 1921

Following his military service in World War I, Duncan was picked up by the Reds in August of 1919 and emerged as a key contributor. He went 7-for-26 with a team-leading eight RBIs playing all eight games in the 1919 World Series win over the White Sox -- all amid a massive scandal, of course.

Over his six seasons with Cincinnati Duncan batted .307/.355/.420.

Honorable mentions
(1962-67) led the Major Leagues with 126 runs scored in '65. … (2015-18) hit a career-best 33 homers with 103 RBIs during an All-Star '16 campaign. ... Kevin Mitchell (1993-94) smacked 30 homers while batting .326 with a 1.110 OPS during the strike-shortened ’94 season.