CINCINNATI -- Putting together a roster based on all-time seasons is no easy task. Factor in the long history of great Reds players, and deciding an all-time roster based on their best seasons gets complicated.
Which Johnny Bench MVP season gets selected? Ted Kluszewski or Joey Votto at first base? Who should be the starting pitcher?
As part of an ongoing series for MLB.com, here’s a look at the team the Reds might field among its best of the best.
C – Johnny Bench, 1970
.293/.345/.587, 45 HRs, 148 RBIs
As the Reds reached the World Series, Bench won the first of his two National League MVP trophies while leading the Majors in homers and RBIs. He was also an All-Star and Gold Glove winner, all at the age of 22.
1B – Ted Kluszewski, 1954
.326/.407/.642, 49 HRs, 141 RBIs
Kluszewski led the Majors in homers and RBIs and slugged a two-run homer during the All-Star Game. He finished a close second to Willie Mays for the ’54 NL MVP.
2B – Joe Morgan, 1975
.327/.466/.508, 17 HRs, 94 RBIs
In the first of back-to-back NL MVP seasons, Morgan led the Majors in OPS (.974), OPS+ (169) and walks (132) while notching 67 stolen bases as the Reds went on to win their first World Series since 1940.
SS – Barry Larkin, 1996
.298/.410/.567, 33 HRs, 89 RBIs
The 1995 NL MVP, Larkin posted better overall numbers in ’96 and set a career high in homers. With 36 steals, he became the first shortstop and second Red to ever have a 30/30 season.
3B – Pete Rose, 1978
.302/.362/.421, 7 HRs, 52 RBIs
Although he had several memorable years (including his 1973 MVP campaign), Rose’s ’78 season was quite special. His 44-game hitting streak was the third-longest in Major League history. He remains the closest to reach Joe DiMaggio’s record-setting 56-game hit streak from 1941.
LF – George Foster, 1977
.320/.382/.631, 52 HRs, 149 RBIs
The ’77 NL MVP, Foster set franchise records in homers and RBIs. He also led the Majors with a .631 slugging percentage and the NL with a 1.013 OPS and 124 runs scored. The closest he ever came to another 50-plus homer season was in ’78, when he slugged 40 with 120 RBIs.
CF – Eric Davis, 1987
.293/.399/.593, 37 HRs, 100 RBIs
Davis stole 50 bases in ’87 as well, which made him the first Major Leaguer in history to hit at least 30 homers and steal 50 bases in the same season. And he achieved both feats despite playing only 129 games. He was also a first-time All-Star and Gold Glove winner.
RF – Frank Robinson, 1962
.342/.421/.624, 39 HRs, 136 RBIs
Robinson won the NL MVP award in ’61 as the Reds won the NL pennant, but his ’62 season was even better as he had a 173 OPS+ and 8.7 in WAR. However, he finished fourth in MVP voting after the season behind winner Maury Wills, Willie Mays and Tommy Davis.
SP – Bucky Walters, 1939
27-11, 2.29 ERA, 39 games, 36 starts, 319 innings
Walters claimed the NL pitching Triple Crown, making him one of only 16 to achieve the feat in the 145-year history of the league. Of the 36 starts he made that season, 31 were complete games to lead the Majors. He was worth 8.2 WAR as a pitcher and claimed the NL MVP Award as the Reds went on to win the NL pennant.
RP – Aroldis Chapman, 2012
5-5, 1.51 ERA, 38 saves, 68 appearances
In his first season as a closer, the electrifying Chapman and his triple-digit fastball were often unhittable. Over 71 2/3 innings, the left-hander struck out 122 batters, averaging an astounding 15.3 strikeouts per nine innings. Cincinnati won the NL Central, and Chapman was a first-time All-Star.