These five Reds got no respect
HERE'S THE SKINNY
By Richard Skinner • Enquirer contributor • August 17, 2008
Now that perennial whipping boy Adam Dunn has been traded, it's a good time to look at other under-appreciated Reds players from the past 50 years. These five were key cogs and statistically brilliant at times, but they always seemed to fly under the radar or draw unwarranted criticism:
5. Paul O'Neill
Years with Reds: 1985-92
Reds statistics:.259 batting average, 96 home runs, 411 RBI, 321 runs
The Skinny: His underappreciation came mostly from Jim Bowden, who had taken over as the Reds' general manager in 1992.
O'Neill's success with the Reds can't be measured totally in his statistics, and there's no doubt his best seasons came after he was traded to the New York Yankees following the 1992 season.
O'Neill was a solid performer in perhaps the best sustained period of success for the team since the Big Red Machine years. The Reds finished second in the National League West in 1988, won the World Series in 1990 and finished second in the NL West again in 1992.
O'Neill averaged 18 homers and 76 RBI per season from 1988-92 and his play was stellar in right field. He finished 19th in the NL MVP voting in 1991 and was selected to the All-Star team in 1992, then promptly was dealt for the underachieving Roberto Kelly in one of many bad Bowden trades.
4. Kal Daniels
Years with Reds: 1986-89
Reds statistics:.301 batting average, 52 home runs, 160 RBI, 228 runs, 74 stolen bases
The Skinny: One of the greatest what-should-have-been players perhaps in Reds history. He is largely forgotten because he played here only briefly and because he was so miserable defensively in left field. But the man could hit - both for average and for power.
In 1987, Daniels had the third-best adjusted on-base plus slugging percentage in team history in the modern era, behind only Joe Morgan in 1976 and Frank Robinson in 1972. That season, Daniels hit .334, had a .617 slugging percentage and had a .429 on-base percentage. The next season, in a career-high 140 games, he hit .291 with a .463 slugging percentage and .397 on-base percentage, scored 95 runs and stole 27 bases while being caught attempting to steal just six times.
3. Bobby Tolan
Years with Reds: 1969-73
Reds statistics:.282 batting average, 54 home runs, 306 RBI, 346 runs, 140 stolen bases
The Skinny: Whenever the conversation comes around to great five-tool players in Reds history, Tolan should be in the conversation but rarely is. That's thanks in part to some injury issues that cut short his career.
He appeared headed for superstardom after coming to the Reds from the St. Louis Cardinals before the 1969 season and was part of the first wave of the Big Red Machine. From 1969-71, Tolan hit better than .300 twice and averaged 101 runs, 15 homers, 85 RBI and 42 stolen bases in those three seasons.
2. Vada Pinson
Years with Reds: 1958-68
Reds statistics:.297 batting average, 186 home runs, 814 RBI, 978 runs, 221 stolen bases
The Skinny: Ask someone to name the top 10 Reds hitters and you'll be hard-pressed to find anyone who will name Pinson, but he should be among the first five mentioned. He was overshadowed at times by teammates Frank Robinson and Pete Rose.
Pinson is the only player to rank in the top-10 in Reds history in hits (seventh), runs (seventh), doubles (fifth), triples (fifth), homers (10th), RBI (10th) and stolen bases (10th). He was a model of consistency who could be penciled in for a .300 average and about 190 hits, 35 doubles, 10 triples, 20 homers, 90 RBI and 20 stolen bases every year, but he was selected for only two All-Star teams. He also was a great defensive player and won a Gold Glove.
1. Adam Dunn
Years with Reds: 2001-2008
Reds statistics:.247 batting average, 270 home runs, 646 RBI., 676 runs, .380 on-base percentage
The Skinny: Dunn one day will be remembered as one of the best offensive players in team history, but for now, in the minds of many, he embodies all that has been wrong with the Reds the past few years.
He is fourth in club history in homers and could have become the all-time leader within four seasons. If he finishes this season with 40 homers and 100 walks, Dunn will become the second player in major-league history to have five straight such seasons (Barry Bonds is the other). Dunn also is one of six players in the majors the last four seasons to drive in at least 90 runs and score 90 runs each year.
There are more numbers to back up the argument for Dunn, but plenty of folks already made up their mind about him.