5 Cincinnati Reds Who Could Have Been Hall of Famers
The Cincinnati Reds have a total of 10 players who entered the Hall of Fame wearing the team's cap.
According to Baseball-Reference.com, a total of 34 former Reds have entered the Hall of Fame, the other 24 entering as members of other teams.
The recent Hall of Fame induction and the ever popular Pete Rose debate led me to this "what could have been" article.
There's always "what if's" in sports, and the Hall of Fame debate is no exception.
For the sake of clarity, players who made this list would have gone into the Hall of Fame as members of the Cincinnati Reds, so there will be no mention of Scott Rolen, John Franco or others who played just a short time with the team.
Pete Rose (1963-1986)
No matter what Hall of Fame discussion you're having, Pete Rose seems to always sneak into the conversation, and for good reason.
Here's a short list of Rose's accolades from his playing days (For more, see his website).
- All-time leader in hits, at bats, plate appearances and games played
- 1963 ROTY
- 1973 NL MVP
- 17x All-Star
- 3x NL batting champ
Rose played an incredible 24 seasons as a major leaguer and there's no denying that he's one of the best players to ever pick up a bat.
Unfortunately, Rose broke what is arguably baseball's most sacred rule, never bet on the game.
Rose denied gambling allegations for years until the Dowd Report confirmed the rumors. Rose accepted a lifetime ban from Major League Baseball to avoid further embarrassment but continued to deny his having gambled on baseball.
It wasn't until 2004 that Rose finally owned up to his actions when he admitted to betting on baseball in his book My Prison Without Bars.
However, not even a full admission could earn Rose re-admission. It seems that Rose's only hope is that a Commissioner, whether it be Bud Selig or a future Commissioner, lift his lifetime ban.
It's an unfortunate reality that Rose may never live to see election into the Hall of Fame. However, the entire situation could have been avoided if he had just never bet on baseball.
Career stat line: .303/.375/.409, 4256 hits, 160 HR, 135 3B, 746 2B, 1314 RBI, 2165 runs, 76.7 WAR
Eric Davis (1984-2001)
Eric Davis is one of the most dynamic players in the history of the Cincinnati Reds, maybe even all of Major League Baseball.
Davis's problem was that he couldn't stay healthy long enough to play more than 132 games in a single season.
His best season came in 1987, Davis's age 25 season, when he slashed .293/.399/.593 with 37 home runs, 100 RBI, 120 runs scored and 50 stolen bases (per baseballreference.com).
What's incredible about his '87 season is the fact that Davis only played 129 games that year. Davis averaged a home run every 12.8 at bats. Additionally, he was averaging roughly 3.6 at bats per game. Calculated out over the 33 games he missed, Davis would have finished the season with roughly 46 home runs.
Davis's '87 season would have been the first time in big league history that a player hit 40 home runs and stole 40 bases in a single season (see 40-40 club).
Davis finished his career with 282 home runs and 349 stolen bases.
Over his 17-year career, Davis played just 1626 games. Playing every game of a 17-year career would account for 2754 games.
Accounting for some basic days off and injury throughout his career, it's reasonable to assume that Davis could have played 2,500 games. Calculating out his per-game averages out over 2,500 games provides for 433 home runs, 536 stolen bases, 1436 RBI and 1442 runs scored.
Given these numbers, Davis is a sure fire Hall of Famer. Additionally, Davis would have been one of only two members of baseball's 400-400 club, the other is Barry Bonds.
A true five-tool player, Davis had all the makings of a Hall of Fame player if only he could have stayed healthy.
Career stat line: .269/.359/.482, 1430 hits, 282 HR, 26 3B, 239 2B, 349 SB, 934 RBI, 938 runs, 33.4 WAR
Will White (1877-1886)
Will White is an intriguing player. Although he only pitched in 10 seasons, White was able to amass 229 wins with a .580 winning percentage.
White's career stat line includes a 229-166 record with a 2.28 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP.
Interestingly enough, White had three seasons where he started a combined eight games. Therefore, White earned 226 of his 229 wins in seven seasons.
Of those seven seasons where White started more than three games, he was able to win 40 or more games in three of them. Additionally, White had three seasons where he finished with an ERA below 2.00.
The best year of White's career came in 1883. White finished the season with a 43-22 record, a 2.09 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP. White led the league in both wins and ERA that season adding to his already impressive stat line.
The incredible part of White's '83 season is the fact that the team played only 98 games that year. By starting in 64 games, White accounted for 65 percent of the team's starts that season.
More impressive than starting in 65 percent of the team's games, White won 43.8 percent of the team's games and accounted for 70 percent of the team's win total that season.
White retired after the 1886 season at just 31 years old.
A few more seasons, or even if he had started more in any of his three seasons with three or less starts, White would have finished with 300 wins.
At the time, that would have made White one of the win-ingest pitchers in baseball history.
Career stat line: 229-166 record, 3542 IP, 2.28 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 1041 K, 496 BB, 35.7 WAR
Vada Pinson (1958-1975)
Vada Pinson should be in the Hall of Fame, there's really no way around that.
The only thing holding Pinson back is that he played in an era dominated by some of the best outfielders in the history of Major League Baseball.
Between 1958 and 1975, baseball fans were treated to the likes of Hank Aaron, Duke Snider, Roberto Clemente, Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris and Willie Mays among others.
From 1958-1965, Pinson wasn't even the best outfielder on his own team, Frank Robinson was. However, Pinson shouldn't be denied admission into the Hall of Fame because of these factors.
Pinson has the numbers of a Hall of Famer.
In 2496 career games, Pinson compiled a .286/.327/.442 slash line with 256 home runs, 485 doubles, 127 triples, 1170 RBI, 1336 runs and 305 stolen bases.
Pinson is one of only 21 other players to post a season in which he compiled 200 hits, 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases (per baseball-reference.com).
Pinson is the youngest player to accomplish this feat in a single season (20 years old) and also the only of those 22 players to do it more than once. Pinson actually did this three times over the course of his career (1953, '65, '69).
Another interesting fact about Pinson, there are only 11 players in Major League Baseball history to reach 2500 hits 500 doubles, 100 triples and 200 home runs.
Though Pinson is 15 doubles short of this milestone, he is in rare company with his stat line.
Pinson is one of only two players with at least 2700 hits, 450 doubles, 100 triples and 250 home runs. The only other player to accomplish this feat is Willie Mays (per MLB.com).
There is a such thing as meaningless stat combinations but this is hardly one of them.
Whether or not Pinson ever gets in the Hall of Fame is certainly up for debate. However, there's no denying that he could've been inducted had he not played in an era dominated by some of the all-time great outfielders.
Career stat line: .286/.327/.442, 2757 hits, 256 HR, 127 3B, 485 2B, 305 SB, 1170 RBI, 1366 runs, 50.2 WAR
Dave Concepcion (1970-1988)
Like Pete Rose, and Vada Pinson, Dave Concepcion should be a Hall of Famer.
Concepcion played his entire 19 year career with the Reds and finished with a .267/.322/.357 slash line, 2326 hits, 101 home runs, 950 RBI, 993 runs scored and 321 stolen bases.
His offensive numbers are comparable to Ozzie Smith's.
This is where Concepcion ranked in several key statistics among shortstops at the time of his retirement.
- Hits (7th)
- Doubles (7th)
- RBI (12th)
- Stolen bases (17th)
- Home runs (16th)
Two things hindered Concepcion's chances at making the Hall of Fame.
The first being that three members of the Big Red Machine have already made the Hall of Fame (Johnny Bench, Tony Perez, Joe Morgan). Voters have never been keen on electing multiple members of a team who played in the same era.
Additionally, Concepcion ran into the buzz-saw that was Ozzie Smith.
In his day, Concepcion was a Gold Glove winning shortstop. Between 1970 and 1979, Concepcion won five Gold Glove Awards (per Baseball-reference.com).
Once Smith hit the scene in 1978, the chances of winning a Gold Glove at shortstop decreased greatly.
Concepcion had the seasons to win at least eight Gold Glove Awards. Even so, only three shortstops with five or more Gold Gloves are not in the Hall of Fame, they are Derek Jeter, Omar Vizquel and Mark Belanger (per baseball-almanac.com).
Jeter and Vizquel are not Hall of Fame eligible and Belanger's offensive statistics are horrible.
Compared to other shortstops, Concepcion is certainly a Hall of Famer, but the additional Gold Gloves he could have won would have sealed it for him.
Career stat line: .267/.322/.357, 2326 hits, 101 HR, 48 3B, 389 2B, 321 SB, 950 RBI, 993 runs, 36.5 WAR