Top 10 Best Cincinnati Reds Players of All Time

Top 10 Best Cincinnati Reds Players of All Time

Based in Cincinnati, Ohio, Reds Baseball boasts some of the most historic and impressive players in the MLB. Founded in 1882, the Reds have won nine National League Pennants and five World Series Titles. If you are wondering what a truly historic baseball team looks like, this list of the greatest Reds players of all time is for you.

Who Are the Best Cincinnati Reds Baseball Players of All Time?

  1. Pete Rose
  2. Johnny Bench
  3. Joe Morgan
  4. Frank Robinson
  5. Barry Larkin
  6. Edd Roush
  7. Joey Votto
  8. Tony Perez
  9. Ernie Lombardi
  10. Vada Pinson

1. Pete Rose

  • Two-time MVP
  • 17-time All-Star
  • Two-time Golden Glove winner

Though former Hall of Famer Pete Rose’s name has been greatly tarnished by the MLB betting scandal that eventually resulted in his Hall of Fame status being revoked, he is still the greatest Cincinnati Red to play the game. Rose holds the record for most all-time hits, at 4,256, in all of Major League Baseball, a record he established in 1985. This Red’s first baseman won two consecutive World Series (three total), with the team, in 1975 and 1976. In the 1975 World Series against the Boston Red Sox, Pete Rose had 59 hits and was named Series MVP.

Rose was also known for his speed on the bases. He was impressively successful at steals over half of the time and boasts 198 total career steals. Pete Rose also won 1963 Rookie of the Year, and his number (14) is retired by Reds Baseball. Pete Rose may never be remembered as the most ethical Cincinnati Red, but he will certainly be remembered as a great one.

2. Johnny Bench

  • Two-time MVP
  • 13 straight All-Star appearances (14 total)
  • 10 Golden Gloves

Johnny Bench is one of the best catchers in Major League Baseball history. Johnny Bench leads the Cincinnati Reds in home runs, with 389. He also ranks runner up in the most MLB home runs for a catcher. In RBIs for catchers, Bench is third in the league; in runs, he’s fourth. Johnny Bench was a teammate to at least two other Reds greats, Joe Morgan and Pete Rose.

Despite the great talent he was surrounded by, Bench stood out as a fantastic baseball player. Johnny Bench led the iconic “Big Red Machine” of the 1970s Reds’ as a starting catcher, a key player in capturing two back-to-back World Series in 1975 and 1976, but also won in 1970 and 1972. Bench finished his career with 1,376 RBIs and 2,048 hits. There are few baseball players more renowned than Johnny Bench and even fewer to sit behind the plate, one of the most important and difficult to master positions on the field.

3. Joe Morgan

  • Five Golden Gloves
  • Eight-time All-Star
  • 1975 and 1976 National League MVP

Joe Morgan, another player on this list who was part of the “Big Red Machine” in the 1970s, only played eight seasons for the Cincinnati Reds. All eight were, however, nothing short of remarkable. From 1972 to 1979, Morgan etched himself into Reds history at second base. In 1975, the Reds were tied in game seven of the World Series. Morgan hit a single that allowed Ken Griffey to touch the home plate, bringing in the winning run.

During the year of his first MVP win, also 1975, Morgan received a 12.0 WAR. In 1990, Morgan was elected into the Cooperstown, New York Baseball Hall of Fame as one of the most prolific second basemen to ever play the sport professionally.

4. Frank Robinson

  • Only baseball player to win MVP in both American and National leagues
  • Led the MLB in runs his rookie season, 122
  • Rookie of the Year in 1956

Frank Robinson played outfield and first base for the Cincinnati Reds from 1956 to 1965. In perhaps one of the worst trades in the Reds’ history, Robinson left in 1965. The next year he went on to win a Triple Crown and MVP. Five years later, he defeated Cincinnati in the World Series as a Baltimore Oriole.

Robinson played for five different MLB teams, the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels, and Indians, but is best known for his time in Cincinnati and Baltimore. He chose to enter the Hall of Fame as an Oriole when he was inducted in 1982. Robinson’s career after hanging up his jersey as an athlete is impressive, too. He became the first Black manager in the MLB for Ohio’s other baseball team, the Cleveland Indians. Robinson also worked for 12 years in the commissioner’s office as Executive Vice President of Baseball Development.

5. Barry Larkin

  • 1990 World Series champion
  • Eight-time Silver Slugger
  • Three-time Golden Glove

Barry Larkin played all 19 years of his career as a Cincinnati Red. He scored 960 RBIs for the Reds and totaled 2,340 hits. Shockingly, Larkin only played 120 games in 19 seasons. This Reds shortstop started from 1990 to 2000, before an elbow injury cut short his full potential. Larkin was the first shortstop to steal 30 bases and smack 30 home runs in a single season.

In 2012, Larkin was inducted into the Hall of Fame. In part, for winning the Lou Gehrig Award and Roberto Clemente Award, both awards given for sportsmanship, integrity, and character. It's difficult to confidently say where Barry Larkin would rank on this list, and many others, had he had the chance to play a long and healthy career.

6. Edd Roush

  • 1917 and 1919 World Series champion
  • Averaged a .331 batting average, second-best in franchise history
  • Hall of Fame player

Edd Roush is a historic legend of the MLB who played from 1913 to 1931. Roush has been called the American League’s Ty Cobb because he is one of the oldest and best players Major League Baseball has seen. In 1917, Roush held the National League’s batting title while playing for the Reds.

Roush was a member of the Reds team that conquered the “Black Sox” in the 1919 World Series. Major League Baseball is not a sport without scandals, but the 1919 White Sox are possibly the biggest of those scandals, allegedly throwing the 1919 series in favor of winning bets. Regardless of the gambling scandal, Roush batted 2,376 hits throughout his career and 1,099 runs. Until Roush’s final season, he never hit below a .321 batting average.

7. Joey Votto

  • 2010 MVP
  • Leads the Reds in walks, intentional walks, and on-base percentage
  • 342 career home runs

Joey Votto, who started his career in 2007, is the only Red on this list still actively playing Major League Baseball. Currently starting at first base for the Cincinnati Reds, he holds the record of intentional walks (147), walks (1,294), and on-base percentage (.416) for the Reds’ historic team.

Votto, originally from Canada, also won a Golden Glove in 2011. Votto is only 47 home runs behind Johnny Bench and may well break this Reds record before retirement. Joey Votto has not yet won a World Series with the Reds, something he hopes to do before retirement.

8. Tony Perez

  • Played on the “Big Red Machine” legendary Reds team
  • Seven-time All-Star
  • Three World Series wins (two as a player and one as a coach)

Tony Perez played first and third base for the Big Red Machine, and doing so, he was part of the two World Series wins in 1975 and 1976. This infielder holds fourth place on the Cincinnati Reds’ list of most all-time home runs. During Perez’s career with the Reds, he was known for being more valuable than even his statistics could demonstrate.

He was the “behind the scenes” leader that kept the Big Red a well-oiled machine. This became clear quickly after his trade when the Reds were missing out on more than just his 1,192 RBIs and 1,934 hits. Perez’s nickname says a lot about the type of player he was; “Mr. Clutch” always came through for his teammates when they needed him most. After Perez retired as an athlete, he continued his career with the Reds as a coach. In 1990, Perez collected his third Reds World Series while coaching.

9. Ernie Lombardi

  • Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1986
  • National League MVP
  • Two-time National League Batting Title winner

Despite being a “big man” catcher, Lombardi was known more for his batting average than his power hitting. Lombardi exceeded a .300 batting average 10 different seasons, holding a .306 average throughout his career. Winning two batting titles is no easy feat, and Lombardi’s record of two held at best in his field position for a long time until Joe Mauer came along in 2009.

From 1936 to 1940, Lombardi caught in All-Star games each year. Lombardi was part of Reds teams that won a pennant in 1939 and a World Series in 1940. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1986.

10. Vada Pinson

  • Golden Glove winner
  • Four-time All-Star
  • 305 career steals

Vada Pinson never received the honor of being inducted into the Cooperstown Baseball Hall of Fame, which many people believe is an enormous snub; however, he is in the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame. Pinson played outfield for the Reds from 1958 to 1968, a baseball era where outfielders were plentiful and spectacular.

Some of his contemporaries in the position are names like Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, and Roberto Clemente. Despite this, he led the National League two times in putouts and fielding percentage. Though outshined in ways by the other greats of his time, Pinson was an outstanding centerfielder and deserves recognition as one of the greatest Reds of all time.

Honorable Mentions

  • Bid McPhee
  • Bucky Walters
  • Dave Concepción
  • Dolf Luque
  • Eppa Rixey
  • Eric Davis
  • Ewell Blackwell
  • George Foster
  • Heinie Groh
  • Jim Maloney
  • José Rijo
  • Ken Griffey Jr.
  • Noodles Hahn
  • Ted Klusewski


Who is the best Cincinnati Reds player of all time?

The best Cincinnati Reds player of all time is Pete Rose. Despite his involvement in a betting scandal, Pete Rose is still a two-time MVP, a Golden Glove winner, and a 17-time All-Star. Most impressively, Rose holds the MLB record for one of the most important statistics in the game, hits. Rose reached 4,256 hits in 1985. He also won three World Series with the Reds. Regardless of his questionable gambling history, Pete Rose’s jersey has been retired by the Reds.

Which Cincinnati Reds player holds the record for most home runs?

Johnny Bench holds the Reds’ record for most home runs. Famous Red, Johnny Bench, is indisputably one of the best catchers Major League Baseball has ever seen. With 389 home runs, Bench holds the Reds’ record in this impressive statistic. Current Reds player, Joey Votto, is close on his tail with 342 home runs. Bench was a leader on the historic Cincinnati “Big Red Machine” team of the 1970s. He is honored in the Cooperstown Hall of Fame as one of the greats of the All-American sport of Baseball.