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Best of Hal: Top 25 Cincinnati Reds All-Stars

In 2015, Hal McCoy was in his 40th year of being the team’s beat writer. To mark the return of the Major League All-Star game to Cincinnati that season, Hal listed his top 25 Reds All-Stars up until that season. With pitchers  and catchers reporting soon, here’s Hal’s list. 

Read Hal’s Reds Blog: The Real McCoy

1. JOHNNY BENCH

Position: Catcher 

All-Star selections: 14 (1968, 69, 1970, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 1980, 83) 

Hal’s take: Did he invent the catching position? It seems that way because he is the best I’ve ever seen and probably ever will see.

2. PETE ROSE

Position: 2B, OF, 3B 
All-Star selections: 17 (1965, 67, 68, 69, 1970, 71, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81, 82, 85) 
Hal’s take: He played every game as if it was an All-Star Game, and nobody ever played the game harder and got the most out of his ability

3. TONY PEREZ

Position: 3B, 1B 
All-Star selections: 7 (1967, 68, 69, 1970, 74, 75, 76) 
Hal’s take: The best clutch hitter I ever saw, and as former manager Dave Bristol said, “If there is a way to win a baseball game, Tony Perez will find it.”

4. JOE MORGAN

Position: 2B 
All-Star selections: 10 (1966, 1970, 1972, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79) 
Hal’s take: Little Joe was Big Joe on the baseball field and there was nothing in the game he couldn’t do and do it better than most.

5. MARIO SOTO

Position: SP 
All-Star selections: 3 (1982, 83, 84) 
Hal’s take: Maybe the best Reds pitcher I ever covered and got people out with only two pitches, a fastball and a changeup, and batters had difficulty hitting either pitch.

Former Reds Barry Larkin (11), Eric Davis (44) and Paul O'Neill pose with the World Series trophy during a 25th anniversary celebration of the 1990 World Series championship on Friday, April 24, 2015, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. David Jablonski/Staff (HANDOUT/David Jablonski/Staff)

6.ERIC DAVIS

Position: OF All-Star selections: 2 (1987, 89) 
Hal’s take: A five-tool playerwho would be in the Hall of Fame right now had he not played so hard that injuries slowed him down.

7. GEORGE FOSTER

Position: OF 
All-Star selections: 5 (1976, 77, 78, 79, 1981) 
Hal’s take: The most underrated member of the Big Red Machine and one of the strongest players I ever covered.

8. BARRY LARKIN

Position: SS 
All-Star selections: 12 (1988, 89, 1990, 91, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 99, 2000, 04) 
Hal’s take: Helped redefine shortstop from just a defensive position to an offensive and defensive position.

9. KEN GRIFFEY JR.

Position: OF 
All-Star selections: 13 (1990, 91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99, 2000, 04, 07) 
Hal’s take: Most of his stardom came as a member of the Seattle Mariners, but The Kid was a great player for the Reds when injuries didn’t curtail his play.

10. JOSE RIJO

Position: SP 
All-Star selections: 1 (1994) 
Hal’s take: Not only a great pitcher but also one of the most popular players ever with both the fans and the media.

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11. DAVE CONCEPCION

Position: SS 

All-Star selections: 9 (1973, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 1980, 81, 82,) 
Hal’s take: Should be in the Hall of Fame because he was the best shortstop of his era and learned how to hit in the clutch in the later stages of his career.

12. KEN GRIFFEY SR.

Position: OF 
All-Star selections: 3 (1976, 77, 1980) 
Hal’s take: Wasn’t as good as his illustrious son, but he was an excellent hitter with exceptional speed and a solid hitter for average, though not as powerful as his more famous son.

13. CHRIS SABO

Position: 3B 
All-Star selections: 3(1988,1990,91) 
Hal’s take: Spuds McKenzie and his goggles was a fan favorite and marched not only to the beat of a different drummer, but he was the drummer and a solid third baseman with good pop in his bat for a little guy.

14. SEAN CASEY

Position: 1B
All-Star selections: 3(1999,2001,04)
Hal’s take: The Mayor may have been the most popular player to the fans of any guy to wear a Reds uniform and was an accomplished singles and doubles hitter who was a human rain delay with all the antics he went through between pitches at the plate.

15. DANNY GRAVES

Position: RP
All-Star selections: 2 (2000, 04)
Hal’s take: The Baby Assassin was a standout closer who got by more on guts than stuff, although his stuff was unhittable when he was on, which was most of the time.6

16. JOHN FRANCO

Position: RP
All-Star selections: 4 (1986, 87, 89, 1990)
Hal’s take: Made more of a name for himself as a New York Met after he was with the Reds but was baseball’s best closer at both venues with a circle change-up that mesmerized hitters.

The Reds' Joey Votto pauses after sliding back into second base against the Cardinals on Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2016, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. (David Jablonski/Staff) (David Jablonski/Staff)

17. JOEY VOTTO

Position: 1B
All-Star selections: 4 (2010, 11, 12, 13)
Hal’s take: No man can get on base as often as he does via the walk and a near .300 batting average every year. He made himself into a solid defensive first baseman after signing as a catcher.

18. ROB DIBBLE

Position: RP
All-Star selections: 2 (1990, 91)
Hal’s take: The most famous of The Nasty Boys (Norm Charlton, Randy Myers, Dibble) because of his 100 mph fastball and his volatile temperament.

19, NORM CHARLTON

Position: RP
All-Star selections: 1 (1992)
Hal’s take: The Professor, a three-major student at Rice University, did it all for the Reds — start, middle relief, set-up and closing — and did them all at a high level.

20. BRANDON PHILLIPS

Position: 2B
All-Star selections: 3 (2010, 11,13)
Hal’s take: The best defensive second baseman I’ve seen, a master at incredibly flashy plays and a guy who can bat effectively anywhere in the order.

21. TOM SEAVER

Position: SP
All-Starselections: 12 (1967,68,69, 1970,71,72,73,75,76,77,78,81)
Hal’s take: Known most notably as a New York Met but made the All-Star team three of the four years he was with the Reds and was nearly as good with the Reds in his later years as he was with the Mets in his early years.

22. SCOTT ROLEN

Position: 3B
All-Star selections: 7 (2002, 03, 04, 05, 06, 2010, 11)
Hal’s take: The best defensive third basemen I ever saw. Although he didn’t hit as well as he had with the Cardinals and Phillies, his glove never abandoned him and he made the All-Star team twice during his short tenure with the Reds.

Reds catcher Brayan Pena, left, and closer Aroldis Chapman shake hands after beating the Nationals on Saturday, July 26, 2014, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. (David Jablonski)

23. AROLDIS CHAPMAN

Position: RP
All-Starselections: 3 (2012, 13, 14)
Hal’s take: His career is short but his legacy is implanted via his 100- to 105-mph fastball. He’s on pace to becoming baseball’s best closer, if he isn’t already.

24. CLAY CARROLL

Position: RP
All-Star selections: 2 (1971, 72)
Hal’s take: The Hawk was an early-day closer, just when closers became in vogue and was reliable in pitching more than one inning to get his saves.

25. JAY BRUCE

Position: OF
All-Star selections: 2 (2011, 12)
Hal’s take: A two-time All-Star who plays both side of the ball with his powerful arm and defensive dexterity, plus displays power and streaks when he carries the Reds.

Contact Hal at Halmccoy1@hotmail.com.

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