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Cincinnati Reds Trivia
Great Eight Trivia

The 1975-1976 Reds had a star-studded starting lineup called the "Great Eight" that was the best of all time when offense, defense, baserunning and intangibles like hustle, versatility, clutch play and intimidation are considered. Members of the Great Eight collected six MVP awards, four home run titles, three batting titles, 26 Gold Gloves and a staggering 65 All-Star selections. That's an average of eight All-Star appearances per starter! Incredibly, seven of the Great Eight made the 1976 NL all-star team. The only Reds starter who didn't make the All-Star team that year, center fielder Cesar Gerónimo, hit .307, won a Gold Glove, and finished 25th in the MVP voting despite hitting eighth in the lineup! Furthermore, the 1975-1976 Reds were one of the best defensive and base-stealing teams of all time. The "slash lines" below are batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage/OPS. An asterisk means the player is in the Baseball Hall of Fame, or should be. A plus sign means the player was well above average for his position. A minus sign would mean that the player was below average, but you won't find any weak spots in this stellar lineup:

*C Johnny Bench was the greatest catcher ever in his prime years, both offensively and defensively, and despite a plethora of injuries due to his position, he remains the Reds' all-time leader in homers, RBI and Gold Gloves (ten)

*1B Tony Pérez was one of the greatest run producers ever, finishing with 1,652 RBI (more than legendary sluggers like Mike Schmidt, Rogers Hornsby, Joe DiMaggio, Tris Speaker, Mickey Mantle and Harmon Killebrew)

*2B Joe Morgan was the greatest all-round second baseman ever; the 1976 NL MVP hit .320/.444/.576/1.020 with 27 homers, 111 RBI, 113 runs, 114 walks and 62 stolen bases; he also won five Gold Gloves

*SS Dave Concepción was the most complete shortstop of his era, with speed, defense, athleticism and a potent bat for his position (slugging .401, 25th in the NL); he was an all-star nine times and won five Gold Gloves

*3B Pete Rose is the all-time hits leader; in 1976 he had a banner year, batting .323/.404/.450/.854 with 215 hits, 130 runs, 42 doubles, 86 walks and 299 total bases while leading off!; he also won two Gold Gloves

*LF George Foster aka "the Destroyer" was the most feared slugger of his era; in 1976 he hit .306/.364/.530/.894 with 29 homers and led all MLB with 121 RBI; he was second only to Morgan in slugging percentage

+RF Ken Griffey Sr. was a .336 hitter with speed (34 stolen bases) and power (.851 OPS); in 1976 he missed the NL batting title by an eyelash and his .336/.401/.450/.851 slash line was nearly identical to Rose's

+CF Cesar Gerónimo was a great defensive player with a cannon-like arm and outstanding speed; in 1976 he hit .307/.382/.414/.795 with 201 total bases and 22 steals; he also won four consecutive Gold Gloves

Reds Trivia: One of the Great Eight led the Reds in WAR for twelve of thirteen years, from 1968 to 1980. The only exception was Lee May in 1971, with 5.4 WAR. But May was traded for Joe Morgan, who led the Reds in WAR for the next five consecutive years, nearly doubling May's total each time.

Reds Trivia: George "the Destroyer" Foster was the last major league baseball player to hit 50 home runs prior to the steroid era, with 52 homers in 1977. From 1966 to 1997, a span of more than three decades, Foster was the only National League player to hit 50 or more home runs. Foster did it with natural muscle and bat speed. Does he remain the last baseball player to hit 50 homers honestly?

Reds Trivia: In 1976, five of the Great Eight batted .300 or better. Two that didn't are Hall of Famers known more for slugging and RBIs—Pérez and Bench. The other was Concepción, who led all NL shortstops in batting average, hits, homers, RBI, OBP, slugging percentage and OPS.

The 1976 Reds are the only team to go undefeated in the postseason since the league playoffs were added in 1969. The first team after the Reds to lose only one game was the Detroit Tigers of 1984, who were also managed by George "Sparky" Anderson!

The 1975-1976 Reds won 210 regular season games, averaging 105 wins per year, but never had a pitcher win more than 15 games.

The 1975 Reds set a record by only playing 29 different players in a 162-game season. They were very "stable."

Reds Trivia: According to Elias, only once in the history of the MVP award has a winner played 10 or more games at three different positions. Johnny Bench, the 1970 National League MVP, played more than 10 games at catcher, first base and left field. That season Bench also played third base (1), right field (6) and center field (2). Pete Rose was the most versatile superstar in MLB history; he is the only baseball player to play 500 or more games at five different positions (1B, 2B, 3B, RF, LF) and he was an all-star 17 times at those positions and was even a player-manager. Tony Pérez was a four-time all-star at third base, and a three-time all-star at first base. During his hall-of-fame career, Joe Morgan played four positions (2B, 3B, LF, RF). Cesar Gerónimo also played four positions (CF, LF, RF, DH). George Foster played five positions (LF, RF, CF, 1B, DH). Dave Concepción played five positions (SS, 2B, 3B, 1B, P) as did Ken Griffey Sr. (RF, LF, CF, 1B, DH). So the Great Eight were remarkably versatile defenders. How many teams have had five starters trusted with playing center field, as the Reds did with Gerónimo, Rose, Griffey, Foster and Bench? And Dan Driessen, the Reds' best bench player, played four positions (1B, 3B, RF, LF).

Reds Trivia: Johnny Bench is not thought of as a speed merchant, but in 1975-1976 he stole 24 bases in 26 attempts.

Reds Trivia: Pete Rose is not thought of as a home run hitter, but he broke the NL record for home runs hit by a switch hitter, previously held by Rip Collins with 135. Rose finished his career with 160 home runs, hitting ten or more home runs in eight different seasons, with a high mark of sixteen (twice).

Reds Trivia: When Joe Morgan recorded his 100th RBI in 1976, he joined a very select group of NL second basemen who had driven in 100 runs: Rogers Hornsby, Frankie Frisch and Jackie Robinson.

Reds Trivia: Dan Driessen was one of the best defensive first basemen in MLB history; his career fielding percentage at first base (.995) is better than that of any first baseman in the Hall of Fame!

Reds Trivia: Cesar Gerónimo had the unhappy distinction of being the 3,000th strikeout victim of both Bob Gibson and Nolan Ryan.

Old Dogs, New Tricks: Here's an interesting Reds trivia question: Which two players in the modern era had the highest on-base percentages at age 43 or older? Answer: Pete Rose (.364) and Tony Pérez (.363) in a virtual tie. Rose also had two of the top ten batting averages of all time for players age 43 and older. Pérez has the highest slugging percentage (.410) for such players. Rose and Pérez rank in the top ten in nearly every major batting category for players age 43 and older. If we expand the category to players age 40 and over, Rose leads all players in the modern era in games, at bats, plate appearances, hits, walks, times on base, singles, doubles, triples, total bases and runs created. And he ranks in the top ten in nearly every category other than homers and slugging. It seems safe to say that Pete Rose was, overall, the greatest player of the modern era from age 40 to retirement.

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