I am a former sports editor and currently serve as a historian with the Society of American Baseball Research and manage a valet operation.
Who Are the Best Home Run Hitters in Cincinnati Reds History?
When it comes to power hitters for the Cincinnati Reds, most fans immediately think of the "Big Red Machine" dynasty of the 1970s. Those Reds teams won six division titles, four National League pennants, and two World Series championships, thanks in large part to a potent lineup that featured stars from top to bottom. But the history of the home run hitting in Cincinnati goes far beyond the best 10-year stretch in franchise history and has continued into today's game. With multiple Hall of Famers and some of the best short-term sluggers in baseball history, this list of the top five home run hitters in Cincinnati Reds history has a lot to offer.
These rankings are not based upon opinions, and for a player to be considered, he must have hit at least 100 home runs during his time with the White Sox. Players were then ranked by averaging their rank for both of these criterion:
- Total home runs with the Reds
- Plate appearances per home run with the Reds
Following the top five are the best of the rest, a handful of shorter lists of franchise leaders in more defined categories, and franchise home run records. Information from Stathead on Baseball Reference was used to compile statistics.
Note: Ranks in parenthesis in individual player capsules represent their ranking among players who hit at least 100 home runs with the Reds. ... Statistics are current through the end of the 2021 season.
5. Eric Davis
- Years Played: 1984–91, '96
- Home Runs: 203 (10th)
- Plate Appearances/Home Run: 18.81 (3rd)
- Single-Season High: 37 in 1987
Had Eric Davis been able to stay healthy throughout his career, he very well could have landed higher on this list. Davis was one the most well-rounded players in all of baseball in the late 1980s, earning All-Star selections and Silver Sluggers in '87 and '89 but never playing more than 139 games. He recorded more than 20 home runs each year from 1986 to '90, and "Eric the Red" homered in his first World Series at-bat in 1990, setting the tone for Cincinnati's sweep of the Oakland Athletics.
4. Johnny Bench
- Years Played: 1967–83
- Home Runs: 389 (1st)
- Plate Appearances/Home Run: 22.30 (11th)
- Single-Season High: 45 in 1970
A power-hitting catcher the likes of Johnny Bench had never been seen in Major League Baseball, and his power and leadership propelled the "Big Red Machine" dynasty of the 1970s. When Bench retired, he had the most home runs of any catcher in history, and he still holds Cincinnati's overall career franchise record. Bench led the National League in home runs twice (45 in 1970 and 40 in '72) and was a 14-time All-Star selection. He had at least 20 home runs in 11 of 12 seasons from 1969 to '80, making him one of the greatest sluggers in all of baseball during the 1970s.
3. Ken Griffey Jr.
- Years Played: 2000–08
- Home Runs: 210 (9th)
- Plate Appearances/Home Run: 18.59 (2nd)
- Single-Season High: 40 in 2000
Ken Griffey Jr. grew up as the son of one of the key contributors to Cincinnati's "Big Red Machine" teams of the 1970s, so when he became a free agent after the 1999 season, it wasn't surprising when he came to the Reds from the Seattle Mariners. Griffey was arguably the best player in baseball at the time and had led the American League in home runs in three straight seasons—but injuries spoiled much of his tenure in Cincinnati. He hit 40 home runs and made the first of three All-Star appearances with the Reds in 2000, but he wouldn't play a full season again until 2007. Even so, he hit at least 20 home runs in six of his first eight years and was on his way to a seventh before he was traded to the Chicago White Sox for the stretch run of the 2008 campaign.
2. Frank Robinson
- Years Played: 1956–1965
- Home Runs: 324 (3rd)
- Plate Appearances/Home Run: 19.78 (6th)
- Single-Season High: 38 in 1956
Frank Robinson burst onto the scene in 1956, winning National League Rookie of the Year honors after hitting .290 and swatting 38 home runs (which at the time tied the all-time rookie record). He wouldn't stop there, hitting 29 or more home runs in eight of the next nine seasons to round out a tremendous 10-year tenure with the Reds. He garnered eight All-Star selections during that time and was the 1961 NL MVP (Robinson went on to become a big slugger in Baltimore from 1966–71 and became the first player to win MVP awards in both leagues). Robinson was an easy choice for the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982 and his No. 20 is retired by the Reds (as well as the Orioles and the Cleveland Indians).
1. Adam Dunn
- Years Played: 2001–08
- Home Runs: 270 (5th)
- Plate Appearances/Home Run: 16.90 (1st)
- Single-Season High: 46 in 2004
Adam Dunn was listed at 6-foot-6, 285 pounds, so it's no shock that he was a home run hitter. Dunn debuted in 2001 as a 21-year-old and hit 19 home runs in 66 games, which was just a small sample of what the slugger would become. Dunn had five straight seasons with 40 or more home runs from 2004 to '08 (all but eight came with the Reds; he was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks for the stretch run in 2008). His four seasons with 40+ homers in Cincinnati are the most in franchise history. In 2002, he was named an All-Star and nearly hit a game-ending home run to lead off the bottom of the 10th inning (instead the game ended in a controversial 7–7 tie that ultimately altered World Series rules from 2003 to '16). But Dunn's power is perhaps best exemplified by the mammoth 535-foot home run he hit at Great American Ballpark in 2004, which remains the longest ever hit in the stadium.
The Best of the Rest
The following three players are home run hitters from Cincinnati Reds history who just missed the top five.
- Years Played: 1971–81
- Home Runs: 244 (7th)
- Plate Appearances/Home Run: 20.53 (7th)
- Single-Season High: 52 in 1977
George Foster broke out in his sixth season with the Reds, making the first of four straight All-Star appearances in 1976 to further entrench himself as a key cog in the "Big Red Machine." He then hit a still-standing single-season franchise record 52 homers in 1977 to win National League MVP honors.
- Years Played: 2007–21
- Home Runs: 331 (2nd)
- Plate Appearances/Home Run: 24.56 (13th)
- Single-Season High: 37 in 2010
Joey Votto is known as one of the nicest and most fun players in today's game, and he is beloved in Cincinnati, having spent his entire career there as one of the most consistent players the franchise has ever seen. Votto has hit more than 20 home runs in nine of his 15 seasons, has been selected for six All-Star games and was the 2010 National League MVP.
- Years Played: 1947–57
- Home Runs: 251 (6th)
- Plate Appearances/Home Run: 21.53 (10th)
- Single-Season High: 38 in 2006
Ted Kulszewski debuted in 1947 but didn't become a major power threat until 1953, when he had his first of four straight seasons with at least 35 homers. He led the league in 1954 and made four straight All-Star teams, but he struggled with injuries following the 1956 season and was never the same slugger (though he was still one of the best power hitters the 1950s had to offer).
Cincinnati Reds Home Run History
Below are some of the franchise home run records for the Cincinnati Reds.
Cincinnati Reds Career Home Run Leaders
- 1. Johnny Bench, 389
- 2. Joey Votto, 331
- 3. Frank Robinson, 324
- 4. Tony Perez, 287
- 5. Adam Dunn, 270
Cincinnati Reds Plate Appearance/Home Run Leaders (min. 100 HRs)
- Adam Dunn, 16.90
- Ken Griffey Jr., 18.59
- Eric Davis, 18.81
- Wally Post, 19.27
- Eugenio Suarez, 19.74
Cincinnati Reds Single-Season Home Run Leaders
- 1. George Foster, 58 (1977)
- T-2. Ted Kluszewski, 49 (1954)
- T-2. Eugenio Suarez, 49 (2019)
- 4. Kluszewski, 47 (1955)
- 5. Adam Dunn, 46 (2004)
Cincinnati Reds Single-Game Home Run Leaders
- Scooter Gennett, 4 (June 6, 2017)
- 30 players tied with 3 (Johnny Bench and Joey Votto did it 3 times)
© 2021 Andrew Harner