Ken Griffey Jr. claimed the top spot on our countdown of the nine greatest Seattle Mariners, and drew strong consideration for this list as well.
The Cincinnati Reds acquired Griffey from the Mariners ahead of the 2000 season, and the future Hall of Famer would ultimately spend eight-and-a-half seasons with the franchise that his father made three All-Star teams while playing for.
Griffey homered 40 times in his first season in Cincinnati, and 210 times total, which puts him ninth in franchise history. Griffey joined the 500 Home Run Club with the Reds on June 20, 2004 and then the 600 Home Run Club on June 9, 2008.
However, injuries unquestionably marred Griffey's time in Cincinnati. Griffey played in 145 games in his first season with the Reds, a number he would never match during the rest of his time with the team. He was limited to less than 85 games every season from 2002 to 2004.
Had Griffey stayed healthier during his Reds tenure, he may very well have challenged Barry Bonds in attempting to surpass Henry Aaron as baseball's Home Run King. Instead, he had to "settle" for 630 career home runs, a mark that is seventh in MLB history.
For many franchise's, Griffey would have still made this list. But in addition to Griffey, Vada Pinson, Bid McPhee, Ted Kluszewski, Adam Dunn, Noodles Hahn and Eric Davis all fell short of cracking the very exclusive countdown of the nine greatest players in Reds history:
9. Dave Concepción (1970-1988)
Best Season as a Red: 1974 - .281/.335/.397 with 14 home runs, 82 RBIs, 44 walks, .732 OPS, 106 OPS+ and a 5.8 fWAR
Career Stats as a Red: .267/.322/.357 with 101 home runs, 950 RBIs, 736 walks, 2,326 hits, .679 OPS, 88 OPS+ and 39.7 fWAR
There are probably in excess of five players more qualified than Concepción to be on this list based on offensive performance. However, Concepción was a five-time Gold Glove Award winner and is Cincinnati's franchise leader in defensive WAR at 21.4. Concepción's entire 19-year career was spent with the Reds, with him making nine All-Star Game appearances during that period. His No. 13 was retired by the Reds during the 2007 season.
8. George Foster (1971-1981)
Best Season as a Red: 1977 - .320/.382/.631 with 52 home runs, 149 RBIs, 61 walks, 1.013 OPS, 165 OPS+ and an 8.9 fWAR
Career Stats as a Red: .286/.356/.514 with 244 home runs, 861 RBIs, 470 walks, 1,276 hits, .870 OPS, 140 OPS+ and 42.0 fWAR
It took until Foster's fourth full season in Cincinnati for him to break out, but he preceded to put together one of the greatest seven-year stretches in franchise history during his peak. Between 1975 and 1981, Foster finished sixth or better in National League MVP voting on four occasions, winning the senior circuit's top honor in 1977. The only player who hit more than Foster's 221 home runs during that seven-year period was Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt. Foster's 244 home runs are seventh in franchise history.
7. Tony Pérez (1964-1976; 1984-1986)
Best Season as a Red: 1970 - .317/.401/.589 with 40 home runs, 129 RBIs, 83 walks, .990 OPS, 158 OPS+ and an 8.2 fWAR
Career Stats as a Red: .283/.346/.474 with 287 home runs, 1,192 RBIs, 671 walks, 1,934 hits, .820 OPS, 127 OPS+ and 49.5 fWAR
Pérez never won a National League MVP, but during his 16 seasons -- across two stints -- with the Reds, he finished in the top 10 in voting for the award on four occasions, while making seven All-Star teams. Pérez's 287 home runs are fourth in franchise history, and the Reds retired his No. 24 during the 2000 season. 2000 was the same year that Pérez was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, with a Reds cap on his plaque.
6. Joey Votto (2007-Present)
Best Season as a Red: 2010 - .324/.424/.600 with 37 home runs, 113 RBIs, 91 walks, 1.024 OPS, 171 OPS+ and a 6.9 fWAR
Career Stats as a Red: .302/.417/.520 with 331 home runs, 1,065 RBIs, 1,294 walks, 2,027 hits, .937 OPS, 148 OPS+ and 60.2 fWAR
A second-round pick by the Reds in 2002, Votto is on track to spend his entire career with the same organization, and perhaps head to Cooperstown shortly thereafter. Votto is a six-time All-Star, who won the National League MVP in 2010. In total, Votto has finished seventh or better in NL MVP voting on six occasions during his career. Votto is the franchise leader in career on-base percentage (.416), walks (1,294) and intentional walks (147). He's currently second in franchise history with 331 home runs as a Red, but could very well own the top spot by the time that his excellent career concludes.
5. Barry Larkin (1986-2004)
Best Season as a Red: 1996 - .298/.410/.567 with 33 home runs, 89 RBIs, 96 walks, .977 OPS, 155 OPS+ and a 6.8 fWAR
Career Stats as a Red: .295/.371/.444 with 198 home runs, 960 RBIs, 939 walks, 2,340 hits, .815 OPS, 116 OPS+ and 67.0 fWAR
By outsiders, Larkin's legacy may be overlooked because he wasn't a part of "The Big Red Machine," as a majority of the other players on this list were at some point. Still, the Hall of Famer spent his entire 19-year career with the Reds, making 12 All-Star teams, winning nine Silver Sluggers, three Gold Gloves and the 1995 National League MVP. A 1990 World Series Champion, Larkin's No. 11 is retired by the Reds.
4. Frank Robinson (1956-1965)
Best Season as a Red: 1962 - .342/.421/.624 with 39 home runs, 136 RBIs, 76 walks, 1.045 OPS, 173 OPS+ and an 8.2 fWAR
Career Stats as a Red: .303/.389/.554 with 324 home runs, 1,009 RBIs, 698 walks, 1,673 hits, .943 OPS, 150 OPS+ and 59.7 fWAR
Robinson is the rare player to appear on top nine lists for multiple franchises, having also checked in on our countdown of the nine greatest Baltimore Orioles. That's fitting when you consider that to this day, Robinson is the only person to win MVP Awards in both leagues. While Robinson's Hall of Fame plaque features him wearing an Orioles cap, he spent the largest chunk (10 seasons) of his career with the Reds. Robinson won the National League Rookie of the Year Award in 1956 as a Red, and then the senior circuit's MVP in 1961. Even with all the great hitters that the Reds have had, Robinson is the franchise's all-time leader in slugging percentage (.554) and OPS (.943). His No. 20 is retired by the Reds.
3. Joe Morgan (1972-1979)
Best Season as a Red: 1975 - .327/.466/.508 with 17 home runs, 94 RBIs, 132 walks, .974 OPS, 132 OPS+ and an 11.0 fWAR
Career Stats as a Red: .288/.415/.470 with 152 home runs, 612 RBIs, 881 walks, 1,155 hits, .885 OPS, 147 OPS+ and 57.2 fWAR
One of the greatest second basemen in MLB history, Morgan joined the Reds in 1972 after spending parts of nine seasons with the Houston Astros. As a Red, Morgan made eight All-Star teams, captured five Gold Gloves and won back-to-back National League MVP Awards in 1975 and 1976. The Reds retired Morgan's No. 8 in 1984, and he went into the Hall of Fame with a Reds cap on in 1990.
2. Pete Rose (1963-1978; 1984-1986)
Best Season as a Red: 1973 - .338/.401/.437 with five home runs, 64 RBIs, 65 walks, .838 OPS, 138 OPS+ and a 7.3 fWAR
Career Stats as a Red: .307/.379/.425 with 152 home runs, 1,036 RBIs, 1,210 walks, 3,358 hits, .804 OPS, 124 OPS+ and 76.1 fWAR
Rose is baseball's all-time hits leader with a staggering 4,256 hits, 3,358 of which came during nearly two decades with the Reds. In 19 seasons in Cincinnati, Rose won the 1963 National League Rookie of the Year Award, 1973 NL MVP and set franchise records in hits, games played (2,722), fWAR (76.1), offensive WAR (78.0), runs scored (1,741), total bases (4,645), singles (2,490), doubles (601) and extra-base hits (868). Rose's No. 14 was retired by the Reds in 2016.
1. Johnny Bench (1967-1983)
Best Season as a Red: 1970 - .293/.345/.587 with 45 home runs, 148 RBIs, 54 walks, .932 OPS, 141 OPS+ and a 7.9 fWAR
Career Stats as a Red: .267/.342/.476 with 389 home runs, 1,376 RBIs, 891 walks, 2,048 hits, .817 OPS, 126 OPS+ and 74.8 fWAR
Bench is the greatest catcher in MLB history, and in our opinion, the best player to ever suit up for one of baseball's oldest franchises. Bench spent his entire 17-year career with the Reds, winning the 1968 National League Rookie of the Year Award, two NL MVP Awards (1970 & 1972) and the 1976 World Series MVP. A 14-time All-Star, Bench is the franchise leader in home runs (389), RBIs (1,376) and sacrifice flies (90). Bench -- who also won 10 Gold Glove Awards -- was a first-ballot Hall of Fame electee in 1989, and his No. 5 is retired by the Reds.