1990’s Cincinnati Reds decade

20 12 2013

The Reds started the decade free of the controversy that Pete Rose’s involvement in gambling that had placed over the team in 1989.  And there was also some other good off-field news.  Joe Morgan was elected to the Hall of Fame in his 1st year on the ballot.  They went wire-to-wire to win the division championship in 1990, and they shocked the heavily favored A’s to win the World Championship that year.  The Nasty Boys were the story of that team – the 3-headed monster kept a balanced team in contention in almost any game.

nasty boys

They didn’t do well defending their title, winning just 74 games in 1991 after injuries marred their season.  They won 90 games the next year, but couldn’t wrestle the division title back from the Braves.  In 1994 they were in the heat of a division battle and looked poised to make the postseason when the strike derailed their chances.  The team made headlines when they traded for two-sport star Deion Sanders.

In 1995 baseball had realignment, they became the first champions of the NL Central and won the first NLDS in history.  Barry Larkin had a banner year, winning the National League MVP award, Reggie Sanders had a breakout campaign and Pete Schourek was the Cy Young runner-up.  They couldn’t get past the eventual champion Braves, though, in the Championship Series.

Larkin Gant

In 1996 Larkin was arguably even better, as he posted the first 30-30 season by a shortstop in MLB history.  But the team didn’t fare as well.  Unfortunately, 1995 was the last postseason berth for the team until 2010.  They started off slow and finished .500.  Jeff Brantley was a bright spot, though, winning the Rolaids Relief Award as the league’s best reliever.

Injuries plagued their 1997 season, and the Reds stumbled to 76 wins.  Jeff Shaw kept the Rolaids Relief Award with the team, though – he was the bright spot with 42 saves.  In 1998 the team wasn’t much better as they were in a bit of a rebuilding mode.

They did have something historic in the game on September 27th of the season.  The lineup that day featured Barry’s brother Stephen Larkin playing the only game of his Major League career, starting at first base and batting third behind his brother.  Bret Boone hit cleanup, playing 2nd base, with Aaron starting at third and batting sixth.  It’s the only time in Major League history that an all-brother infield was featured.

The 1999 season seemed to hold promise for the franchise.  Marge Schott, who had been embroiled in controversy for most of the decade, finally sold her interest in the team to Cincy businessman Carl Linder.  They also ended their “no facial hair” clubhouse rule.  And the team was stellar, winning 96 games behind Larkin, Greg Vaughn, Sean Casey and an excellent bullpen.  That left them tied with the Mets for the wild card, but they wilted in the 1-game playoff against Al Leiter and just missed the playoffs.  Still, a young team held promise for the future.

Decade MVP – Barry Larkin (.303/137/649, 266 SB, 834 R, 1,447 H, 8 AS, 7 SS, 3 GG, 1995 MVP)

Pitcher of the Decade – Jose Rijo (72-43/2.74/955 K, AS, WS MVP)

All told, in the decade, the Reds won a World Series (Jose Rijo – WS MVP), had one MVP (Larkin ’95), had 24 All-stars, 1 All-Star starting pitcher (Jack Armstrong – ’90), a Rookie of the Year (Scott Williamson – ’99), 2 Rolaids Relievers of the Year (Brantley, Shaw),

I gave out an “award” in each write-up I did for MVP and best pitcher, here’s the breakdown of the award winners:

MVP: Barry Larkin 4x, Chris Sabo, Jose Rijo, Bip Roberts, Kevin Mitchell, Jeff Shaw, Sean Casey

Best pitcher: Rijo 5x, Pete Schourek, Jeff Brantley, Shaw, Pete Harnisch, Scott Williamson

Here’s my “all-decade team”:

C – Eddie Taubensee (closely over Joe Oliver)

1B – Hal Morris

2B – Bret Boone

3B – Chris Sabo

SS – Barry Larkin

OF – Reggie Sanders

OF – Eric Davis

OF – Paul O’Neill (outfield was a revolving door)

SP – Jose Rijo

SP – John Smiley

SP – Tom Browning

SP – Pete Harnisch

RP – Rob Dibble




2 responses

20 12 2013
Red Cardboard

Excellent write up. That 1990 team is what got me into card collecting.

21 12 2013

Yeah, it’s still my favorite team of all time. A true team – no real superstars – Eric Davis was the closest thing and he didn’t have his best season in 1999. Larkin was still very young at the time.

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