2000 Cincinnati Reds season

16 11 2014

The 1999/2000 offseason was about as newsworthy as they’ve ever had.  The Hall of Fame ceremony in Cooperstown would prove to be a Reds party, as there were no less than 4 inductees whose primary affiliation was with the Reds organization.

  • Marty Brennaman won the Ford C. Frick award for Broadcasting.  Brennaman has been the voice of the Reds since 1974, still announcing Reds victories with his trademark “This one belongs to the Reds!”
  • Sparky Anderson, manager of the Big Red Machine.  He managed more seasons in Detroit, and did win a World Series there.  But his best seasons were in Cincinnati; he won 2 championships and 4 NL Pennants with the Reds.  And his Cooperstown cap bears the “C” logo on it!
  • Tony Perez, RBI man from that Big Red Machine, who also came back for a stint in the mid-80’s and was the hitting coach for the 1990 World Champions.
  • Bid McPhee, one of the better players from the 1800’s.  McPhee played his whole career for the Reds, and was best known for being one of the last players to play bare handed.

Tony Perez HOF plaque

Sparky Anderson HOF plaque

Marty Brennaman HOF plaque

But the biggest news in the offseason was the return of the prodigal son.  Moeller High’s own Ken Griffey Jr. requested a trade from the Mariners, and the Reds essentially traded Mike Cameron for him.  It seemed like a great deal for the Reds at the time – they were coming off a 96-win season and it seemed like Griffey would put them over the top.  At the time, it was hailed as the biggest trade since Babe Ruth was dealt from Boston.  The Reds let Greg Vaughn walk in free agency, but also picked up Dante Bichette to help replace his bat.

The Reds offense was consistent – after being shut out by Al Leiter in the play-in game in 1999, the Reds went the entire season without being shut out.  They were only the second team in modern baseball history to accomplish this, the other being the 1932 Yankees.  Unlike those Yankees, who swept the Cubs in the World Series, the Reds did not make the playoffs.  They played .500 ball for most of April, and then played well in May to stay close to the division-leading Cardinals.  However, an abysmal June saw the Reds fall out of that race, and they entered the All-Star break under .500 and 8 games back of the Cardinals (albeit still in second place).  They did trim that lead to 4 games by the end of July, but a poor August essentially eliminated them from the race; they were back at .500 and again 8 games behind the Cardinals.  The team caught fire in September, but it was already too late as the Cardinals did as well.  The Reds finished 85-77, 10 games out of first place and 9 games out of a playoff spot.

Griffey was the highlight of the season – he hit 40 home runs, knocked in 118 and scored 100.  It was by far his best season in Cincinnati, but while the offense was consistent, it wasn’t good enough to overcome mediocre starting pitching and an injury filled season for Barry Larkin.  Dmitri Young (.303/18/88) and Sean Casey (.315/20/85) continued to show promise, and Chris Stynes (.334/12/40) was a pleasant surprise as a utility player.  But Dante Bichette was a relative disappointment; his .819 OPS wasn’t enough to overcome his poor play in the outfield.

The pitching rotation just wasn’t very good.  Denny Neagle was the one pitcher who showed promise – he went 8-2 but was traded when the Reds fell out of contention.  Elmer Dessens was also a bright spot, going 11-5 on the year with stints in the bullpen and as a starter.  But the rest of the rotation (mostly consisting of Steve Parris, Rob Bell, Pete Harnisch and Ron Villone) struggled to maintain a .500 record and posted an ERA of around 5 runs.

The bullpen, on the other hand, was excellent.  Danny Graves was stellar at the back-end, posting 30 saves and a 2.56 ERA.  Scott Williamson came off his Rookie of the Year campaign and chipped in as a starter at times; he struck out 136 batters in 112 innings.  Scott Sullivan was also very good.

Mike Bell made an interesting headline when he made his debut for the Reds.  His brother David had first played in the majors 5 years earlier, so his family already featured 3 generations in the big leagues.  But David never played for the Reds like his father, Buddy, and grandfather, Gus, had.  When David made his debut, the Bells became the first three generation family to play for the same franchise.

2000 Griffey Reds Press Conference

Team MVP: Ken Griffey Jr. (.271/40/118)

Best Pitcher: Danny Graves (10-5/2.56/53, 30 SV)

Award Winners:

Pokey Reese, Gold Glove

All-Stars:

Griffey Jr., Barry Larkin, Graves

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