2002 Cincinnati Reds season

25 06 2015

Reds logo

2002 was the 33rd and final season of Riverfront Stadium / Cinergy Field.  There were a lot of memories made in that “ballpark”:

  • 14 playoff appearances (7 each by the Reds and Bengals),
  • 5 pennants,
  • 2 AFC Championships,
  • 3 World Series wins,
  • and a team in 1975-76 that is in the argument as the greatest of all-time.

 

In 2002, the Reds closed the stadium out by again being respectable but ultimately not all that good.  The season started ominously as Ken Griffey Jr. tore a tendon in early April.  However, the team overcame that, going 16-9 to post the best record in the National League.  They had a solid May as well and still led the division at the end of the month.  And they stayed above .500 throughout June and July.

Their hitting was good.  22-year old prospects Adam Dunn (26 homers) and Austin Kearns (.500 slugging) played their first full season in the big leagues and were excellent.  Aaron Boone (26 HR, 32 SB) and Todd Walker rounded out a solid young offensive core.

But the early success proved to be fools gold.  Griffey never got back to full health, going on the DL for over a month when he pulled his hamstring in late June.  The Reds had a good bullpen that helped them win some close games, but the team just didn’t have the starting pitching to get over down years from Griffey, Sean Casey and Barry Larkin (who had his worst year as a pro in 2002).  Jimmy Haynes won 15 games, but no other pitcher won more than 7.  Jose Rijo was an interesting experiment – after 5 years out due to injury, Rijo came back briefly in 2001, and then went 5-4 as a spot starter / middle reliever in 2002.  Rijo is one of 2 players to have played in the Majors after getting a Hall of Fame vote (the other being Minnie Minoso).

It was tough to pick between Boone and Kearns as the team MVP below – but I went with Boone, even though he had an OPS 150 points below than Kearns.  Kearns had 250 less plate appearances and Boone was a good defensive player.  The local writers elected Boone as well that year.

Team MVP: Aaron Boone (.286/26/87, 32 SB)

Best Pitcher: Elmer Dessens (7-8/3.02/93)

Award Winners:

none

All-Stars:

Adam Dunn

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