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Thoughts On Frank Robinson

Take a look back on the mighty career of Frank Robinson.

Taj Simmons

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It was a cold and rainy late afternoon. The violent winds and dark clouds fill the skies as I hop out of my car and head towards the house after a long and winding day. Per usual, I flip on the television to the MLB Network and make my way towards the couch. I remembered seeing something about a Michael Lorenzen special online that day and was looking forward to it. What I got however, was anything but. My eyes focused on the bottom of the ticker on the screen. “MLB legend, Frank Robinson has passed away at the age of 83”.

I quickly ran through the banks of my memory to figure what I remembered most from him. Of course, I knew how good of a ballplayer he was back in his day. Let’s see, there’s that statue of him greeting fans with a mighty swing of the bat as soon as you cross the street into Great American Ball Park. What else? Ah yes, wasn’t he the first player to win an MVP in both leagues? One with the Reds of course, and one with the Orioles. He was also the first African-American manager in the history of the Majors. As the TV hummed on with their coverage of Frank, I rummaged through these thoughts. A giant question pondered in my mind, why is it that when we think of the all time greats of Major League Baseball, Frank Robinson isn’t discussed more? Of course there’s Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle, Hank Aaron. But when these names pop up, I rarely ever hear Frank Robinson next to them.

Looking at the awards first of all, we have a Two time MVP (one unanimous), Rookie of the Year winner (unanimous), Fourteen time all-star, a triple crown, a World Series MVP, and an All-Star MVP too if you’re into that sort of thing. I don’t know about you, but that is some serious hardware, perhaps some that many fans couldn’t tell you about without looking up.

Looking further into the stats, (and there’s a lot of stats here to look at with Frank Robinson), the numbers prove themselves. He was just shy of collecting 3000 hits, notching in at 2943. Of course, having a batting average career-wise to the tune of .294 helps. His total base hits puts him in at number 35 on the all-time leader boards, ahead of players such as Babe Ruth, Barry Bonds, and Lou Gehrig. Looking at the OBP, his career average .389 is remarkable as well. (Quick Joey Votto plug because Joey Votto is awesome, his career OBP stands at .427) Onto the homers, specifically his spectacular 583 of them, which place him 10th all-time (Or 7th depending on your stance of steroid users Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, and Sammy Sosa). This pairs nicely with his .537 slugging percentage. It’s safe to say Frank Robinson’s bat was legendary, just look at the career slash line of .294/.389/.537. Looking at one of my favorite stats, OPS+ which is adjusted for era and ballparks, is simply mind-boggling. His rookie year had his OPS+ at 143, at age 20 for Redlegs. He also compiled a bWAR of 6.6 that year, a number we’ve seen most recently with Joey Votto and his 7.5 war season in his *cough cough* should of been second mvp season *cough* back in 2017. He had an outstanding four year period from 1959 to 1962 with the Redlegs in which his OPS+ topped at 153, followed by 169, then 164, then finally 172. But that’s not all, his monster 1966 season in which he got those triple crown and MVP awards, topped out his OPS+ at 198. ONE HUNDRED AND NINETY EIGHT. For reference, Mike Trout last year had perhaps his best season ever and his OPS+ touched 199. Finally looking at those bWAR numbers, his totals hit 107.3, good for 24th all-time. I could go on and on about the stats, but there’s no more need, check them out for yourself if you’re still a doubter.

Lets dig further into that 1966 season, his second MVP and triple crown year.

First off, in big bold numbers reads 49, the number of homers he walloped. Best in the MLB that year beating out a future home run king in Hank Aaron (44), feared power hitter and Twins legend Harmon Killebrew (39), and the say hey kid himself, Willie Mays (37).

He also drove in 122 runs which was 12 higher than the second best AL player, Killebrew again.

To complete the third leg of the crown, he owned a batting average of .316 which was nine points higher than Tony Oliva of Minnesota.

Robinson celebrating after his triple crown season

Of course perhaps an even greater remembrance of Frank Robinson was his attitude in at time where African-Americans were not generally regarded well overall. While Jackie Robinson was famous for turning the other cheek, Robinson was famous for dishing it right back out. In a game against the Atlanta Braves, Robinson got caught in the middle of a fight with another legend, hall of famer Eddie Mathews. After a rough slide at third base, the two got into it and Robinson was beat so bad he had to leave the first game of the doubleheader played that day. However on the second game, he came back and not only swatted a homer, but rob Mathews of another in his way of getting even. Pitchers would constantly pitch in on Robinson and knock him down, but he got right back on and looked for the next pitch to punish.

My dad walks into the room and scrolls his eyes across the screen.

“Ah, Frank Robinson” He booms. “You remember my story with him right?”

I did remember his story, but I always liked stories told from their perspective.

“Hmmm, no I can’t say I have” I reply.

“Well, there I was, sitting about 5 rows back in foul territory, when up to the plate comes Frank Robinson. I was about ten years old, and me and my dad hardly ever got the chance to go to the ballpark, so I made sure to bring my glove just in case.”

I could already picture what happened next in my mind, and I tried my best to not laugh or even crack a smile and give it away.

He continued on. “I had just gotten back from the concession stand and plopped down in my seat with my hot dog and soda. I grabbed my dog from the basket, and was just about to chop down on it, when I noticed a bunch of people getting out of their seats in my row. I looked up to see what was going on, and a baseball was flying right at my seat. I’m talking RIGHT AT MY SEAT.” He chirps. “When suddenly the man behind me reaches over my head and plucks the ball right over me. I had my glove on the cement ground, and I never ever forgave myself, for it.” It seemed after all these years, he still hadn’t gotten over it. I don’t think I would either.

Perhaps someone else hasn’t gotten over Frank Robinson as well.

From a Reds perspective, the Frank Robinson trade was a missed game ball. His 1966 season, his best of his career was accomplished not in Cincinnati red, but Baltimore orange and black. Robinson was swapped out for Milt Pappas, Jack Baldschun, and Dick Simpson. If you’re squinting at those names right now and wondering why you haven’t heard of these players before, it’s because they never fared too well in their Cincinnati days. If you pretend for a second that Robinson hadn’t been traded, by bWAR standards, he becomes the greatest Cincinnati Red of all time by a wide margin, easily surpassing Pete Rose and Johnny Bench’s 78 and 75 bWAR. To make it an even bigger slap in the face, Robinson would eventually go on to defeat the Reds in 5 games in the 1970 World Series, contributing 2 homers.

Milt Pappas, the “prized” trade
acquisition

Or perhaps we’re the fan with the missed ball opportunity. I did not grow up in the time period to watch him play, which is a disappointment. Just going off of demographics suggests the same for most of you, or perhaps you had the chance to watch the end of his career, or his graceful transition to manager.

I get up off the couch and mosey my way over to turn off the television. Hours have passed, and I hop in bed. I have one last thought before I drift off to sleep. I wish I had gotten to see such a ferocious competitor play.

Perhaps after all these years, perhaps it was I who had watched that ball fly over my head instead of my dad.

Having been born and raised in Cincinnati, eating Skyline Chili and rooting on the Reds have gone hand in hand. Free times are usually spent scouring the web on Reds information, playing OOTP or the The Show, and pretty much filling up a baseball addiction through any means possible. Personal favorite memories include Jay Bruce's walk-off clinching Central title, watching Joey Votto do his thing, and Jonny Gomes' at bat shenanigans

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Sherry Singh

    February 25, 2019 at 7:19 pm

    Very impressive young writer who really knows baseball! Great article!

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Cincinnati Reds

Should the Reds Sign or Trade Puig?

With the way he has struggled, and the Reds’ current pace, we may see Puig on the move before the trade deadline.

Clay Snowden

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Yasiel Puig gave this team energy in December. The Cincinnati Reds haven’t had excitement in December in years. Acquired in a blockbuster trade with the Dodgers, Puig came to town with a lot of buzz. You may remember him parading around town posting on social media about how much he loved Cincinnati and how excited he was to be a Red. I was thrilled. The talks of 30+ home runs and reaping the benefits of GABP had many fans following the Reds once again. Fast forward to mid- June and no one is too excited about the .213 hitter. The Reds’ chances at making the playoffs seems slim and it might be time to move some rentals. With an expiring contract the question is this: should the Reds look to trade Puig at the deadline?

One thing we all know about Puig is that he’s an emotional player and a big personality. This season, hitting and getting on base has been a struggle for the Wild Horse. A .213 average and a *squints* .256 on-base percentage are awful. 62 K’s to 13 walks is not pretty, either. Sitting at a -0.3 WAR you wonder what’s going on. 11 home runs and 9 stolen bases are positives. He has a strong arm in the outfield as well. While a walk off hit and “I am going to fight an entire Pirates’ team” were memorable moments of the season and, fun as hell, I am not sure if he’ll have a chance to make many more moments like these. So what teams are looking for a corner outfielder who is struggling and is maybe “a bit too much of a personality” for some? That might be the problem. The first corner outfielder off the market was Jay Bruce (name sounds familiar) to the Phillies. The amount of contending teams needing a corner outfield bat is not high and honestly there are simply better options available.

On paper, you would not see a larger return for a player with his stats. Look at his track record, a career .273 hitter that is no doubt a talented player. It might take an injury on a contending team to get his value up. A trade of “we lost a player and need to replace him” not a “let’s see if we can upgrade from our current player” type of trade. When the Reds traded Bruce to the Mets they took a flyer on an injured former high prospect Dilson Herrera. Sometimes taking a flyer on a prospect who might need a change of scenery can pay off big time. Someone did mention they could trade him and try to sign him back in the offseason. While true, I think the Reds would not trade him if they plan to sign him to an extension.

Signing Puig to an extension would pretty much set the outfield for a few years. Winker, Senzel (assuming he stays there), Puig. But with Taylor Trammell approaching quickly where would that put him? Ervin, Schebler, Sirri, Siani, and others could play a role in the future. Puig is not going to be cheap, either. What he does from here on out will give us a better idea but at only 28 years old he has many years left in him. Plenty of expiring contracts will need to be resigned and, well, the Reds don’t have Yankees-type money.

The trade deadline is coming soon and the Reds making the playoffs is very unlikely. Look for the front office to move some players for prospects and for Puig to be a prominently rumored player on the move.

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Cincinnati Reds

Locked On Reds – 6/13/2019 Reds Split with Indians

Thursday’s episode is up!

Jeff

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Cincinnati Reds

Scooter Get Off The Pot

Scooter Gennett is a dude who will be hard to say goodbye to. The team’s current makeup, however, makes it seem that is coming, sooner rather than later.

Dave Pemberton

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© David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Jeff has brought up a lot of talk about who we as fans would hate to see get traded this year. For me there is only one answer. Scooter Gennett.

Without a doubt it has to be him. While I completely understand if they do from a financial and bigger picture stand point, it will eat my soul. I haven’t seen a Cincinnati native this well liked since Barry Larkin.

Everything about him including his name screams a Cincinnati Reds ballplayer. You can see it in his play, character, leadership, and communication that this guy LOVES playing for his home town team. The man is already a Reds legend after smacking 4 home runs in a game. A game that, by sheer luck, I was able to witness. It was, by far, the best moment I have ever witnessed in person at GABP. He put up the best numbers of his career in 2017 only to follow it up with a better season as an All Star in 2018.

Scooter has made it clear he would like to remain a Red and loves this organization. I was really hoping the Reds would extend him to a short term deal last season after an incredible season that almost saw him win a batting title. I even tried starting the #ScooterGetOffThePot trend. Instead, like many things in recent memory with this team, good things go wrong quickly. He suffered the worst injury of his career with a severe strained groin.

Making the case for extending him even more difficult has been the off-the-wall performance by Derek Dietrich. Another free agent find who has been as wildly entertaining and likable. Dietrich has already made himself the face of the team this year with his kid like swagger for the game. Dietrich was just named second basemen of the month of May by the MLB. Per Stats by STATS Dietrich played in 55 games with a .706 slugging percentage. The only other player in baseball history to match that in there first 55 game with an organization was a HOF 2B Rogers Hornsby. The Reds also have control of Dietrich’s contract next season being an arbitration year. If you remove Dietrich from the equation it’s not any better.

Jose Iglesias is a must start for this team, currently, at shortstop. Iglesias is the best defensive infielder the team has had since Brandon Phillips. Iglesias also currently holds the highest batting average on the team nearly two months into the season. Meaning Jose Peraza has no place left to play but filling in for guys on their day off. Peraza also seems like a guy that, come next season, will more than likely be the starting shortstop simply because of his age and salary.

The Reds have their current center fielder, Nick Senzel, who has been the spark to this offense since coming up to the big leagues. The Reds have averaged nearly 2 more runs a game since Senzel has been playing for the team. Senzel definently stands a chance to be Rookie of the Year. Most importantly he seems to a guaranteed core player of this team’s foreseeable future. Senzel is a player who could, hypothetically, be the Reds starting second baseman for 2020. Plus they have Johnathan India, last year’s first round pick, quickly making his way up through the minors. He could potentially take that spot if not next season the following year.

None of this leads me to believe Scooter will be playing for this team next year. He is the perfect trading chip if they are looking to have a sale at the trade deadline or add a missing piece as well. I think what I enjoy about Scooter Gennett most is his GRIT. There is no denying the dude has GRIT. Something many of the players on this team currently do not have. More than anything that is why I will hate if he is traded.

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