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Reds announce fans’ voting for All-1990s decade team

Jim Walker
jim.walker@irontontribune.com

The Cincinnati Reds didn’t dominate the 1990s like the Big Red Machine did in the 1970s, but there was still success and talent.
The Atlanta Braves are celebrated as the team of the 1990s due mainly to their starting pitching rotation.
Atlanta made the playoffs eight times in 10 years, reached the league championship series as many times and won five pennants.
The Reds made the playoffs twice in 1990 and 1995 and advanced to the league championship series twice.
Cincinnati lost to Atlanta in 1995 but beat the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1990 as they went on to sweep the Oakland A’s in the World Series.
So, the Reds made one World Series appearance and the Braves five, but each team won one world championship.
The Reds recently had fans vote to selected the All-1990s team.
The voting was close at several positions but Barry Larkin was the runaway winner at shortstop. As is the case with fan voting, many just vote for whom they liked and throw statistics and objectivity out the window.
Fans voted for Sean Casey at first base, Bret Boone at second base, Hall of Famer Larkin at shortstop, Chris Sabo at third base and Joe Oliver the catcher.
The outfield had Paul O’Neil in right, Eric Davis in center, and Reggie Sanders in left.
The starting pitchers were comprised of right-hander Jose Rijo and left-handers Tom Browning and Danny Jackson.
The bullpen finished with five members due to ties in voting. Only three relievers were supposed to be selected. However, this was a very strong and deep group of candidates.
The right-handers are Rob Dibble, Danny Graves and Jeff “The Cowboy” Brantley while the lefties are Randy Myers and Norm Charlton.
Of course, Dibble, Myers and Charlton formed The Nasty Boys who were so instrumental in the 1990 World Championship.
The candidates for each position were:
Catchers — Joe Oliver, Benito Santiago, Eddie Taubensee, Jason LaRue, Jeff Reed;
First Base — Sean Casey, Todd Benziner, Hal Morris, Dmitri Young, Eduardo Perez;
Second Base — Bret Boone, Mariano Duncan, Pokey Reese, Bill Doran, Ron Oester;
Third Base — Chris Sabo, Aaron Boone, Tony Fernandez, Jeff Branson, Willie Greene
Shortstop — Barry Larkin, Freddy Benavides, Travis Dawkins, Pokey Reese;
Outfield (Select 3) — Eric Davis, Paul O’Neil, Reggie Sanders, Glenn Braggs, Billy Hatcher, Roberto Kelly, Deion Sanders, Chris Stynes, Dmitri Young, Mike Cameron, Ron Gant, Thomas Howard, Kevin Mitchell, Bip Roberts, Reggie Sanders, Greg Vaughn;
Starting Pitchers (Select 3) — Jose Rijo, Tom Browning, Danny Jackson, Jack Armstrong, Chris Hammond, Steve Parris, John Smiley, Brett Tomko, Tim Belcher, Dave Burba, Pete Harnisch, Denny Neagle, Mark Portugal, Pete Schourek, Greg Swindell;
Relief Pitchers (Select 3) — Rob Dibble, Randy Myers, Norm Charlton, Jeff Brantley, Danny Graves, Stan Belinda, Hector Carrasco, Mike Remlinger, Jeff Shaw, Scott Sullivan, Gabe White, Ted Power, Scott Service, Lee Smith, David Weathers, Scott Williamson.
It was noteworthy that Larkin was basically the team’s shortstop for virtually all of the 1990s. An injury in 1997 limited him to 73 games but he still had a strong first half of the season and was named to the All-Star team.
The statistics prove that the close voting was understandable. Here’s a thumbnail rundown of the top players at each position.
Catcher: Oliver was behind the plate as the Reds won the World Series and he had the game-winning hit in Game 1 of the World Series.
First base: Hal Morris played eight seasons and batted better than .300 in five of those years. Casey only played two seasons and had a big year in 1999, but Casey played into the 2000s and was a fan favorite.
Second base: Boone was an All-Star, won a Gold Glove and earned some MVP votes in 1994 when he hit .320 with 12 home runs and 68 RBIs.
Shortstop: Larkin batted .303 for the entire decade.
Third base: Sabo — another fan favorite — led the Reds in hitting in the World Series. He was the Rookie of the Year in 1988 and “Spuds” made two All-Star games.
Outfield: Davis had great tools and got MVP votes in 1990. The Reds traded him away in 1992 but he came back in 1996 and hit 26 home runs with 83 RBIs;
Sanders played eight seasons and had 125 HRs, 194 stolen bases and 503 RBS;
O’Neill played three years in the 90s and started three in the 1980s with his most productive years after being dealt to the Yankees. In the 90s, he had 58 HRs and 235 RBIs in three years;
Other outfielders considered were Kevin Mitchell, Ron Gant, Greg Vaughn and Bip Roberts.
Starting pitchers: Rijo was 72-43 with a 2.74 ERA during the ’90s and was the World Series MVP. Browning had some great seasons in the 1980s including the Reds’ only perfect game and the only Reds’ rookie to win 20 games back in 1985. He had 45 wins from 90-94, was an All-Star and had 15 and 14 wins in back-to-back seasons.
Jackson was a surprise because his best season was 1988 when he was the Cy Young runner-up and was 6-6 in 1990, his only season he played with the Reds in that decade.
Some better choices would have been John Smiley with 48 wins over five seasons and Pete Harnisch who was 30-17 combined for 1998-99.
Bullpen: Dibble — who threw 100 miles an hour in an era when they clocked the speed as the ball crossed the plate — had 86 saves and was a two-time All-Star; Charlton — who also did some spot starting — had 29 saves, 19 wins and a 2.85 ERA; Myers had 37 saves and a 2.96 ERA; Brantley had 88 saves including 44 in 1996 when he led the NL and was the Rolaids Fireman of the Year; another surprise was Graves who pitched three seasons in the ’90s with 27 saves in 1999. He had his best seasons from 2000-04 and retired as the team’s all-time saves leader.