Manager: Sparky Anderson
By Greg Leadbetter
There have been many great baseball teams throughout, but in the last 40 years, the 1976 Cincinnati Reds rank at the top as one of the greatest baseball teams.
The 1976 Reds were led by manager Sparky Anderson, who helped guide "The Big Machine" to its second straight World Series title by finishing the regular season 102-60, and sweeping the Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Yankees in the postseason.
Offensively, the Reds led the National League that year in every category, as "The Big Red Machine" destroyed opposing pitchers. The machine consisted of second baseman and 1976 NL MVP Joe Morgan (.320 average, 111 RBI, 27 HR, 60 SB), outfielders George Foster (.306 average, 121 RBI'S), Ken Griffey (.336 average 34 SB), Cesar Geronimo (.307 average), and third baseman Pete Rose (.323 average, 63 RBI, 42 doubles). Also included in the machine were first baseman Tony Perez (19 HR 91 RBI), shortstop Dave Concepcion (69 RBI, 21 SB), and catcher Johnny Bench (16 HR, 74 RBI), who received the World Series MVP award by batting .533 with two homers, a double, a triple, and six RBI'S against the Yankees. Bench would also receive his ninth Gold Glove Award, showing his great prowess as a defensive catcher.
The pitching staff was mediocre at best, as the Reds managed to have seven ten-game winners. The staff included Rawly Eastwick, who led the National League in saves with 26, 15-game winner Gary Nolan, who finished 15-9 with a 3.46 ERA, and 14-game winner and co- NL Rookie of The Year Pat Zachry (14-7, 2.74 ERA). Other pitching staff members for the 1976 Reds were lefties Don Gullett (11-3, 3.00 ERA) and Fred Norman (12-7, 3.10 ERA), and righties Jack Billingham (12-10, 4.32 ERA), and Santo Alcala (11-4, 4.70 ERA)
The staff kept the Yankees bats quiet during the World Series, holding them to only eight runs and 30 hits in the four-game sweep. As a team, the Reds struck out 16 Yankee batters and had an ERA of only two in the Series! On the offensive side, the Reds had seven hitters bat over .300, with an overall team batting average of .313 in the Series, showing why the 1976 Cincinnati Reds are regarded as one of the best teams in the history of baseball.
Greg Leadbetter is a graduate of West Holmes High School and The University of Akron Wayne College in Ohio who contributes to historicbaseball.com. He can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.