Last Updated on August 30, 2023 by Matt Musico
The Cincinnati Reds have been around as a professional baseball team for quite a while — since 1882, to be exact. During that time, they’ve had some excellent players take the field for them. But when it comes to having a historically powerful season for the leaderboard of Reds home run leaders, there’s a very small group who have reached the 40-homer plateau.
In Reds franchise history, there have been just 16 different seasons of a player slugging at least 40 home runs, which has been done by nine different dudes. Only one of them — which we’ll cover in a minute — has surpassed 50 home runs in a season.
Let’s check out who makes up the top five of the Reds’ single-season home run leaderboard before detailing the rest of the top 20. And when you’re done, be sure to also check out the franchise’s all-time leaderboard.
Reds Home Run Leaders: Top 5
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George Foster: 52 Home Runs in 1977
George Foster hit 348 home runs with 1,239 RBI during his 18-year MLB career, which is definitely not something to overlook. However, when you take a peek at his year-by-year stats, it’s pretty clear when his prime was. It happened from 1976 (his age-27 season) to 1979 (his age-30 season). During that time, he slugged 151 home runs and 488 RBI, appeared in four straight All-Star Games, and finished in the top-12 of NL MVP voting each year. He also slugged 30-plus homers in three straight seasons, which were the only times he got over that number in his career.
The one time he took home the NL MVP hardware was in 1977. He not only led the league with those 52 homers, but he also was at the top of the leaderboard in RBI (149), runs (124), slugging percentage (.631), OPS (1.013), and total bases (388). It was a sharp rise in power for Foster, as he entered the year never hitting more than 29 in a single season, which he had done the year prior.
Foster posted a slugging percentage over .600 in each of his final four months of the year, but July and August were his best when it came to accumulating home runs. He hit nearly half of his season-long total (24) during this span, with 12 coming in each month.
Ted Kluszewski: 49 Home Runs in 1954
I’m not going to lie, I didn’t know much about Ted Kluszewski before doing some research on him since he’s heavily featured on the Reds’ home run leaderboards. But the dude seemed like an absolute baller. His power didn’t blossom until his seventh year in the majors. When it did, it was fast and furious for a short period of time.
In Kluszewski’s first six seasons, he hit 74 dingers in 2,723 plate appearances. In 1953, he hit 40 in just 629 plate appearances. This was his first of three straight years with 40-plus homers, with his 1954 campaign being the best. He led the league in both homers (49) and RBI (141) while slashing .326/.407/642. He placed second in MVP voting to Willie Mays, but he did get selected to the All-Star Game for a second straight year.
Two situations “Big Klu” thrived in? The first was facing right-handed pitching. As a left-handed hitter, Kluszewski slashed .347/.437/.706 in 446 plate appearances, which included 36 of his 49 homers. He also loved hitting at home, as evidenced by the 34 homers and .724 slugging percentage he racked up in that situation.
Eugenio Suárez: 49 Home Runs in 2019
I love looking at Eugenio Suárez‘s home run progression between his MLB debut and his career-high mark of 49 in 2019. As a rookie with the Detroit Tigers in 2014, he hit four dingers. He then joined the Reds to begin his ascension in this category. It started with 13 in 2015, followed by 21 in 2016 and 26 in 2017. The upward trend continued with 34 in 2018 before getting to 49 in ’19, which set a franchise record for home runs by a third baseman.
Suárez was on track to keep his home run streak going by the All-Star break, but he went on a tear in the second half to bring things to a whole new level. At the midsummer respite, the third baseman had 20 home runs and a .811 OPS in 365 plate appearances. Over his final 297 trips to the plate, though, he slugged 29 homers with a 1.081 OPS that was powered by a .684 slugging percentage.
Ted Kluszewski: 47 Home Runs in 1955
A year after his 49-homer performance, Kluszewski followed it up with another 47 taters and 113 RBI. It included placing sixth in MVP voting and appearing in another All-Star Game. Not a bad encore performance, right? This was his third straight season with at least 40 homers. He had a total of four years with 30-plus dingers (he hit 35 in 1956). Outside of this four-year stretch, though, he eclipsed 20 just one other time when he hit 25 dingers in 1950.
His performance was much more even this time around when checking out his platoon and home/road splits. He hit 27 homers against righties and 20 against lefties. He also hit more homers on the road (25) than he did at home (22).
Either way, I love looking at it this way — Big Klu enjoyed a 15-year MLB career that yielded 279 home runs. But in just about a quarter of his career, he slugged about 61% of his total homers (171).
Adam Dunn: 46 Home Runs in 2004
The 2004 season was the first of three straight years in which Adam Dunn led the league in strikeouts, but this was a certified power breakout for the outfielder. It was his first of five straight 40-homer seasons, which was a number he’d ultimately get to six times during his career.
By the looks of it, Dunn enjoyed putting together a huge performance every other month in 2004. He began in April with eight homers, 18 RBI, and a 1.288 OPS. After a .717 OPS in May, it went back up to 1.052 in June with 11 homers and 21 RBI. While his .947 OPS in July isn’t too shabby, it went back up in August to 1.001 with another 11 homers and 22 RBI.
Reds Home Run Leaders: The Rest
Here’s what the remainder of the top 20 most powerful seasons in Reds history looks like right now:
- Johnny Bench, 1970: 45 home runs
- Greg Vaughn, 1999: 45
- Johnny Bench, 1972: 40
- Tony Perez, 1970: 40
- George Foster, 1978: 40
- Ken Griffey Jr., 2000: 40
- Wally Post, 1955: 40
- Ted Kluszewski, 1953: 40
- Adam Dunn, 2005-07: 40
- Frank Robinson, 1962: 39
- Lee May, 1971: 39
- Frank Robinson, 1956: 38
- Lee May, 1969: 38
If you’re looking for the rest of the franchise’s single-season home run leaderboard, check out this full list on FanGraphs.
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