George Foster (15) Days Until Cincinnati Reds Report to Spring Training


Once upon a time, before free agency, the Cincinnati Reds built a powerhouse on the Riverfront through a combination of solid amateur talent evaluation and shrewd trades, all of which paid off in the form of The Big Red Machine in the mid-1970s.  With 15 days left until Spring Training begins, Reds fans have some slim hope that the team can touch some of that long-gone magic through the trade for left-fielder Marlon Byrd to bolster an anemic offense.  Two generations ago, though, left field was a strength, courtesy of another trade acquisition, George Foster, Number 15 on our Countdown Team. 

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Originally drafted by the San Francisco Giants in 1968, Foster was traded to the Reds in May of 1971 in exchange for Frank Duffy and Vern Geishert.  Foster’s play in Cincinnati was spotty, and he found himself in AAA Indianapolis in 1973, but the extra seasoning paid off by 1974 when he found himself in the Majors for good.  In 1975, Foster was the Reds’ regular left-fielder and played an important, though underrated, part in their run to the World Series title by batting an even .300, swatting 23 home runs and driving in 78.

Foster broke out in 1976 with 29 homers and 121 RBI while slashing to the tune of .306/.364/.530, finishing second to teammate Joe Morgan in the National League MVP race.

By 1977, the Machine was starting to sputter, and Cincinnati lost the division to the Los Angeles Dodgers.  Foster, though, peaked that summer and put up monstrous numbers: 52 home runs, 149 RBI, .320/.382/.631, 165 OPS+, 8.4 WAR.  For his efforts, Foster was an easy choice as MVP.

Foster put up another big season in 1978 (40 HR, 120 RBI, .281) and then started a gradual decline at age 20.  He was traded to the New York Mets in February of 1982 and enjoyed a few 20-home run seasons there.  The Mets released Foster in August of 1986, and the Chicago White Sox promptly signed him to a free agent deal. When the ChiSox released him in September of that season, though, Foster was done at age 37.

In 18 Big League seasons, Foster hit 348 home runs with 1239 RBI and slashed .274/.338/.480.

He likely will never make the Hall of Fame, but George Foster will always be a Cincinnati Reds legend.


Next: Tucker Barnhart (16) Days Until Cincinnati Reds Report to Spring Training