Sam Crawford saw his production dip a bit after a breakout 1901 season, but he still batted .333 with three home runs and 78 RBI, while Jake Beckley continued his steady production, batting .330 with a team high five home runs and 69 RBI. Heinie Peitz had his best offensive season, hitting .315 with a homer and 60 RBI, while Cy Seymour hit .340 with two home runs and 37 RBI after his mid-season arrival from the Baltimore Orioles.
On the mound, Noodles Hahn was the ace of the staff once again, going 23–12 with an ERA of 1.77 in 36 starts, completing 35 of them. Bill Phillips went 16–16 with a 2.51 ERA in 33 starts, while Ed Poole, acquired by the Reds from the Pittsburgh Pirates early in the season, went 12–4 with a 2.15 ERA in 16 starts.
Cincinnati got off to a rough start, going only 4–12 in their opening sixteen games to quickly find themselves in seventh place, 10.5 games behind the Pittsburgh Pirates. The losses continued to pile up, and after a 27–37 start to the year, the Reds fired manager Bid McPhee, and replaced him with Frank Bancroft on an interim basis. Bancroft had last managed in the major leagues with the Indianapolis Hoosiers in 1889, and he managed the Providence Grays to a World Series title in 1884.
Cincinnati also began to make numerous player changes, as John Dobbs was sent to the Chicago Orphans for cash, and Erve Beck was released by the team. The Reds signed free agent Cy Seymour, who had been released by the Orioles after hitting .268 with three home runs and 41 RBI in 72 games with them. The Reds played better under Bancroft, as they went 9–7 when he was the manager, before the team named Joe Kelley as player-manager for the remainder of the season. Kelley was acquired by the Orioles during the season, where he hit .311 with a homer and 34 RBI in 60 games. With Kelley as the manager, the Reds finished the season strongly, going 34–26 in their last 60 games, to finish the year with a 70–70 record, good enough for fourth place in the National League; however, they were 33.5 games behind the first-place Pirates.