Driessen was stuck behind Tony Perez on the Cincinnati Reds, but he was still part of the Big Red Machine that won consecutive World Series titles in 1975-76. After the latter title, the Reds traded Perez to give the first base job to the younger Driessen. For the first post-Perez season at least, Driessen filled in just fine: he hit .300 with 17 homers, and 91 runs batted in, Perez-like numbers. He spent his first twelve seasons in Cincinnati, but just as Perez was coming back and Pete Rose was taking over as manager, Driessen was traded to the Giants.
Unlike Perez, Driessen was considered a very good defensive first baseman. He never won a Gold Glove, but he had good range to his right and a strong arm. He was also surprisingly fast for a man his size: he stole 31 bases in 1977 and 28 more in 1978. He also walked more than he struck out, leading the NL in free passes in 1980.