The Best Chicago Cubs at Each Position Since 1990
Now, I myself am only 20 years old. I haven't been watching the Cubs and feeling the pain and suffering for as nearly as long as most loyal folks on the North Side of Chicago.
I have been around long enough, though, to compile my list of the Greatest Cubs of the Past 20 Years by each position. That includes one at each fielding position, five starting pitchers, and a closer.
The team hasn't exactly been...good...in the time span, but they have produced a surprising amount of talented players.
Years of Service: 2004-2007
Geovany Soto hasn't been a Cub long enough to earn this honor despite his great rookie season.
Michael Barrett played with the Cubs from 2004-2007 and was extremely consistent in his first three full seasons hitting 16 home runs in each of those years, as well as a minimum of 53 RBI.
His Cubs career was cut short however after a dugout feud with Carlos Zambrano and he was shipped to San Diego.
First Baseman-Mark Grace
Years of Service: 1988-2000
Mark Grace was one of the easiest to pick on the team. Although Derrek Lee has been very good for the Cubs, Grace was one of the most underrated players of the '90s.
Lost in a steroid era, Grace racked up doubles left and right.
Although in a power position at first base, Grace never hit more than 17 home runs in one season.
He was normally around 80-85 RBI and was one of the toughest strikeouts in the game. Grace was let go and went to Arizona in 2001 where he promptly won a World Series ring.
Second Base-Ryne Sandberg
Years of Service: 1982-1994 and 1996-1997
The only player on this list that is either in the Hall of Fame or has had his number retired by the Cubs. In my life, Ryno had five all star appearances, two 100+ RBI seasons, three .300+ seasons, and over 200 home runs since 1988.
Ryno will go down as one of the greatest Cubs of all time, on top of making this list.
Third Baseman-Aramis Ramirez
Years of Service: 2003-Present
After years of uncertainty and inconsistency at third base, the Cubs acquired Aramis Ramirez in 2003 from Pittsburgh, as well as Kenny Lofton and Randall Simon for next to nothing.
Aramis has been the only mainstay for either team in the deal, and has moved himself into a top tier third baseman.
He has hit well over 150 home runs in the time span, has two all star appearances, three seasons of at least 100 RBI, and has received some MVP votes in his time in Chicago.
Years of Service: 1985-1997
Not to take anything away from Shawon, but this pick was almost out of default. He was the only Cubs shortstop that started for more than two full seasons in the last twenty years and held his position well.
His average usually floated around the mid .200's and was around 50 RBI per year. He had decent speed and was even voted to two all star games.
Left Fielder-Moises Alou
Years of Service: 2002-2004
Only spending three years with the Cubs, I felt Moises Alou deserved the nod at Left Field. What seemed like a bust of a free-agent signing early on, Alou got better every year with the Cubs.
Hitting 39 homers and 106 RBI in his last year in 2004 was quite impressive. Most people remember Alou as the guy that peed on his hands and almost strangled Steve Bartman during the 2003 NLCS, but I won't forget the way he could hit a first pitch fastball 425 feet.
Center Fielder-Sammy Sosa
Years of Service: 1992-2004
Now I know you're wondering why I put Sammy as the Center fielder, and there are two reasons.
1. He did split time between right field and center in his first few seasons with the Cubs.
2. I couldn't leave Andre Dawson out as the Right Fielder (spoiler alert)
Despite the talk about steroids and the questions about the corked bat. Sammy is quite possibly the greatest Cubs hitter over the last twenty years.
Three 60+ home run seasons, seven All Star appearances, one MVP trophy, nine seasons in a row of at least 100 RBI, and the love of Cub fans across the world.
Although the legacy has been tarnished, Sosa (along with McGwire) made us all love baseball again in 1998 during the Home Run Race.
Corey Patterson (yes, that Corey Patterson)
Right Fielder-Andre Dawson
Years of Service: 1987-1992
Andre "The Hawk" Dawson spent six seasons with the Cubs, and was very impressive during his time there.
Named to five straight All-Star Games in his first five seasons with the Cubs easily earned him the spot, and the MVP trophy in his first year didn't hurt either.
In his MVP season, he posted a .287 average with 49 homers and 137 RBI. And even if he did drop off slightly from that in his last five years, he never had a season with fewer than 20 home runs or 75 RBI.
Sosa was already used, so no one.
Starting Rotation No. 1-Greg Maddux
Years of Service: 1986-1992 and 2004-2006
The obvious ace of the pitching rotation is the last Cy Young award winner the Cubs have had. Maddux arrived in 1986, but it wasn't until 1988 that he turned it up and made his first All Star appearance.
The Cubs foolishly let him go after the 1992 season, where he went to the Braves and made six All Star appearances and won an additional three Cy Young awards before returning to Chicago to win his 300th game.
Starting Rotation No. 2-Rick Sutcliffe
Years of Service: 1984-1991
Sutcliffe arrived during the 1984 season from the Indians. He had a couple of shaky years with the Cubs but was mainly a very good pitcher. He won the Cy Young award the season he was sent to the Cubs and came in second in voting in the 1987 season, also making two All Star appearances.
Sutcliffe developed some problems in 1990, winding down his career where he eventually went to Baltimore where he had two good seasons left in him before retiring with St. Louis
Starting Rotation No. 3-Carlos Zambrano
Years of Service: 2001-Present
Now that Kerry Wood is gone, Zambrano is now the longest tenured Cub. He burst onto the scene in 2003 where he helped the Cubs get to the playoffs with an 13-11 record.
Things have only gotten better for Zambrano, who has made three All Star appearances and is consistently in the 15 win range and normally is good for about 200 innings of work.
"Big Z" strikes out his fair share of batters as well, likely because he knows what hitters are thinking as Zambrano has 16 career home runs, all coming within the last six years.
Not to mention, he's the first Cubs since Milt Pappas to throw a No-Hitter.
Starting Rotation No. 4-Kerry Wood
Years of Service: 1998-2008
It's going to be sad to see Woody playing for Cleveland after spending his entire career with the Cubs. Shortly after winning the Rookie of the Year Award in 1998, Wood had to have Tommy John surgery that forced him to miss the entire 1999 season.
He never seemed to be right after that, although he did manage to put together some good seasons, especially in 2003 where he posted a 14-11 record including 266 strikeouts, and also four complete games.
Some people blame Dusty Baker for wearing out his arm, but he recovered nicely in 2008, saving 34 games in his only year as the Cubs closer.
Starting Rotation No. 5-Mark Prior
Years of Service: 2002-2006
Poor, poor, Mark Prior. What looked to be a fantastic and long career was sent into a tailspin in 2004 when he started having injury problems. In his first two seasons, he posted a 24-12 record and was off to a great start.
He looked as if he may bounce back after posting an 11-7 record in 2005, but the injuries started up again and the Cubs decided to cut ties in 2006. San Diego picked him up after that, but he hasn't played in a Major League game since then.
Honorable Mention for the Rotation:
Years of Service: 1998-1999
Rod Beck served as the Cubs closer for only one full season, but man what a season it was. The Shooter recorded 51 saves with an almost flat 3.00 ERA.
Rod Beck was someone that the fans loved, as he didn't look like a traditional ball player but he had a pretty good career before his unfortunate passing in 2007.