The All Time 25 Modern Cubs Team

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The All Time 25 Modern Cubs Team
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

 

Wrigleyville has seen Cubs come and go for years.

The story of the Chicago Cubs dates back to the 1870's.

The Cubs won 11 of their 16 pennants before 1920.

Unless you are over 100 years old you can not remember a Chicago Cubs world championship.

Since there halcyon days, the Cubs have given Chicago and Cubs fans everywhere, heartbreak and very few triumphs.

The anatomy of a Cubs fan is different then any other fan. When things are so close you know something is about to go wrong.

One thing about this list is nothing should go wrong (or will.) The only thing that would will be your opinion of the best Cubs of the last 50 years.

So, nothing against Gabby Hartnett, Hack Wilson, Phil Cavarretta, Cap Anson, Hank Sauer, Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown, Joe Tinker, Johnny Evers, or Frank Chance, this is your mention as some of the greatest Cubs of all-time.

Now, my list of the greatest Cubs of the last 50 years.

 

The Infield

First Base

Mark Grace (1988-2000)

Watching No. 17 play first was always a treat.

He was a superlative defensive specialist winning Four Gold Gloves.

What most remember about Grace was he was a doubles machine. Mark Grace led MLB in total hits in the 1990s with 1,754.

Backing up Grace — Bill Buckner (1977-1984)

Yes, THAT Bill Buckner. He might not make an honorable mention on an all-time Red Sox team but "Billy Bucks" deserves a spot here.

Buckner excelled in Wrigleyville because he was a great contact hitter. He would go on to win the NL Batting Crown with the Cubs in 1980.

 

Second Base

Ryne Sandberg (1982-1997)

I recently was in WalMart and bought a pack of 2010 Topps Baseball Cards, in there was a Ryne Sandberg insert and it said on the back:

"If not for Ernie Banks, Ryne would certainly claim the nickname, "Mr. Cub." As it is, this Hall of Famer would have to settle for "Ryno."

The game that established him to Cubs fan everywhere was simply named, "The Sandberg Game."

On the NBC Game of the Week in 1984, the Cubs and Cardinals put on a game where offense was in no shortage.

The Cubs looked doomed trailing 9-8 in the bottom on the ninth with arguably the best closer in the game Bruce Sutter (more on him later) just mowing down the Cubs with his lethal split finger fastball.

Enter Ryno, who at that point was not known for his power but more for his glove. Sandberg smashed a solo shot to tie it at 9.

In the 10th, the Cards scored twice. In the bottom of the 10th with one on, Sandberg took the 1-1 pitcher from Sutter deep to tie the game at 11.

Eventually the Cubs would go on to win and Sandberg just took off and would win the 1984 NL MVP.

He would finish his career with 10 All Star selections, nine Gold Gloves, seven Silver Sluggers, a then record 123 game error-less streak, a plaque in Cooperstown and a spot on this list!

Backing up Sandberg - Ken Hubbs (1961-1963)

Ken Hubbs left the world too soon when he died in a plane crash in Utah.

Those old enough will tell you that he was the premier second basemen in the game. Hubbs won Rookie of the Year in 1962 and became the first rookie to win a Gold Glove.

 

Third Base

Ron Santo (1960-1973)

Anywhere he walks, he earns the respect of not only Cubs fans, but from the opposition or anyone who loves baseball.

In his playing days, Santo was in my opinion, the best third baseman in the game of baseball. He had power and maybe the best glove in Cubs history.

Santo set standards for defensive excellence by setting NL records for assists with 393 (Mike Schmidt would eventually brake his record.)

Santo could hit as well hitting over 300 home runs and driving in 1300 batters.

Santo often gets credit for the origination of the term, "Moon Shot."

In a game against the Phillies, he hit a home run that hit the roof of Connie Mack Stadium. When Santo finished rounding the bases Dick Selma the starter that day informed Santo that he hit that home run at the same time that man had landed on the moon.

Santo responded, "Don't worry about what happens when I hit a home run. Focus on pitching this game." Selma may have coined the term but Santo made the shot!

Backing up Santo - Aramis Ramirez (2003-present)

I wanted to put Bill Madlock here. I wanted to SO BAD! I love how the, "Mad Dog," did win two batting titles in three seasons with the Cubs, but the man I watch today is a third baseman that is just a beast, "A-Ram."

I remembered watching in Pittsburgh and knew he would be a monster.

I remember when I heard he was going to be a Cub, and when I found out the Cubs only gave up Bobby Hill (no not Hank Hill's son,) I knew the Cubbies got a great player.

Ramirez, a two time All Star selection won the 2008 Hank Aaron Award for outstanding offensive performer in the National League.

 

Shortstop

Ernie Banks (1953-1971)

No list of greatest Cubs isn't complete without Banks being named the greatest or No. One.

He is all-in-all, "Mr. Cub."

Banks accolades include being part of the 500 home run club, two-time NL MVP, Gold Glove, 11-time all star, the Cubs retiring his No. 14, coining the phrase, "Lets Play Two," a plaque in Cooperstown, and a spot on the MLB All Century Team.

If you need anymore explanation why Ernie Banks is here then this article isn't for you and you need to do some more research.

Backing Up Banks - Shawon Dunston (1985-1995)

You may argue that there are better Cubs short stops in the last 50 years but none of them had the "Shawon-O-Meter."

 

The Outfield

Billy Williams (1959-1974), Sammy Sosa (1992-2004), Andre Dawson (1987-1992)

Billy Williams earned the nickname, "Iron Man," when he set the National League record for most consecutive games play with 1,117 (since eclipsed by Steve Garvey.) Williams was consistent and earned the nickname, "Sweet Swingin' Billy from Whistler."

Williams hit for power hitting for his career 426 home runs. He was usually known as a superlative fielder making key catches in Kenny Holtzman's no hitter. He won the 1972 batting crown leading the NL with a .333 average.

Sweet Swingin' Billy was Rookie of the Year in 1961, was a six time All Star, honored by the Cubs with his No. 26 being retired and a plaque in Cooperstown.

"The Hawk," literally flew in Chicago.

A free agent who was looking for a new home because of knee injuries from the turf of Olympic Stadium.

Andre Dawson had wanted to be a Cub but then Cub GM Dallas Green didn't think Dawson would fit. So, Andre Dawson went to Cubs Spring Training in Arizona with a blank contract.

Green referred to the stunt by Dawson as a, "Dog and Pony" show. After reviewing what Dawson wanted Green took a flier on him.

Green looked like a genius at the end of the 1987 season.

Dawson had his finest season won 2/3 of the Triple Crown by hitting 49 home runs and 137 RBIs he won the NL MVP, Gold Glove, Silver Slugger.

"Slammin" Sammy as legendary Cubs broadcast Harry Caray named him could hit balls all over Waveland Ave.

Sosa was a seven-time All Star, six-time Silver Slugger, hit 60+ home runs three times, and won the 1998 NL MVP for his epic home run chase with St. Louis' Mark McGwire and leading the Cubs to an Wild Card playoff berth.

Sosa is the Cubs all-time home run leader with 545.

Backing Up "The Hawk," "Slammin Sammy," and "Sweet Swingin' Billy" - Alfonso Soriano (2007-present)

Most of Soriano's accolades have come before his Cubs time but still possesses the all-around ability that he must be on this team.

Soriano has the ability to hit for power and average. He can steal bases, he has exceptional defense, and has good range and solid arm.

The two-time Cub All Star selection continues to shine near the ivy.

 

The Backstop

At catcher I can not decide between these two.

Granted the catching position historically drops after Gabby Hartnett and these two to me are the same player and the 1a and 1b for the best catcher in the last 50 years.

1a Jody Davis (1981-1988)

Davis was the man behind the plate who help guide the Cubs to the NL East crown in 1984.

Davis was known in his career as a defensive liability and let by a ton of pass balls but would hone his skills and win a Gold Glove in 1986.

The two-time All Star was better known for his offense and developing patience at the plate.

1b Randy Hundley (1966-1973; 1976-1977)

While Davis was better hitting catcher since Gabby Hartnett, Hundley is widely considered the best defensive catcher since Gabby Hartnett.

Hundley set a standard in 1967 by committing only four errors and winning the Gold Glove.


The Rotation

No. One — Ferguson Jenkins (1966-1973/1982-1983)

No. Two — Greg Maddux (1986-1992/2004-2006)

No. Three — Rick Sutcliffe (1984-1991)

No. Four — Ken Holtzman (1965-1971)

No. Five — Rick Reuschel (1972-1981)

 

"Fergie" Jenkins, depending who you ask, is considered the greatest modern Cubs pitcher.

Jenkins just delivered victory after victory for the Cubbies winning 20 or more games six times.

Also remarkable is from 1968-1971, Fergie pitched atleast 300 innings and had 97 complete games during that run.

Jenkins finest season with the Cubs was in 1971. That season he won the Cy Young Award posting a 24-13 record, started 39 games and COMPLETED 30 of those starts, struck out 263 batters while only walking 37 batters.

The No. Two starter is the "Mad Dog" himself Greg Maddux.

Though Maddux's greatest seasons came pitching for the Atlanta Braves, he established himself as the staff ace in Chicago and help guide the Cubs to the 1989 NL East Division championship and winning the 1992 Cy Young Award pitching a 20-11 record with a 2.18 ERA.

Maddux would establish himself as the premier defensive pitcher of all-time winning six of his 18 gold gloves (winning in 1990-1992 and 2004-2006.)

Maddux along with Ferguson Jenkins would be honored by the Cubs by having their no. 31 jerseys retired.

Rick Sutcliffe, for the 1984 season alone, deserves a spot on this team. The "Red Baron" was struggling in Cleveland and the Cubs acquired him for Joe Carter and Mel Hall.

Sutcliffe responded after going 4-5 record and 5.15 ERA in Cleveland with a 16-1 record and 2.69 ERA and help capture the 1984 NL East Division Championship and Cy Young Award.

Sutcliffe would eventually go on and be a two-time All Star in Chicago and was a key starter for the 1989 team that would win the division.

Ken Holtzman in the 1960's with the Cubs would establish himself as one the elite southpaws in the game.

Holtzman was usually considered on par with Jerry Koosman of the Mets and Dodger legend Sandy Koufax.

Holtzman often by many wonder if not for active duty in the military what he could have done, especially in 1967.

That season Holtzman started only 12 games and did not lose a decision going 9-0.

Eventually Holtzman would become full time and post back-to-back 17 win campaigns in 1969-1970 and be the only modern Cubs pitcher with 2 no-hitters with the Cubs.

Rick Reuschel was known as "Big Daddy," pitching for the Cubs from 1972 to 1981. Considered one the of the most consistent starters during the time winning 14 or more games five times.

Reuschel's finest season was in 1977 when he was named to the All Star Game and won 20 games.

 

The Bullpen

Long Relievers

Kerry Wood (1998-2008) and Mark Prior (2002-2006)

In sports the most common question is "What If?"

Cubs fans still wonder today how good they would be if Wood and Prior would have maintained their 2003 form when the Cubs were only five outs away from the World Series.

Wood arrived in Chicago in 1998 and just like the "Windy City" struck out 20 Astros in a one hit shut-out. Wood would go on and win the Rookie of the Year.

During his time in Chicago he would strike out 200+ batters in four of his first five seasons including a career high 266 in 2003.

Mark Prior was supposed to be the next big thing. He had the stuff but injuries rattled the potential ace.

In 2003 though, you could not tell anyone that. Prior would go on the All Star Game and go 18-6 with a 2.43 ERA and 245 strike outs.

 

Relievers

Mitch Williams (1989-1990), Randy Myers (1993-1995)

In 1989, baseball fans watched the film "Major League" and wished they had the real "Wild Thing," Cubs fans knew they had the real thing in Mitch Williams.

Though pitched only two seasons in Chicago his efforts in 1989 that helped will the Cubs to the division championship can not be ignored saving 36 ball games for the Cubbies.

Randy Myers set the single season standard for relievers in 1993 with 53 saves. The southpaw was a two-time All Star saving a total of 112 games in Chicago.

 

Set Up

Lee Smith (1980-1987)

One of the games greatest relievers was the man in the Chicago.

He would go on to lead the majors in saves in 1983 saving 29 games and had a 1.65 ERA. Smith would save 180 games in Chicago.

 

Closer

Bruce Sutter (1976-1980)

Remember earlier in the article we mentioned him.

Yeah he let up the gopher balls to Ryne Sandberg in the now legendary, "Sandberg Game."

When Sutter was a Cub he established himself as a Hall of Fame caliber closer.

Sutter unleashed his split finger fastball to raving reviews from Cubs fans and annoying opponents.

Sutter would have his finest season in Chicago in 1979 capturing the Cy Young Award with 37 saves, 2.22 ERA and 110 strike outs in 101 innings pitched.

 

Obviously we all have our opinions on the best of the modern Ivy warriors but I can tell you this, these 25 players would together break the 100+ years of suffering.

 

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