It has been a challenge to come up with a list of the top 10 Chicago Cubs of all time. The team has been around since 1876, after all. More than long enough to field scores of exceptional players. Though the club has only won 2 World Series titles in all that time, the last 100 years ago now, the Chicago Cubs have enjoyed their fair share of hall of fame players, and picking the top 10 Chicago Cubs of all time out of 138 years worth of baseball teams required an exhaustive search. Fans of the Chicago Cubs must have watched with bittersweet emotion when the Boston Red Sox finally ended the curse of the Bambino in 2004. Chicago Cub fans must have been jealous watching that, and depressed to now sit alone in their futility. Still, after 100 years without a World Series title, Boston’s victory may have given Chicago Cubs’ fans something they haven’t had in a long time: a spark of hope. Could this be the Chicago Cubs’ year? Who knows. Still, since it is the 100th anniversary since their last championship I figured it would be fitting to count down the top 10 Chicago Cubs of all time. Without further ado, here they are:
10 – Rogers Hornsby
When you have the greatest single season is Chicago Cubs’ history, you’ve earned a deserving spot on the list of the top 10 Chicago Cubs of all time. In 1929 Hornsby hit an eye-popping .380, had 39 homers, and added 149 RBI for good measure. Though he only played a few seasons for the Cubs, he is one of baseball’s all time legends, at one point averaging over .400 for a five year span.
9 – Gabby Hartnett
This catcher played all but one season of his great career with the Chicago Cubs. He is considered one of the greatest catchers in NL history on the defensive side of the ball, and his hitting numbers weren’t too shabby either. He finished his career with a .297 batting average, smacked out 236 homers, and batted in almost 1,200 runs, all records for catchers at the time. He won an NL MVP award, and had one of the most famous home runs in baseball history, belting out “The Homer in the Gloamin'” during a key game in the 1938 pennant drive. Good enough for a spot on the list of the top 10 Chicago Cubs of all time.
8 – Fergie Jenkins
This hall of fame pitcher was a star for the Chicago Cubs in parts of the 60s, 70s & 80s, winning a Cy Young award and competing in 3 All-star games along the way. He twice led the league in wins, in complete games 9 times and had a span of six straight seasons where he had 20 wins or more. Perhaps his most notable feat, however, was his percentage of strikeouts to walks. He is one of only 4 pitchers in baseball history to have more than 3,000 career strikeouts while allowing fewer than 1,000 walks.
7 – Mordecai Brown
Back to back pitchers on the list of the top 10 Chicago Cubs of all time, and one who actually got to taste World Series glory with the Cubs. Mordecai “Three Fingers” Brown was a starting pitcher for the Cubs between 1904 and 1912, a span that included their only 2 World Series titles in 1907 and 1908. Brown was one of the most dominant pitchers in MLB history, and his 2.06 career ERA is third lowest in the history of the sport. He also had 6 consecutive 20 win seasons, and pitched 20 innings during the 1907 and 1908 World Series, allowing 0 earned runs.
6 – Adrian Anson
We’re going way back in Chicago Cubs’ history to find this entry on the list of the top 10 Chicago Cubs of all time. “Cap” played for Chicago before they were even known as the Cubs. Back in the late 1800s they went by the White Stockings and the Colts before eventually settling on the Cubs. Not only did he play for the club, he managed them as well, leading them on and off the field. He led the league in RBI on 7 different occasions, won 2 batting titles, and was the first player in baseball history to hit 3 consecutive home runs.
5 – Ron Santo
This third basemen squeaks into the top half of the list of the top 10 Chicago Cubs of all time. A Cub for all but one of his seasons, Santo became the first 3rd baseman to hit 300 career home runs. He hit over .300 in 4 separate seasons, won 5 consecutive gold glove awards, and was a 9 time all-star. He accomplished all this while struggling with diabetes.
4 – Sammy Sosa
“Slammin’ Sammy” is one of the most memorable characters in the history of the Chicago Cubs, and his accomplishments provided great excitement for Cubs’ fans who’ve had little to cheer about for too long. In the 1998 season he had a legendary duel with Mark McGwire as both of them strove to break Roger Maris’s single season home run record. Sammy would beat Maris that year, but not McGwire. Still, his 66 home runs were nothing to sneeze at. Twice more during his career he would hit over 60, and he finished his career with 609 bombs. Good enough to be considered one of the top 10 Chicago Cubs of all time.
3 – Billy Williams
Another Cubs hall of famer, this outfielder was a dominant hitter for the Cubs in the 60s and 70s. He had 5 seasons where he hit over .300, hit 30 or more home runs on 5 different occasions, and went to 6 all-star games. He led the league in batting in 1972, finishing just behind the legendary Johnny Bench in MVP voting. He finished his great career with 426 home runs, and is easily one of the greatest, most consistent players to ever swing a bat for the Cubs.
2 – Ryne Sandberg
There should be no mystery who will fill the number 1 spot on the list of the top 10 Chicago Cubs of all time, but my selection at number 2 might raise some eyebrows. Still, I think Ryne Sandberg has the credentials to merit his selection here. He helped bring the Cubs back to respectability in the 80s, appearing in 10 consecutive all-star games, while winning 9 consecutive gold gloves along the way. He never seemed to make a mistake, and his .989 lifetime fielding average is a major league record for the 2nd base position. He was the 1984 NL MVP, was a perennial threat at the plate, hitting over .300 five times, and also showed some speed and cunning on the basepath, stealing over 30 bases on 5 occasions. Not only one of the greatest Chicago Cubs of all time, but one of the best 2nd basemen in MLB history.
1 – Ernie Banks
You don’t need to be a Cubs fan to know this guy’s name. Ernie Banks’ name is synonymous with the Chicago Cubs’ franchise, and he is an easy pick for the number 1 spot of the top 10 Chicago Cubs of all time. He won back to back MVP titles in 1958 & 1959, during a time when guys like Mays and Aaron were tearing up the league. He holds team records for games played, at bats, and total bases, and he smacked 512 home runs during his time with the club, including 277 as a short-stop, a major league record at the time of his retirement. He was an 11 time All-star, but like so many great Chicago Cubs never got a chance to taste World Series glory. Still, even without a World Series title on his resume there can be no question Ernie Banks is the greatest Chicago Cub ever.