2016 was a remarkable year for the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs did something that ESPN thought they’d never do: Win The World Series (OR EVEN WIN THE PENNANT!). The Cubs World Series victory will perhaps be the best victory Chicago Cubs fans’ have ever seen. The most important part of that victory was the players who got them to the championship. Even before 2016 there was always a great lineup of Cubs’ players (even if they were part of that “Loveable Losers” era of the Cubs). So we’re going to check them out today in the Top 10 Best Cubs Players. And more than ever, if you don’t think these are the greatest players, that’s great, it’s just my usual personal opinion to which we’re all entitled. I’m glad you can see the good in these players that I’m not able to. Anyway onto the countdown!
10. Mordecai Brown - Born: October 19, 1876, Died: February 14, 1948.
Played for: St. Louis Cardinals 1903-1904, Chicago Cubs 1904-1912, Cincinnati Reds 1912-1913, St. Louis Terriers 1913-1914, Brooklyn Tip-Tops 1914-1915, Chicago Whales 1915-1916, Chicago Cubs 1916-1916.
Mordecai Brown is one of the fewest players remembered as a member of the 1907-1908 World Series’ victories of the Chicago Cubs. There should be no Cubs top ten lists that could possibly leave out Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown. Brown earned his nickname for losing two of his fingers in a farming accident in his youth and while working in the mining community of Nyesville, Indiana. Mordecai spent his youth on the baseball diamond where he used his oddly-shaped hand to throw one of the greatest curveballs in baseball history. Brown pitched for the Chicago Cubs for over a decade compiling a 188-86 record with a 1.80 ERA. Brown started in 241 games for the Cubs and had 206 complete games which in this day and age could possibly never be repeated. He was on the team’s last two World Series championship teams in 1907 and 1908, winning 49 combined games over those 2 seasons. Brown also led the Cubs to the 1906 World Series (despite losing to cross state rival Chicago White Sox) with a 26-6 record and a 1.04 ERA in 277 ⅓ innings. Brown should always be remembered as being a leader in the last time Cubs fans saw a World Series before 2016.
9. Sammy Sosa - Born: November 12, 1968.
Played for: Texas Rangers: 1989-1989, Chicago White Sox: 1989-1991, Chicago Cubs: 1992-2004, Baltimore Orioles: 2005-2006, Texas Rangers: 2006-2007.
One of the most controversial choices I’ve put on my list, Sammy Sosa, despite his performance enhancement drug issues and cork in bat incidents, has been one of my most favorite Cubs players. Sammy Sosa was the player that always made me go outside when I was young, pick up my wiffle ball and bat, and start swinging for the trees in the park outside of my backyard. Sosa’s biggest accomplishment will always be his amazing season in 1998 and big home run years that followed. Sosa hit 66 home runs and knocked in 158 runs for the Cubbies in 1998 to lead the Cubs to their first playoff appearance since 1989. He added 63 home runs in 1999 and had 64 dingers in 2001. Sosa played 13 seasons in Chicago with a team-record of 545 home runs along with adding 1,414 RBIs in 1,811 games. I originally wanted Moises Alou at number 9; but, when I tossed out the idea, I slammed my Chromebook lid on my fingers because my mother is still mad at Alou for the “incident”.
8. Greg Maddux - Born: April 14, 1966.
Played for: Chicago Cubs: 1986-1992, Atlanta Braves: 1993-2003, Chicago Cubs: 2004-2006, Los Angeles Dodgers: 2006-2006, San Diego Padres: 2007-2008, Los Angeles Dodgers: 2008-2008.
I realize that Greg Maddux is more popularly remembered for his time on the Atlanta Braves. I will admit he accomplished much more with the Braves having brought them their first and only World Series title in their franchise’s history. But aside from his time in Atlanta, Maddux will be more remembered for his time with the Chicago Cubs. Maddux spent a fair amount of time with them in the late 80s and he did make a comeback in 2004, but didn’t get as far as he did with the Braves. Maddux would be a lot lower on this list if he would’ve stayed in Chicago for his entire career. Maddux pitched 10 seasons with the Cubs from 1986-1992 and then again from 2004-2006 with a record of 133-112 and a 3.61 ERA during his time in Chicago. Maddux won the first of his four straight Cy Young Awards with the Cubs in 1992 before leaving as a free agent after that season. It is a move that has haunted Cubs fans ever since, and feels almost as bad when Bill Wirtz threw away Bobby Hull for profit (it feels even worse after seeing what Maddux did as a member of the Atlanta Braves). Maddux's return in 2004 was met with great praise and fanfare and he was rewarded with a 2014 Hall Of Fame induction as one of the top five right-handed pitchers of all time.
7. Kerry Wood - Born: June 16, 1977.
Played for: Chicago Cubs: 1998, 2000-2008, Cleveland Indians: 2009-2010, New York Yankees: 2010-2010, Chicago Cubs: 2011-2012.
I find Kerry Wood to be one of the most friendliest Cubs I’ve met. When I first met Wood at an autograph signing in 2012, he seemed like he wanted to talk to me for HOURS and that was perfectly okay with me. Looking back on it, when Kerry Wood first stepped on the Wrigley Field mound in 1998, he was looked at by Cubs’ fans as the pitcher who was destined to take the Cubs to a long-awaited World Series title. Wood's 20 strikeout performance in his fifth career start raised even more expectations and while he didn’t get the Cubs a title, he is looked at today as one of not only the greatest Cubs’ pitchers of all time. Wood pitched 12 seasons for the Cubs with an 80-68 record, 35 saves as a reliever, and a 3.67 ERA. While he was constantly on the move having pitched for 2 other teams later in his career, Wood will always be a member of the Cubs’ family and have a place in the hearts of Cubs fans around Chicago.
6. Fergie Jenkins - Born: December 13, 1942.
Played for: Philadelphia Phillies: 1965-1966, Chicago Cubs: 1966-1973, Texas Rangers: 1974-1975, Boston Red Sox: 1976-1977, Texas Rangers: 1978-1981, Chicago Cubs: 1982-1983.
Like the Batman and Robin duo, there was the Ron Santo and Fergie Jenkins duo. Jenkins was perhaps the ace of the 1969 Cubs staff, pitching 10 seasons for the Cubs with a 167-132 record and a 3.20 ERA to go along with 154 complete games. Jenkins won 20 games for 6 straight seasons from 1967-1972, including a 24-win season in 1971 where he had a career-high 30 complete games with 39 starts. However, Jenkins faced a series of legal issues but was always out there for his team every fourth day and started 42 games during that fateful 1969 season. However, it would end at the hands of yet another curse along with the Billy Goat. Jenkins' outstanding performance led him to a Hall Of Fame induction and he ended his career on a high note with the Cubs in 1983.
5. Ron Santo - Born: February 25, 1940 Died: December 3, 2010.
Played for: Chicago Cubs: 1960-1973, Chicago White Sox: 1973-1974.
Ron Santo is the first Cubs player I think of whenever anybody mentions the Chicago Cubs. There is no other player on the Chicago Cubs that Cubs fans young and old know other than Ron Santo. Santo may have been the longest player to have ever played for the Cubs, spending 14 seasons before being traded to crosstown rival the Chicago White Sox. Not only recognized for his achievements at the plate, Santo also managed to be the team’s commentator on the radio from 1990 until his passing in 2010. Ron Santo struggled with diabetes throughout his life and held a walk in Chicago since 1979 to benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). Santo hit 337 home runs and knocked in 1,331 runs for the Cubs while playing 3rd base. Santo's death was a devastating heartbreak, shattering the hearts of millions just as much as Walter Payton. But despite Sanot's death, his legacy will live on with his own statue outside Wrigley Field and is still idolized as perhaps the greatest Cubs player that ever played.
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