Major League Baseball is asking for fans to vote on the four players who best represent the history of each franchise. And the players that receive the most votes will be revealed at the All-Star Game in Cincinnati on July 14.
Some of the best players in the history of the game have played for the Cubs at one point during their career. But when one talks about the best players in the history of the Chicago National League Ball Club, several come to mind without having to give it too much thought.
MLB posted eight players for fans to decide which four are the top players in Cubs franchise history: Ernie Banks, Mordecai ‘Three Finger’ Brown, Gabby Hartnett, Ferguson Jenkins, Ryne Sandberg, Ron Santo, Sammy Sosa and Billy Williams.
Mr. Cub and the greatest player in franchise history … Ernie Banks was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1977 after putting up unbelievable numbers for a shortstop before moving to first base where he ended his career in 1971.
Banks won back-to-back NL MVP Awards in 1958 and 1959 for two fifth place teams. Banks hit 40 or more home runs in four straight seasons and in five of six years from 1955-60.
Mordecai ‘Three Finger’ Brown
‘Three Finger’ Brown is arguably the best pitcher to ever throw a ball for the Chicago Cubs. Brown was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1949, a year after he passed away. Brown was pivotal in the franchise’s success in the early 20th Century and helped the Cubs win back-to-back World Series Championships in 1907 and 1908.
Brown pitched 14 years in the Major Leagues and three years in the Federal League, including one season with the Chicago Whales. During his 10 years with the Chicago Cubs, Brown was 188-86 in 346 games, 241 starts, with a 1.80 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 2.21 FIP. Brown not only won 188 games but he also saved 39.
In 1908, Mordecai Brown was 29-9 in 44 games, 31 starts, with a 1.47 ERA and 0.84 WHIP. Brown completed 312 1/3 innings during the championship season.
Gabby Hartnett could be the most overlooked player in Cubs’ history. Hartnett is by far the best catcher to ever put on the tools of ignorance for the franchise. Harnett was enshrined in Cooperstown in 1955.
‘Old Tomato Face’ was the NL MVP in 1935, the year the Cubs won the pennant under Charlie Grimm but lost the World Series to the Tigers four games to two.
Harnett played his entire 20-year career with the Cubs. In 1990 games (1793 as a catcher), Hartnett managed a .297/.370/.858 line with 396 doubles, 64 triples and 236 home runs. Harnett walked more times (703) over his career than he struck out (697) and finished with a .858 OPS.
One of the better trades in team history put Ferguson Jenkins at the top of the Cubs rotation in 1966. The Cubs acquired Jenkins from the Phillies on April 21, 1966 along with John Herrnstein and Adolfo Phillips for Bob Burl and Larry Jackson.
Fergie Jenkins is one of four Cubs from the immensely popular ’69 team in the Hall of Fame. Jenkins was elected by the BBWAA in 1991. And Jenkins is one of four pitchers to finish his career with 3,000 or more strikeouts and less than 1000 walks.
Jenkins posted six 20-win seasons for the Cubs from 1967-1972 and made 40 or more starts in three straight years from 1968-1970. Jenkins was traded to the Rangers on October 25, 1973 for Vic Harris and Bill Madlock.
During his two stints and 10 years with the Cubs (1966-73, 1982-83), Ferguson was 167-132 in 401 games, 347 starts, with a 3.20 ERA, a 1.12 WHIP and 3.06 FIP.
Ryne Sandberg played all but 13 games of his career with the Cubs after Dallas Green acquired him from the Phillies in what is viewed as the best trade in franchise history. Sandberg tops the list of second basemen that’s played for the Cubs and he’s in the conversation as one of the best second sackers in the history of the game.
Sandberg was acquired from the Phillies along with Larry Bowa for Ivan DeJesus on January 27, 1982 and was the NL MVP in 1984 for the National League Eastern Division Champions.
Over 15 seasons with the Cubs, Sandberg collected 2386 hits in 2164 games with 403 doubles, 76 triples and 282 home runs (.285/.344/.452) for a .795 OPS.
Ryne Sandberg was the NL Gold Glove second baseman from 1983-91 and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2005.
Ernie Banks is Mr. Cub and Ron Santo is The Cub. Santo was simply one of the best third basemen to ever play the game when he retired. And not being enshrined in Cooperstown until after he passed away is one of the biggest oversights by baseball and the writers. Santo should have been able to enjoy his day, period.
Ron Santo is remembered more for his time on the radio with the great Pat Hughes, a future Hall of Famer in his own right. Santo played 14 of his 15 seasons on the North Side with the Cubs and batted .279/.366/.472 with 353 doubles, 66 triples and 337 home runs for a .838 OPS. Santo led the NL in triples in 1964 and took home a Gold Glove in five straight seasons (1964-68).
Sammy Sosa was the face of the Chicago Cubs for more than a decade and helped bring baseball back, along with Mark McGwire in 1998 with the historic home run chase. Sosa’s legacy was tarnished by steroid allegations and he is presently estranged from the Cubs.
Sammy Sosa put up eye popping numbers during the PED Era while he was with the Cubs. And for many of those seasons, he was the only reason to watch the team. Over 13 years with the Cubs, Sammy Sosa batted .284/.358/.569 with 296 doubles, 32 triples and 545 home runs for a .928 OPS.
If Sammy Sosa is voted as one of the four faces of the Cubs, ownership will be forced to address the situation with Sosa.
Sweet Swingin’ Billy Williams was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1987. Williams played all but two seasons of his 18-year career with the Cubs. Williams was as consistent as any player in the big leagues during his career. Williams didn’t hit lower than .275 during a full season with the Cubs while playing every day. Williams finished second in NL MVP voting following the 1972 season. Williams led the Senior Circuit in batting average (.333), slugging percentage (.606) and on-base plus slugging percentage (1.005).
In 16 years and 2213 games with the Cubs, Billy Williams batted .296/.364/.503 with 402 doubles, 87 triples and 392 home runs for a .867 OPS. And Williams walked (911) almost as many times as he struck out (934) during his career with the Cubs.