Ultimate Cubs Lineup: Andrew Belleson
What if you were tasked with winning one — and only one — baseball game and you were responsible for putting together the lineup to get you that W?
Here’s the thing: You can only form the lineup from guys who have suited up for the Cubs, even if it was for only one game or part of one season. This isn’t a list of the greatest Cubs players. It’s the Ultimate Cubs Lineup to win one big game.
That means you can select Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown (who pitched for the Cubs from 1904-1912 and again in 1916) or Anthony Rizzo (who led the Cubs to end the 108-year World Series drought).
You can choose Hall of Famers, All-Stars, role players, whoever. You can prioritize power, contact, defense, intangibles or whatever you think is necessary to win this one imaginary game. You can even hit the pitcher 8th or anywhere you see fit in the lineup.
Since the Cubs are a National League team, we are forming the roster with no designated hitter. To add another wrinkle of strategy, you can select one reliever to come in after the starting pitcher and one player off the bench who could come into the game at any point.
So which 11 current or former Cubs would you choose to go to battle with in a must-win game?
Cubs public address announcer Andrew Belleson provides his take:
I’ve decided to have a little fun with this! I think that you could realistically construct hundreds of “Ultimate” lineups from the plethora of talent the Cubs have had in their storied history. With that said, I’ve tried to include some mainstays, along with some players that may have otherwise been overlooked. Nonetheless, I feel that this lineup would hold its own in ANY must win game!
1. Juan Pierre – CF
2. Mark Grace – 1B
3. Ernie Banks – SS
4. Hack Wilson – RF
5. Billy Williams – LF
6. Ron Santo – 3B
7. Jody Davis – C
8. Kenny Hubbs – 2B
9. Fergie Jenkins – P
RP: Rod Beck
Bench: Lenny Harris
Juan played on the North Side for just one season (2006) but it was a good one. He led the league in hits with 204 and also stole 58 bases. I’m of the old school mentality when it comes to having the “prototypical” leadoff hitter of yesteryear; able to get on base regularly, rarely strikes out, has good speed. Juan checked all of those boxes as a great table setter. Not to mention, he played 162 games for 5 seasons in a row from 2003-2007. The knock on him came on the defensive side of the ball, but I’m willing to overlook a lack of arm strength for everything he brings at the top.
Yes, I’m biased with this one. Grace is undoubtedly my favorite player of all time. I was an ’80s baby born in the Chicago suburbs who also happened to be a lefty first baseman. No brainer for me. Despite everything he accomplished (’90s hits leader, multiple Gold Glove winner, World Series champion), he’s still under appreciated. Despite the lefty-lefty combo at the top, I love Pierre and Grace as my 1-2 punch.
You can’t have an Ultimate Cubs Lineup with “Mr. Cub.” That’s a fact. The only question is, where does he play? SS is obviously the first thought, however he actually played more career games at first base. In this particular lineup, however, SS it is.
It’s awfully hard to argue with a player that had 1,063 RBI in just 1,348 games played. Not to mention 100+ driven in during each season from 1926-1930 including a mind boggling 191 in 1930. He also clobbered 177 home runs during that same stretch. All the while maintaining an OBP of over .400 for his career. I know he played predominantly CF during his time with the Cubs, but with that stick I figured sliding him over to RF was OK.
How do you create an Ultimate Cubs Lineup and leave off HOFer Billy Williams?! The numbers speak for themselves. If I’m starting a team, I’m drafting Billy with my first pick. He’s one of the kindest individuals you’ll ever meet. He also just so happens to have one of the sweetest swings in baseball history.
This was a coin flip for me between Ron and Kris Bryant. It’s a win-win situation if you ask me. With that said, the coin landed on Santo. It’s awfully hard to argue with the numbers he put up on both sides of the ball, especially considering he played on some pretty bad Cubs teams. That never deterred him from playing with that fiery passion, though.
Your catcher is the manager on the field, right? He’s calling the shots. They’re leaders. For that reason, I have Jody Davis hitting 6th behind the plate. Jody has a great run on the North Side. He’s a Gold Glove winner and an All-Star as well. In ‘86 he led all NL catchers in putouts, assists, and runners caught stealing. Honorable mention goes to “The Rebel” Randy Hundley on this one as well.
I understand this one might be a bit obscure! I realize this is a lineup to win just one big game, and surely Javy Báez and Ryne Sandberg are no brainers to fill the void at 2B. However, there’s no telling how much success Hubbs could have had at the big-league level. He was the ‘62 NL Rookie of the Year and Gold Glove winner that same season. He was just 21 years old when he played his last game in the bigs in 1963. The sky was the limit for Hubbs, which is why I wanted him at 2B in my Ultimate Lineup.
Having Fergie start for me makes total sense. He’s an innings machine, a true workhorse. More importantly, he isn’t going to give up any free bases. Fergie walked just 997 batters in over 4,500 career innings! Couple that with over 3,000 strikeouts and you’ve got a feat accomplished by just a handful of pitchers EVER. Plus, he could hit, too! Fergie belted 6 home runs for the Cubs in 1971, and also drove in 20. Not bad output from the pitcher’s spot.
Need a timely hit in a pinch? Lenny Harris is your guy. He’s the all-time leader, as a matter of fact, with 212 of them. Arguably one of the most difficult roles to play in baseball, Lenny made it look easy! Although he played only 75 games on the North Side, he’s the guy I want coming off my bench in a tight, late inning spot.
There may be more reliable choices, but nobody made things more interesting than the late great “Shooter.” I’ve always felt that a good closer has to have the right mentality and Beck had just that. He just looked intimidating out there, with the dangling arm and the bushy Fu Manchu. Plus, he saved 51 games for that ‘98 Wild Card team that shocked us all.
Be sure to check out all of our Ultimate Cubs Lineups!