Ultimate Cubs Lineup: Bruce Levine
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?
Marquee Sports Network and 670 The Score baseball analyst Bruce Levine gives his take:
1. Ryne Sandberg – 2B
2. Anthony Rizzo – 1B
3. Billy Williams – LF
4. Ernie Banks – SS
5. Kris Bryant – 3B
6. Andre Dawson – RF
7. Andy Pafko – CF
8. Gabby Hartnett – C
9. Greg Maddux – P
Reliever: Bruce Sutter
Bench player: Javy Báez
Sandberg: The element of speed and power makes him the choice in this winner-take-all game.
Rizzo: The guy can homer, walk or get hit by a pitch. Best defensive first baseman in Cub history (apologies to Mark Grace).
Williams: Clutch hitting — average and power.
Banks: Mr. Cub played his first 7 years at SS. Great hands, fair range and a home run master.
Bryant: My toughest choice over Ron Santo. Bryant’s speed, power and versatility would allow the manager to move him around in this winner-take-all event.
Dawson: Another tough one over Sammy Sosa. Dawson’s power and defense gives him the edge with only one bench player available.
Pafko: Good hitter and defender, clutch performer.
Hartnett: In a class by himself as leader behind the plate and power bat
Maddux: Would have gone with “Three Finger” Brown but Maddux is my man for one game must-win. No tougher competitor.
Sutter: I hate to pass on big Lee Smith but Sutter for one game at his best during his Cub years was virtually impossible to hit.
Bench: Báez over Zobrist. Baez could play any position at a Gold Glove level if he came in to pinch hit.
Be sure to check out all of our Ultimate Cubs Lineups!