Ultimate Cubs Lineup: Chris Myers
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’s Chris Myers weighed in:
1. Billy Williams – LF
2. Ryne Sandberg – 2B
3. Ernie Banks – SS
4. Sammy Sosa – RF
5. Mark Grace – 1B
6. Hack Wilson – CF
7. Ron Santo – 3B
8. Gabby Hartnett – C
9. Greg Maddux – P
Reliever: Lee Smith
Bench: Andre Dawson
Williams is a left-handed bat and the all-time hits leader for the Cubs, so I’m thinking he’s going to get hits and get on base and make it easier for the rest of the lineup. It was challenging trying to find that ideal leadoff man in the history of the organization, but I think Williams is a safe way to go. I’m judging this lineup not only on athletic ability and numbers, but steadiness and personality. He’s my leadoff guy.
Talking about guys that are steady and reliable, Sandberg does it all as the perfect No. 2 hitter. Also, the defense will save you run and help any pitching staff as a 9-time Gold Glover. This was one of the easier ones for me through the course of Cubs history.
I wrestled at shortstop — Javier Báez, to me, has all the makings of taking this, but I went with Ernie Banks. I never saw him play in person, but I interviewed him many times in the ’90s and he was full of sunshine. Plenty of power and I loved his attitude and what he would bring to a team. Banks had to be here, it was just a matter of where I was going to put him in the lineup.
I went with Sammy Sosa as the cleanup hitter in a game where power is everything. I wrestled with other guys to put in this spot and there were a lot to choose from. I would’ve liked a higher average here and a little more consistency, but when you want the longball and a guy that’s going to shake up and rattle a pitcher, Sosa is the guy and serves his purpose here.
Grace is one of my favorite guys and players. There were a lot of options for first base, but I went with him to hit 5th behind that cleanup spot. He’s a .300 career hitter, delivers doubles, 4 Gold Gloves for Grace — he’s the perfect fit and personality for this kind of team. I could’ve gone with Anthony Rizzo here. I think when his career does wrap up and the teams that he will have played for, you could say you could fit him in this lineup.
I never saw Wilson play, but the guy’s a Hall of Famer and you read about him and look at his numbers in center field. I could’ve put him in the cleanup spot, but I put him 6th here.
Santo would be higher in any other lineup and like Banks, when you think of the Cubs of any era, you think of Santo. He has a statue outside Wrigley and I love the way he played third base and had a great personality. I had a tough choice between him and Kris Bryant, but I ultimately chose Santo over the long haul of a career.
We’ll see how the current Cubs catchers’ careers play out, but Hartnett as an all-around talent would measure up to any other position, especially that position. He led catchers in throwing out runners, was the first catcher to reach the 20-homer level in a season and has a career average near .300. He probably could’ve hit anywhere in the lineup.
Ferguson Jenkins came to mind, but I saw more of Greg Maddux and I went with him. 18 Gold Gloves, 4 straight Cy Youngs and I like a guy who has a scientific, surgical approach to pitching. Maddux did that and that’s why he would be my starter for this lineup.
In the bullpen, we know Aroldis Chapman helped the World Series win for the Cubs and I was debating between Bruce Sutter and Smith, but ultimately chose Smith. He had a way of being intimidating and getting people out.
On the bench, you need versatility. We’ve mentioned some guys like Bryant and Báez who are Cubs currently, but I ended up with Andre Dawson. I considered taking him in the cleanup spot instead of Sosa. I think he’s a guy you can call on and pinch-hit in a key spot.
If I had to pick a manager, I’m thinking Joe Maddon with Lou Piniella maybe as a bench coach. That would be an interesting combination to handle this group and lead them forward.
Be sure to check out all of our Ultimate Cubs Lineups!