Ultimate Cubs Lineup: George Will
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?
Political columnist and baseball fan George Will provided his thoughts:
OK, here goes. But first, some ground rules.
I think any player included should have played, if not most of his games, then a significant portion of his career, with the Cubs. That is, two Hall of Famers — Ralph Kiner and Richie Ashburn — cannot be considered. (Kiner’s distinction is to have been part of perhaps the slowest outfield in MLB history — Hank Sauer, Frankie Baumholtz and Kiner.) Rogers Hornsby is the greatest right-handed hitter ever, but played just three significant seasons with the Cubs.
Andre Dawson, however, although he played more games with Montreal than with the Cubs, played enough in the North Side to be eligible. Greg Maddux is the greatest pitcher to wear a Cub uniform, but he is a Brave, period.
Mordecai Brown poses another problem — evaluating stats from the Deadball era. Sammy Sosa is ineligible because he cheated. Finally, I am just picking the three best outfielders, regardless of left, right or center.
[Editor’s note: Since Dawson played a decent portion of his career in center while Williams and Nicholson were anchored in left and right, respectively, we aligned the outfield that way.]
1. Billy Williams – LF
2. Ron Santo – 3B
3. Ernie Banks – SS
4. Andre Dawson – CF
5. Ryne Sandberg – 2B
6. Phil Cavarretta – 1B
7. Gabby Hartnett – C
8. Bill Nicholson – RF
9. Fergie Jenkins – P
Relief pitcher: Mordecai Brown
Bench player: Anthony Rizzo
Be sure to check out all of our Ultimate Cubs Lineups!