Ultimate Cubs Lineup: Jim Deshaies
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 broadcaster Jim Deshaies provides his take:
I’ve decided to go rogue and have limited my lineup to players who played for the Cubs between 1920 (the end of the Deadball Era) and 1960. The Cubs had some great players during that period and don’t always get the love they deserve.
1. Kiki Cuyler – RF
2. Rogers Hornsby – 2B
3. Stan Hack – 3B
4. Ernie Banks – SS
5. Hack Wilson – CF
6. Phil Cavarretta – 1B
7. Hank Sauer – LF
8. Gabby Hartnett – C
9. Grover Cleveland “Old Pete” Alexander
Reliever: Mordecai “Three Fingers” Brown
Bench player: Bill Nicholson
This is a club that features 7 Hall of Famers. They all played most of their careers between 1920 and 1960 with the exception of “Three Fingers” Brown, whose career ended in 1916.
Most spent most — if not all — of their careers with the Cubs. Hornsby only played 4 seasons on the North Side, but batted .350 as a Cub. He is considered by many to be be the best right-handed hitter in MLB history.
Joining him as Hall of Famers on this team are: Cuyler, Banks, Wilson, Hartnett, Alexander and Brown. A glaring omission from this group is Hall of Fame second baseman Billy Herman who spent much more time with the Cubs than Hornsby, but I just couldn’t keep the “Rajah” off the club and I figured Hornsby was too irascible to have on the bench.
I put Bill Nicholson on the bench over Herman and others because he is a left-handed hitter and my lineup leans heavily to the right with only Hack and Cavarretta swinging from the left side.
Alexander as the starting pitcher was an easy choice. While the Cubs had a number of solid pitchers during this era, none can match the exploits of “Old Pete.” He posted a 2.84 ERA in 9 seasons with the Cubs, and his 1920 season was one of the best in history: 27-14 with a 1.91 ERA. That mark has only been bested once in team history — Jake Arrieta’s 1.77 ERA in 2015.
Cavarretta, Sauer, Hack and Nicholson are not Hall of Famers but combined to make 16 All-Star teams and Cavarretta and Sauer both won MVP awards as Cubs. Brown was primarily a starter, but like most of his era, he did work a fair amount in relief.
Be sure to check out all of our Ultimate Cubs Lineups!