Ultimate Cubs Lineup: Matt Spiegel
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?
670 The Score’s Matt Spiegel weighed in:
1. Lou Brock – LF
2. Anthony Rizzo – 1B
3. Ernie Banks – SS
4. Hack Wilson – CF
5. Andre Dawson – RF
6. Ron Santo – 3B
7. Ryne Sandberg – 2B
8. David Ross – C
9. Greg Maddux – SP
Reliever: Bruce Sutter
Bench: Javier Báez
Brock: Right off the bat, we have a fun one, based on his non-Cubs career. I’ll take the Cardinals’ Brock from 1971-1974, who hit .306 with a .369 OBP, and averaged about 78 stolen bases per season in those 4 years. With the rest of the pop coming in this lineup, I just need him to get on and run like crazy. Betting if he goes, we’ll go.
Rizzo: A lot of options here, and I’m sorry Mark Grace. But Rizzo is a potent, consistent slugger, who also happens to be one of the best 2-strike hitters in the league. He’s selfless when necessary, a must for the 2-hole in my lineup. And defensively, he’s the aggressive captain of the infield with the ability to walk on walls for foul pops, and fearlessly charge bunts to get force outs.
Banks: Best Cub ever. Only shortstop to win back to back MVPs. His positional flexibility lets me keep Rizzo at 1st. And when we have a postgame party at Harry Caray’s, Ernie is going to beat us all there and secure the finest table.
Wilson: 56 homers and 191 RBI in 1930! ONE HUNDRED AND NINETY ONE RBI. In fact, Hack Wilson picked up an extra RBI in 1999 when the commissioner ruled they’d run the stats wrong. If the man can drive in a run 69 years after his best season, he can play this game for me.
Dawson: Sammy Sosa’s best years were better than Dawson’s. But I’ll take Andre’s arm, his overall instincts, and his character too. Look, Sammy is liable to leave this game early. And his loud clubhouse music might be a distraction.
Santo: Kris Bryant, just not enough time yet to beat out the heel-clicker. Santo made 9 All-Star teams, drove in more than 1,300 runs, finished Top 10 in MVP 4 times and won 5 Gold Gloves to get the defensive edge too. Apologies to Bill Madlock too, but this spot is Ronnie’s.
Sandberg: All due respect to the legendary Rogers Hornsby, give me the gamer that I know. Sandberg is going to show up, be intense and play with zero fear. Hell, he could homer twice in extras if we need it.
Ross: Laugh at me. Go ahead. Then tell me this team needs more offense…it doesn’t. Tell me Gabby Hartnett was better…sure the numbers say he was, but you have never seen a single highlight. Then imagine this game being tight in the late innings, and this team of stars needs a kick in the ass. Who’s a better dugout/clubhouse leader? There is none. Plus, I bet Maddux would love to throw to him.
Maddux: Arrieta’s 2015 might be the best Cubs starting pitcher year ever. Fergie deserves consideration. I could theoretically choose Kerry Wood for that one May day in 1998. But give me Maddux, the smartest starting pitcher who ever lived. He’ll draw weak contact all day long. Plus, he’ll field his position flawlessly, and probably get a hit or two.
Sutter: He gets the nod over a couple of Cubs who were downright historically great elsewhere: Wade Davis as a Royal and Dennis Eckersley as an Oakland A. Those two put up maybe the best seasons for closers ever, but Sutter knows Wrigley, Cubdom, and throws the nastiest split fingered fastball in history.
Báez: He can’t start over Ernie or Ryno, but he can back up those two spots and play…anywhere. You know he could do anything. You saw him catch his quarantined brother-in-law José Berrios a few weeks back, right? So he comes in to pinch run for Rizzo at some point, then Banks moves to first and Javy finishes at SS. So many options. And you just KNOW he’s going to be in like 3 big plays before this game is out.
Be sure to check out all of our Ultimate Cubs Lineups!