Ultimate Cubs Lineup: Pete McMurray
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?
WGN Radio Chicago’s Pete McMurray weighs in:
1. Kenny Lofton – CF
2. Mark Grace – 1B
3. Ryne Sandberg – 2B
4. Ernie Banks – SS
5. Sammy Sosa – RF
6. Billy Williams – LF
7. Gabby Hartnett – C
8. Ron Santo – 3B
9. Greg Maddux – P
Reliever: Lee Smith
Bench: Javy Báez
1. Kenny Lofton – Kenny, in my opinion, was the best leadoff hitter in Cubs history. The guy could get on base, steal, hustle and do what he could to score. Kenny manufactured runs, could make soup – you name it, he could do it if it meant scoring a run. I love the guy and that’s why he’s our leadoff hitter. #HeWasFAST
2. Mark Grace – Gracey could hit, get on base and really never got enough credit for it. He could field with 4 Gold gloves and was a 3-time All-Star. Gracey had 2,201 hits in his career, a .308 batting average, an OPS of .832 and he ran like he had a piano on his back. Plus, he’d smoke cigs during the game and I would see him at Hightops & Murphy’s Bar after a win. #TheBest
3. Ryne Sandberg – The Sandberg Game alone (against Bruce Sutter) seals it for a lot of people. But this guy was so good. 9 straight Gold Gloves, 10 straight All-Star appearances and an MVP during that magical 1984 season. There was another #23 on the North Side, and his name was Ryno. #Ryno
4. Ernie Banks – There’s a reason No. 14 is Mr. Cub and batting cleanup – 512 home runs and 1,636 RBI. Let’s drive in TWO, Ernie! #MrCub
5. Sammy Sosa – At the time, Sosa delivered. 609 Home runs, 1,667 RBI, he brought energy – he may show up with a corked bat on occasion, but Sammy was our guy in the 90’s. #Juiced
6. Billy Williams – Billy was the ’61 Rookie of the Year, a 6-time All-Star, .290 BA, 392 HR and 2,510 hits AND a GREAT outfielder. Plus, a helluva guy. #SweetSwinging
7. Gabby Hartnett – Gabby was the best catcher in Cubs history. 6 time All-Star, 1935 MVP and a cannon for an arm. Not sure what more you want. #TheEnd
8. Ron Santo – Ronnie was a .277 hitter with 342 home runs, 2,254 hits, 1,331 RBI and a career OPS of .826. His Cubby Blue enthusiasm oozed out of his pours. We all loved Ronny. #10
9. Greg Maddux – Maddux was a mechanical workhorse. In ‘92, he had 20 wins and posted 17 straight seasons with 15 or more wins (whaaaaaaa), was an 8-time All-Star, 4-time Cy Young winner – IN A ROW (yes, in a row), 18-time Gold Glove winner and Hall of Famer. My favorites were his 1995 and 1997 seasons when Maddux only gave up 23 and 20 walks, respectively. FOR THE SEASON! He was simply awesome. #WishHeWouldveStayed
Reliever – Lee Smith. Smith had 180 of his 478 saves as a Cub. In ’84, ’85, ’86 and ’87, Smith had 30 or more saves per season. 7-time All-Star, 4-time saves leader and Hall of Famer. Plus, he could play center for the Bulls if they needed him. #BigLee
Bench – Javy Báez. Javy brings speed, hitting and energy. He can come off the bench any time during the game and be ready. #ElMago
Be sure to check out all of our Ultimate Cubs Lineups!