Ultimate Cubs Lineup: Ryan Sweeney
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?
Former Cubs outfielder and current Marquee Sports Network contributor Ryan Sweeney weighs in:
1. Kenny Lofton – CF
2. Andre Dawson – LF
3. Aramis Ramírez – 3B
4. Sammy Sosa – RF
5. Billy Williams – 1B
6. Ernie Banks – SS
7. Ryan Sandberg – 2B
8. Gabby Hartnett – C
9. Greg Maddux – P
Reliever: Jake Arrieta
Bench: Ben Zobrist
Lofton didn’t play for the Cubs long, but he was just a dynamic player. I look at these guys as in their prime, who would I want as a leadoff hitter? He was one of the guys that definitely stuck out in my mind and being a Braves fan growing up as a kid, he was one of my favorite players for sure.
Dawson is a great defensive player with huge power. I wanted him to get as many at-bats as possible behind Lofton.
Ramírez was a huge staple in the Cubs lineup for quite a long time. I feel like he can drive in a lot of runs with Kenny Lofton and Andre Dawson ahead of him.
With Sosa’s dynamic arm out there in the outfield and the power in the 4-hole, how could you not put Sosa in the cleanup spot in this lineup to try to win one game?
I have the Hall of Famer Williams coming in at first base in the 5-hole. I wanted to add a couple more left-handed bats in the middle of the lineup to separate some of the right-handed hitters.
I think we forget how good Banks was, especially at the shortstop position. To put up the numbers for how many years he did is pretty impressive.
Anytime you think of the Cubs, you think of Ryne Sandberg. He’s a Hall of Famer, went to many, many All-Star games with the Cubs and is a great defensive second baseman. I could’ve switched Banks and Sandberg in the 6- and 7-hole, but I’m loving those guys up the middle.
I didn’t know much about Hartnett, but looking back at his career, he was a staple behind the plate and I wanted to add one of the older guys. He’s one of the best catchers the Cubs have ever had.
I wanted to get a ground ball pitcher in there and in a big game, I wanted Maddux in there. He has good location and can maybe get those guys to ground out a little more with the good defense.
Adding the old with the new and guys that recently played with the Cubs, I feel like Arrieta could throw a lot harder coming out of the bullpen. And I also wanted a pitcher that if I needed to come in and hit in a situation, I knew he could handle the bat and get a bunt down or possibly get a big hit or a home run trying to win that one game.
I could’ve picked a few guys at the bench spot like Javy Báez. I picked Zobrist because I’m trying to win one game and if I need a guy to come in and pinch-hit, he’s been there and done that. He’s a switch-hitter and can come in at any position, so I wanted that versatility.
Be sure to check out all of our Ultimate Cubs Lineups!