Ultimate Cubs Lineup: Sean Marshall
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 pitcher and current Marquee Sports Network contributor Sean Marshall provides his lineup:
1. Kenny Lofton – CF
2. Javier Báez – 3B
3. Rogers Hornsby – SS
4. Ernie Banks – 1B
5. Sammy Sosa – RF
6. Billy Williams – LF
7. Ryne Sandberg – 2B
8. Willson Contreras – C
9. Greg Maddux – SP
Reliever: Aroldis Chapman
Bench Guy: Ron Santo
Batting leadoff and playing center field, I chose Kenny Lofton for one obvious reason: He’s one of the best leadoff hitters of all time. He had only a brief tenure as a Chicago Cub in 2003 but in his career, he accumulated 622 stolen bases, was a 6-time All-Star, 4-time Gold Glove winner and played in 11 different postseasons. An honorable mention to my leadoff spot was the Cubs’ version of the “Best Leadoff Hitter of All-Time” Anthony Rizzo, but I stuck with the more traditional version this go around.
Batting second, playing third base and one of the most exciting baseball players I have ever seen play is Javier Báez. A superior defender, a clutch hitter and a player with an uncanny ability to get the job done (especially in the postseason), he was the perfect fit to bat second or even leadoff for my team.
Batting third and playing shortstop is Rogers Hornsby, who played for the Cubs between 1929-1932. Probably the best right-handed hitter of all time, Hornsby carried an amazing lifetime batting average of .358 and even batted .424 in 1924! He also slugged 301 career homers, and that is why he is batting third on my Ultimate Cubs Team.
Batting fourth and playing first base is Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks. Banks was a 14-time All-Star and slugged 512 home runs, all in a Cubs uniform. He loved the Chicago Cubs as much as anyone could love them and is an obvious pick to man the cleanup spot on my roster.
Batting fifth and playing right is Slammin’ Sammy Sosa. Bringing the energy and excitement right away with his trademark sprint to right field, Sosa lands himself in the middle of my order for one reason — power. He is one of the most prolific home run hitters of all time, crushing an unbelievable 609 homers in his career. He was also an MVP, a 7-time All-Star and a 6-time Silver Slugger award winner, so he is a must have in the lineup.
Batting sixth and playing left field is Sweet Swingin’ Billy Williams. Another obvious choice for the Ultimate Cubs Team, Williams was a Rookie of the Year, 6-time All-Star and spent 16 years in a Cubs uniform. Billy bleeds Cubbie Blue and would do an outstanding job in my Ultimate Cubs Lineup.
Batting seventh and playing second base is Ryne Sandberg. Hopefully duplicating his incredible effort in the “Sandberg Game,” there is no better fit to man second base on my Ultimate Cubs Team. An MVP, 9-time Gold Glove winner and a 10-time All-Star, Ryno is in an unfamiliar spot — used to batting second almost his whole career, but will be a catalyst to the bottom of my order.
Batting eighth and playing catcher is Wilson Contreras. A 2016 World Series Champion and 2-time All-Star, Contreras brings a certain excitement to the catching position. There were several other players competing for this role, such as the likes of Randy Hundley or Jody Davis, but I chose Wilson because he is a terrific defender, game caller and running game controller. He also brings power to the plate and some excitement to the basepaths.
Batting ninth and my starting pitcher is … Greg Maddux. One of the best pitchers of all time and with an incredible amount of success in the postseason (especially with the Atlanta Braves in the mid-90s), he is my choice to toe the rubber. Maddux is a 4-time Cy Young Award winner, 18-time Gold Glover and has almost 200 innings of postseason experience. There were a few other choices to start this game such as Jon Lester and Kerry Wood, but I went with Maddux this go-round.
In the bullpen, one of the most impressive athletes I have ever seen is Aroldis Chapman. Totally switching up the pitcher profile from Greg Maddux, Chapman can be unhittable with his plus fastball and when his off speed is in the strike zone, he is untouchable. There were numerous picks to fill my relief role such as Lee Smith, brief Cub Dennis Eckersley (1984-86) or even Bruce Sutter, but as far as intimidation and power, I chose the 2016 World Series winner.
On the bench, possibly playing a huge role is the beloved Ron Santo. A 9-time All-Star, 5-time Gold Glove winner and a heart that beats Cubs baseball, Santo is my choice for a big hit late in the game.
So many options to fill this one-game roster! Some honorable mentions that were competing for roles in my lineup and if I had more bench depth: Banks split his time between shortstop and first base, but if I were to choose a left-handed-hitting first baseman, it would have came down to Mark Grace or Anthony Rizzo. Competing for the third base role were Kris Bryant and clutch-hitting Aramis Ramirez. Competing for the starting pitcher spot were Kerry Wood, Jon Lester and old-timer Grover Alexander, who spent 1918-1926 in a Cubs uniform and was one of the best pitchers of all time and he likely would complete the whole game (he had 437 complete games and 5,190 innings pitched!).
This was a ton of fun and with this lineup, I feel like the Cubs have a very good chance to win ANY game!
Be sure to check out all of our Ultimate Cubs Lineups!