Ultimate Cubs Lineup: Taylor McGregor
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?
Marquee Sports Network’s Taylor McGregor gives her take:
1. Hack Wilson – CF
2. Ryne Sandberg – 2B
3. Ernie Banks – SS
4. Sammy Sosa – RF
5. Billy Williams – LF
6. Ron Santo – 3B
7. Anthony Rizzo – 1B
8. Gabby Hartnett – C
9. Greg Maddux – P
Reliever: Lee Smith
Bench player: Andre Dawson
The leadoff spot was a difficult one for me because of the depth of talent. There are so many guys you can plug into the outfield, but for center field, I chose Hack Wilson. I decided to put him in the leadoff role strictly because of his on-base ability. He had a .454 on-base percentage in 1930 and a career .395 on-base percentage.
When you look at Ryno’s complete ability as a player — he can hit, his speed on the bases, Gold Glove defense — he’s the type of guy you want at second base and at the top of the order, putting more pressure on the pitcher.
You could really put Banks anywhere in the lineup and know he’s going to dominate. I decided to go with him in that No. 3 spot to drive in runs after the two guys ahead of him get on base.
Is there a better guy to hit cleanup for the Cubs than Sammy Sosa? His power is perfect for this spot and it’s a recipe to drive in a lot of runs in this lineup.
Williams is synonymous with this ballclub and he could really fit anywhere in this order, but I like the length of this lineup with him in the No. 5 spot. A former batting champion, he’s a perfect complement to slide into that spot.
Santo was a great defender at third base and a great hitter. I struggled with where to put him in this lineup — I thought about the No. 2 spot, but I liked Ryno’s speed up there, so decided to put Santo at No. 6. But again, if you look at the length of this lineup with a guy like Santo hitting sixth, I like your chances.
I wanted to have somebody from the current Cubs and who better to represent this 2020 club than Anthony Rizzo? I had Mark Grace as another option at first base, but I chose Rizzo for his slugging. He has a little bit more power than the other options and I needed some lefty hitters. I have Williams and now I have Rizzo and I didn’t want to be too righty-heavy.
When you look at the history of the Chicago Cubs from the catcher’s position, Gabby Hartnett is the only Cub to ever win the MVP from the position, so it seems like a no-brainer to slide him in there.
There have been several elite pitchers to put on a Cubs uniform — I was really between Jon Lester and Fergie Jenkins as well as Greg Maddux. I ultimately chose Maddux just because of his consistency. Four-time Cy Young Award winner, you know he’s going to go out there and be consistent and personally, he’s one of my favorite pitchers to ever play the game, so I have a little bias from that perspective. It’s hard to go wrong with any of those guys.
There have been many guys who have come out of the bullpen and been dominant, but Lee Smith wasn’t just a Cubs great — he was one of the greatest relievers in the history of baseball. When you’re talking about a guy coming out of the bullpen and having to rely on him, what better guy than one who’s third on the all-time saves list?
The bench spot might’ve been my hardest decision when putting together the lineup. It felt wrong putting Dawson on the bench because we know the type of player he was and all the tools that he had. It was really hard for me to narrow down the outfielders, but I still wanted him on my team even though I did not put him in my lineup. I love the Hawk and love what he was able to bring.
Be sure to check out all of our Ultimate Cubs Lineups!