Sunday, January 11, 2015

The All-Time Major League Teams: Chicago Cubs

Sorry Marlins fans, their team is on hold for later.
The Chicago Cubs are one of the most iconic franchises, but the most tortured. One of the best teams in the early 1900s, highlighted by 116 win season, they haven't won a World Series since 1908. It wasn't due to lack of trying, but baseball is a game of superstitions. Similar to the Curse of the Bambino, the Cubs have the Curse of the Billy Goat. While the Curse of the Bambino is long gone, The Cubs are still cursed. But even if they are cursed they have one of the better All Time teams I've come across. They are the first team that have great offense and pitching.
 Let us begin. Leading off and playing Third Base, Woody English. Woody was one of the main pieces of the amazing 1930 offense. Woody wasn't a power hitter and he didn't steal bases, but he didn't need to. With 36 double, 17 triples, 214 hit and the men batting behind him he was able to score 152 runs. That's second most on the 1930 team and the all time team.
 Batting second and playing Right Field is Kiki Cuylar. Kiki seamed like a typical speed demon for the Cubs and Pirates, but in 1930 he became a terror for the opposition. With a Tris Speaker like season and skillset he helped the Cubs terrifying. While he is batting second, he did manage to steal 37 bases with his 50 doubles, 155 runs and 134 RBI.
 Batting third and playing Center Field, Hack Wilson. Not only did Hack Wilson have the best RBI season in Cubs Franchise history, he had the best RBI in MLB history. With Woody and Kiki hitting ahead of him in 1930, he hit 56 home runs and a record breaking 191 RBI. He was an MVP in a season without an MVP.
 Batting clean up, the Designated Hitter, Sammy Sosa. The second place winner in the 1998 home run race, his career is clouded by PEDs and other cheating accusations. Even so Sammy put up not only home run number, but numbers across the board. Hitting behind Hack Wilson would be a dream come true when he adds his 64 home runs and 160 RBI. An interesting fun fact, every year Sammy hit 60 or more home runs he did not lead the league in home runs.
 Batting fifth and playing Left Field, Billy Williams. He was part a dynamic duo with Ernie Banks in the 60s together. He was a Rookie of the Year winner in 1961 and came in second in 1970 to Johnny Bench. Williams was your typical Left Fielder, hitting for both power and contact. Easily one of the best Cubs on the field, sometimes you still see him hanging around Wrigley.
 Batting sixth and playing Shortstop, Ernie Banks. Ernie Banks is known as Mr. Cub, because of dedication, love and passion for being a Cub. But love isn't always enough, so he decided to become one of the best players in the league. During his quest to become great he became the first black player to win back-to-back MVP awards in 1958 and 1959. Those two seasons came in between four straight years of forty or more home runs. Ernie Banks ended his career as the first shortstop to reach 500 home runs. With his recent passing, may he play two in the afterlife.
 Batting seventh and playing First Base, Derrek Lee. Lee was the consistent offensive and defensive 1st basemen for the Cubs from 2004 to 2010. He won two Gold Gloves and had two All-Star selections. But his 2005 campaign saw him lead the NL in Hits, Doubles, Batting Average and Slugging. He fell short of the MVP to Albert Pujols and Andruw Jones.
 Batting eighth and catching, Gabby Hartnett. Gabby was the cleanup hitter for the mighty 1930 Cubs with means he was one scary offensive catcher. As a catcher in both offense and defense I'd say he was fourth all-time only behind Johnny Bench, Yogi Berra and Ivan Rodriguez. But I'll get into all time catchers another day. While he didn't score as many runs as his teammates, he hit 37 home runs and drove in 122 RBI. His .404 On Base Percentage didn't hurt the cause either.
 And batting ninth and playing second base, Ryne Sandberg. One of the greatest defensive infielders to ever play the game, Sandberg wasn't just a glove for hire. He put up MVP numbers in both the power and speed department every year. This included a 40 home run, 25 stolen base season. He could bat anywhere in the order so don't let him batting ninth fool you.
With a monster line up, a team needs a monster pitching staff. So let's look at the numbers.
  1. Mordecai Brown*  1.04/36/32/144/61/277/27/9/26-6/0.93 (253)
  2. Ed Reulbach           1.42/34/29/152/73/291/28/5/18-14/0.96 (209)
  3. Jack Taylor            1.29/37/34/088/45/333/34/8/23-11/0.95 (206)
  4. Orval Overall         1.32/38/32/205/80/285/23/9/20-11/0.99 (179)
  5. Mark Prior             2.43/30/30/245/50/211/3/1/18-6/1.10 (179)
Led by the man nicknamed Three Finger Brown, the Cubs may have the second best rotation to go with the second best line up. While four of them pitched their best seasons in the Deadball Era, I'd normally think twice about putting them in a rotation. However they were well above average even for their era. But then you add one half of Chicago Heat, Mark Prior and you have proof that they have someone who could pitch.
The back end of their bullpen is strong and so are their long relievers/spot starters, but their middle relievers can be shaky.
  1. Bruce Sutter*      1.34/62/0/129/23/107/48/31/6-3/0.85
  2. Lee Smith            1.42/66/0/91/41/103/56/29/4-10/1.07
  3. Sean Marshall     2.26/78/0/79/17/75/18/5/6-6/1.09
  4. Les Lancaster      1.36/42/0/56/15/72/15/8/4-2/1.03

  5. Jack Pfiester*      1.15/30/22/090/48/195/13/3/14-9/0.97
  6. Fergie Jenkins     2.77/39/39/263/37/325/30/3/24-13/1.04
I had a lot of trouble chooses the spot starter. It came down to Fergie Jenkins, Hippo Vaughn, Kerry Wood and Carlos Zambrano. Fergie won out with in strikeouts, walks and innings.
The back end of the bullpen was easy. Bruce Sutter had his best seasons with the Cubs as did Lee Smith. Sutter was a Hall of Famer closer, Smith hopefully will be one day too. The other two were tricky. Sean Marshall was the best left handed specialist I could find and he's not a bad choice. Les Lancaster was a lightning in bottle season, who beat out Kyle Farnsworth, Kerry Wood and Carlos Marmol.
The Bench are filled with Old time players.
  1. Ron Santo         .313/94/185/33/13/30/122/3/.391
  2. Bob O'Farrell    .319/73/144/25/4/12/84/10/.408
  3. Billy Herman    .341/113/227/57/6/07/83/6/.383
  4. Bill Nicholson  .287/116/167/35/8/33/122/3/.391
  5. Augie Galan#   .314/133/203/41/11/12/79/22/.399
Led by the legendary Ron Santo, no one from the twenty-first century makes the bench. There were plenty of candidates, but players like Joe Tinker were the bigger snubs. Joe Tinker was an incredible player who led the Cubs to multiple world titles, but Billy Herman was a much better offensive second basemen, only second to Sandberg. I picked Bill Nicholson because of his consistency in the power department and his glove.
 Now let's finish with the line-up numbers
  1. Woody English   .335/152/214/36/17/14/59/3/.430
  2. Kiki Cuylar         .355/155/228/50/17/13/134/37/.428
  3. Hack Wilson       .356/146/208/35/6/56/191/3/.454
  4. Sammy Sosa       .328/146/189/34/5/64/160/0/.437
  5. Billy Williams    .322/137/205/34/4/42/129/7/.391
  6. Ernie Banks        .304/97/179/25/6/45/143/2/.374
  7. Derrek Lee          .335/120/199/50/3/46/107/15/.418
  8. Gabby Hartnett   .339/84/172/31/3/37/122/0/.404
  9. Ryne Sandberg   .306/116/188/30/3/40/100/25/.354
A absolute monster line up. Once one guy gets on base, then someone will knock hit in. It's not a debate, it's going to happen. There are probably three or four all time pitching staffs that could slow them down, but I don't know how long that will last.
Next up are the division rival St. Louis Cardinals.

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