Ranking the top 25 Chicago Cubs players of all-time is a tall task, considering the franchise dates back more than 140 years. The Cubs have not been one of the most successful franchises in baseball history, but there have been some great players that have worn the Cubbie blue.
Some of these Cubs legends played well before television was invented, but the numbers still speak for themselves. Others helped the Cubs break the longest curse in professional sports history, earning them a permanent space in Cubs lore.
Each day I will break down five of the best to ever put on the Cubs uniform, and give my biased opinion on why they are ranked in that spot. This wasn’t easy, and leaving off some of my favorite current players was not an easy decision to make, but it simply had to be done.
We have reached the final list, and here are the top five greatest players in the history of the Chicago Cubs.
5. Sammy Sosa
Let’s get this out of the way right now: Sammy Sosa “allegedly” used performance-enhancing drugs, and was also caught using a corked bat. “Slammin’ Sammy” was still one of the best players to ever play in Chicago, and was the best player in baseball for a short period of time.
Sosa is the Cubs’ all-time leader in home runs with 545 blasts, a majority of which traveled onto Waveland Avenue. Sosa ranks in the top-10 in several other statistical categories, and his love for the game and for the city of Chicago was second to none.
The slugger hit at least 49 home runs in each season from 1998-2002 and blasted 66 long balls and drove in 158 runs en route to a league MVP Award in 1998. His home run chase with Mark McGwire saved the game of baseball, and it turned the fortunes of the franchise around.
Sosa’s career with the Cubs ended on a bad note, and he still has not been forgiven by the organization. This man deserves to have his number retired by the team, and he deserves to be honored as the true legend that he was.
4. Fergie Jenkins
Hall of Fame pitcher Fergie Jenkins spent 10 seasons with the Chicago Cubs and is the best pitcher in team history. Jenkins bounced around a ton throughout his career, but his best work came with the Cubs.
Jenkins won the Cy Young Award in 1971, a season in which he completed 30 of his 39 starts that season. The right hander went 167-132 as a member of the Cubs, and had a 3.20 earned run average.
Fergie was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1991 and has his jersey number retired by the Cubs. The Cubs have had some terrific starting pitchers toe the rubber at Wrigley Field, but Fergie Jenkins was the best.
3. Billy Williams
“Sweet Swingin” Billy Williams checks in at number three on the list, and his offense did all of the talking. The Hall of Fame outfielder posted some huge offensive numbers as a member of the Cubs during his 16-year stint with the team.
Williams had 881 extra-base hits as a member of the Cubs, which is second all-time. The left-handed slugger is also high on plenty of other offensive lists and was Rookie of the Year in 1961.
In his 16 years with the Cubs, Williams posted a .296 batting average with 392 home runs and 1,353 runs batted in. Williams might not have had monster offensive seasons during his career, but he was extremely consistent and a leader in the clubhouse.
The sweet swing of Billy Williams is hard to ignore and was hard for opposing pitchers to figure out. Williams remains a fan-favorite in Chicago and is one of the few remaining players from the famed 1969 team.
2. Ryne Sandberg
Second baseman Ryne Sandberg was traded to the Chicago Cubs after playing just 13 games with the Philadelphia Phillies, and he ended up becoming a legend in the Windy City. In 15 season with the Chicago Cubs, Sanberg was a 10x All-Star, 9x Gold Glove winner, 7x Silver Slugger, and was MVP of the National League in 1984.
“Ryno” is widely considered one of the best second basemen of all-time, and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2005. His famous number “23” is retired by the Chicago Cubs, and he remains one of the most popular players in franchise history.
Sandberg is in the top-5 in a number of offensive and defensive categories with the Chicago Cubs, and he was a constant force in the middle of the lineup. Ryno was one of the best to ever do it at second base, and Cubs fans got to watch it take place in the Friendly Confines.
1. Ernie Banks
Many players on this list could be shuffled around or replaced, but naming the best player in Chicago Cubs history was an easy choice. Ernie Banks, “Mr. Cub” is the greatest player to ever suit up for the team, and the numbers speak for themselves.
The Hall of Fame infielder played all 19 of his seasons with the Chicago Cubs and was an All-Star 14 times during his career. Banks won back-to-back MVP Awards in 1958 and 1959 and is one of the best players in Major League history as well.
Banks played in 2,528 games with the Cubs, which is the most all-time. Number 14 also holds the franchise record for most at-bats, most plate appearances, most total bases, and most extra-base hits.
The only knock on his career was that he never played in the postseason, but Banks always did his part. When you think of the Chicago Cubs, Mr. Cub should be the first thing that comes to mind.