Top 10 Best Chicago Cubs Players of All Time

Top 10 Best Chicago Cubs Players of All Time

The Chicago Cubs are one of the most storied franchises in Major League history. Having been around for well over a century, the team has seen its fair share of ups and downs, including a 108-year World Series drought. The club has had a handful of legendary players wear the uniform, with some going down as among the greatest in the sport’s entirety. Keep reading below to learn about the top ten best Chicago Cubs of all time.


Who Are The Best Chicago Cubs Baseball Players of All Time?

  1. Ernie Banks
  2. Cap Anson
  3. Ryne Sandberg
  4. Sammy Sosa
  5. Fergie Jenkins
  6. Mordecai Brown
  7. Billy Williams
  8. Ron Santo
  9. Gabby Hartnett
  10. Stan Hack

1. Ernie Banks

  • Fourth in franchise history in WAR (67.7)
  • Two-Time MVP
  • 14-Time All-Star
  • Inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1977

Nicknamed “Mr. Cub,” Ernie Banks has unquestionably been the face of the franchise since his debut way back in 1953. He was a power-hitting shortstop long before that style of play was popular, mashing home runs at an incredible rate while playing solid defense, and even winning a Gold Glove at the position in 1960. He played all 19 of his Major League seasons in Chicago, hitting 512 home runs (the second-most in franchise history) and also recording 2,583 hits (also second-most in franchise history). Banks was routinely a star on the field, being named to eight-straight All-Star teams from 1955-1962. In 1958, he won his first-ever MVP award, leading the league in both home runs and runs batted in. The next year, he came back and won it again, leading the league in RBI and games played. Banks ranks near the top of almost every offensive statistic in franchise history, as he was truly an outstanding hitter. He scored the fifth-most runs, hit the third-most doubles, drove in the second-most runs, and recorded the most extra-base hits of any Cub ever. He also played the most games in franchise history at 2,528, cementing himself as a Chicago icon.

2. Cap Anson

  • First in franchise history in WAR (84.7)
  • Four-Time Batting Champion
  • Eight-Time League RBI Leader
  • Inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939

While Ernie Banks may have some of the most impressive numbers in franchise history, there is one other man who can compete with his statistical prowess. Cap Anson was the Cubs’ first superstar, debuting with the team in 1876 after already playing five years of professional baseball. He quickly became one of the best hitters in the National League, never hitting below .300 in his first 15 seasons with the Cubs. An amazing contact hitter, Anson led the league in batting average four different times, but he was also a great run producer. He was the National League’s RBI leader for eight separate seasons, and he is the Cubs’ all-time leader in the category. Being the franchise leader in an offensive stat was nothing rare for Anson; he was also Chicago’s best ever when it comes to hits, runs scored, and doubles, and he’s second in franchise history in both games played and triples. Though he played before the time of the MVP award or the All-Star Game, Anson undoubtedly was one of the best players around during his prime, and he lasted a whopping 22 seasons in Chicago before retiring.

3. Ryne Sandberg

  • Third in franchise history in WAR (68.1)
  • 1984 NL MVP
  • 10-Time All-Star
  • Inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2005

Ryne Sandberg was a true five-tool player. He could hit for average and power at the plate, he was a world-class defender at second base who could flash the leather and the arm, and he was an absolute menace on the basepaths. One of the most complete players of his time, Sandberg’s award case was overflowing by the time he hung up the cleats. He was a 10-time All-Star in Chicago from 1984-1993, and he also won nine Gold Glove Awards in a row at second base. At the plate, Sandberg was equally decorated, winning seven Silver Slugger Awards and even taking home the Home Run Derby crown in 1990. In 1984, at the age of just 24, Sandberg led the league in triples and runs scored en route to a National League MVP award, also winning a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger that year. He stands fourth in games played for the Cubs franchise and is also fourth in stolen bases.

4. Sammy Sosa

  • Sixth in franchise history in WAR (58.8)
  • 1998 NL MVP
  • Seven-Time All-Star

While the Dominican right fielder was an amazing player during his time in Chicago, he carries a controversial reputation in comparison to the franchise’s other all-time greats. Sammy Sosa tested positive for steroids in the later stages of his career, tainting what had been a tremendous legacy. Still, there’s no denying Sosa left his mark on the franchise, and his bat left its mark on plenty of baseballs. He made his first All-Star Game in 1995, and he would go on to be named an All-Star in six of the next nine seasons. During that same span, he won six Silver Slugger Awards, leading the league in home runs twice, as well as being a two-time RBI leader. In 1998, Sosa put together one of the best offensive seasons baseball has ever seen, mashing 66 home runs to go along with 158 runs batted in and winning the National League MVP. He is the Cubs’ all-time leader in home runs with 545, and he is also third in RBI and extra-base hits.

5. Fergie Jenkins

  • Ninth in franchise history in WAR (53)
  • 1971 NL Cy Young Award Winner
  • Three-Time All-Star
  • Inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1991

The most well-known pitcher in Cubs history, Fergie Jenkins pitched with an edge on the mound that made him one of the greats of his time. His ability to work deep into ballgames was outstanding, and the Canadian righty led the league in complete games four times. He only played 10 seasons with the Cubs, with two coming at the end of his career, but he made the most of his time on the North Side. Jenkins made his first All-Star Team in 1967, but he had plenty more in the tank. In 1971, he led all pitchers in games started, complete games, innings pitched, and wins, and he was awarded the Cy Young Award. He was nearly as good the next year, making his third All-Star appearance and finishing in third place in the Cy Young Award voting. Jenkins is first in Cubs’ history in games started and strikeouts and has the fifth-most wins of any Cubbies pitcher ever.

6. Mordecai Brown

  • 11th in franchise history in WAR (48.1)
  • 1906 National League ERA leader (All-Time Record for Starting Pitcher)
  • Two-Time World Series Champion
  • Inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1949

Easily the most unique player on this list, Mordecai Brown was better known by another name during his time on the mound. “Three Finger” Brown was one of the best pitchers of his time, and he did it with two fewer fingers than anyone else. An active and curious farm boy in his youth, Brown lost one finger in a piece of farming equipment and paralyzed another after falling while chasing a rabbit. It sounds absurd, and almost comical, but his numbers are great enough to make anyone forget such tales. He was dominant in the early 1900s, posting a sub-3.00 ERA in each of his first 11 seasons. In 1906, he recorded an eye-popping 1.04 ERA, still a record for the lowest earned run average of any starting pitcher in Major League history. His unique assortment of pitches helped lead the Cubs to the World Series in 1907, where they won their first ever trophy. Brown led the charge again in 1908, and the Cubs repeated as champions, allowing the Indiana native to call himself one of the few two-time World Series winners in franchise history. He is second in career ERA and wins among all Cubs, and is first in complete game shutouts.

7. Billy Williams

  • Fifth in franchise history in WAR (51.7)
  • Six-Time All-Star
  • 1972 NL Batting Champion
  • Inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1987

Arguably the greatest outfielder in Cubs history, Billy Williams was an absolute masher at the plate. He hit for both average and power for his entire career and was also a tremendous run producer in the middle of the order. In 1961, he won the National League Rookie of the Year award after hitting 25 home runs, and that was just a glimpse of the talent that he would become. The following year, Williams made his first All-Star appearance, kickstarting an exceptional stretch of his career, during which he was one of the league’s best hitters. From 1961-1973, Williams never hit fewer than 20 homers and never drove in fewer than 80 runs. He also hit .280 or higher in 10 of those 13 years, and he made six All-Star teams in that span. In 1970, he led the league in hits and runs scored and finished as the runner-up in the NL MVP voting. Two years later, Williams was the National League’s best in both batting average and slugging percentage, but once again, he finished second in the MVP race. He is third in games played, hits, and home runs in franchise history and is fourth in runs scored and runs batted in.

8. Ron Santo

  • Second in franchise history in WAR (72.1)
  • Nine-Time All-Star
  • Five-Time Gold Glove Award Winner
  • Inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2012

Before Ryne Sandberg came into Chicago as a do-it-all infielder, Ron Santo was the resident multi-talented player in Chi-Town. He was great at the plate and even better in the field as he manned the hot corner for 14 years as a Cub. Santo made his first All-Star Team in 1963, and that was just the start of a great stretch of baseball for the Seattle native. For the next seven seasons, Santo hit 26 or more home runs, and overall he bashed 337 as a Cub, the fourth-most in franchise history. He is also seventh in hits and fifth in RBI among all Cubs, but his best abilities were shown on the defensive side of the field. Santo won five-straight Gold Glove Awards at third base from 1964-1968, and he was widely regarded as one of the best defenders in baseball during his prime. He made six All-Star Teams between 1963-1969, only missing out in 1967 when he wound up finishing fourth in the MVP voting. He added three more All-Star appearances from 1971-1973 and played the fifth-most games of any Cub ever.

9. Gabby Hartnett

  • Eighth in franchise history in WAR (55.0)
  • 1935 NL MVP
  • Six-Time All-Star
  • Inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1955

The greatest catcher in Chicago Cubs history, Gabby Hartnett was one of the franchise’s finest players of the 1920s and 1930s. When he debuted in 1922, the notion of the All-Star Game had yet to be created in the Majors. However, after being founded in 1933, Hartnett went to six-straight All-Star Games, and he undoubtedly would have made many more appearances had the accolade been implemented sooner. In 1935, Hartnett hit .344 and drove in 91 runs to win the National League MVP award, providing great leadership behind the plate and great hitting when he wasn’t covered in catcher’s gear. He played the eighth-most games in Cubs history, and also hit the eighth-most home runs. Hartnett also drove in 1,153 during his time as a Cub, the sixth-most ever for the franchise, and his 391 doubles, also ranked sixth among the organization’s all-time players.

10. Stan Hack

  • Seventh in franchise history in WAR (55.5)
  • Five-Time All-Star
  • Led the National League in hits twice

The last member of this top 10 list, Stan Hack was anything but a hack when he played for the Cubs in the 1930s and 1940s. In 1938, he posted his breakout season, leading the league in games played and stolen bases while hitting .320. He was named to the All-Star Team that year and finished seventh in the MVP voting, one of five times that he would be within the top 15 vote-getters for the award. He went on to make four more All-Star Game appearances over the next seven seasons, routinely playing as one of the most consistent hitters of his time. He hit over .280 in 14 of his 16 seasons and even hit over .300 in half of those years. He was twice the National League leader in hits, doing so in back-to-back seasons in 1940 and 1941. Overall, Hack is sixth in Cubs history in hits, and he’s also sixth in at-bats. He is currently seventh in franchise history in a number of categories, including games played, on-base percentage, runs scored, and doubles.

Honorable Mentions

While these players did not make the Top 10 list above, they deserve honorable mentions for their contributions to the Cubs. They are listed here in alphabetical order by last name:

  • Pete Alexander
  • Phil Cavarretta
  • Frank Chance
  • Andre Dawson
  • Johnny Evers
  • Mark Grace
  • Clark Griffith
  • Billy Herman
  • Bill Hutchison
  • Greg Maddux
  • Bill Nicholson
  • Aramis Ramirez
  • Rick Reuschel
  • Anthony Rizzo
  • Charlie Root
  • Lee Smith
  • Joe Tinker
  • Hippo Vaughn
  • Hack Wilson
  • Carlos Zambrano

FAQ

Who is the best Chicago Cubs player of all time?

The best Chicago Cubs player of all time is Ernie Banks. Nicknamed “Mr. Cub,” Banks had one of the most storied careers of anyone ever to don the Chicago uniform. He won consecutive MVP awards in 1958 and 1959 and was a 14-time All-Star in his career. He is first in games played for the Cubs and is second in hits, home runs, and runs batted in.

Which Chicago Cubs player holds the record for most home runs?

The Chicago Cubs player with the most home runs is Sammy Sosa, with 545. Sosa’s career is a bit of a dubious one, as he tested positive for steroids later in his playing years. Still, he put up unbelievable numbers, including leading the league in home runs twice, and hitting 66 home runs in 1998 to win the MVP award. The Dominican outfielder recorded 20 or more home runs 13 times in his career and topped 40 homers seven times.