Now is where it gets interesting. I don’t have 5 slots to fill for starting pitchers or 7 slots for relievers. This time I have to concentrate on 1 position and pick 1 guy. First, I will give you the contenders, then reveal my All Time Cubs First baseman. There were a lot of choices here, and my final decision even surprised me. I’ll just go ahead and say that even though Ernie Banks actually played more games at first than at short, to me he is a shortstop, and (SPOILER ALERT) he might have a spot there.
Mark Grace. I know Grace would be a popular choice, and if I was only looking at defense he would be at the top. The beef I always had with Mark Grace is he just never seemed to get any better. He came up in 1988 and looked like he had unlimited potential. He hit .296 and was absolutely robbed of the Rookie of the Year Award by Chris Sabo. The voters must have mailed in their ballots at the All Star break. The problem is, I expected Grace to either jump up into the .340-.350 range, or develop power. He did neither, ending his career with a mediocre .303 average and never hit more than 17 home runs playing in Wrigley Field.
Bill Buckner. In 8 seasons as a Cub, Billy Buck hit over .300 4 times, including .324 in 1980 to claim the batting title. Unfortunately for him, Buckner will always be remembered for the 1 play he didn’t make in the World series for Boston. Did you know when that ball infamously went through his legs, he was wearing a Cubs batting glove under his fielding glove?
Derrick Lee. In 7 seasons for the Cubs, Lee was a 2 time All Star, 2 time Gold Glove winner, won a batting title while hitting 46 home runs in 2005, when he also led the league in doubles. He was robbed of the MVP that year, losing out to Albert Pujols.
Leon Durham. The Bull patrolled first base for the Cubs after actually beginning his career in the outfield. Durham hit home runs in Games 4 and 5 of the National League Championship series in 1984 against the Padres. He then went on to top 20 homers 3 more straight seasons.
Phil Cavarreta. For those of you who think I don’t know history, Cavarreta was the N.L. MVP in 1945 and won the batting title with a .355 average. Cavarreta played 20 seasons with the Cubs and appeared in 3 World Series.
Anthony Rizzo. Full disclosure, when I was just thinking about writing this, Rizzo was my leader in the clubhouse. He has improved drastically in the field since finally getting his chance to play every day after being traded to the Cubs, making some crazy catches on top of the tarp. Rizzo passed Andre Dawson earlier this season for 3rd on the Cubs all time home run list with 175.
And the winner is…….
Cap Anson. Of course if you’re any kind of a baseball fan, you know the name. But when I started doing research, I just couldn’t in good conscience not pick Cap Anson. Twenty-two seasons, a .331 career average, including 4 batting titles, led the league in RBI 8 times, drove in over 100 8 times, played in 2 World Series, with a .340 career post season average and never once struck out in 47 post season at bats. I realize we are going back 2 centuries here, but I just couldn’t ignore those numbers. Anson is a Hall of Famer who I believe could have excelled in any era.
So what do you think? Did I leave anyone out? Were you as surprised as I was myself? Did I forget about your favorite? I love interaction, so don’t be afraid to hit me up @jbhickle on Twitter or comment here or on Facebook and let me know how you think I did.
Next week, second base. Gee, that’s going to be hard.