I must admit I watched little of Tuesday’s All-Star Game. I feel the game lost its zeal long ago…about the time inner league play began. In my humble opinion, the elimination of inner league play would help restore interest (at least mine) in the former “mid-summer classic”. Instead, the importance of the game is propped up by manufactured value…the winner receiving home field advantage during the World Series. Do you know anyone who endorses this home-field lunacy? (Other than Bud Selig)
While I once again had no interest in the actual All-Star game this year…my attentiveness to the home run derby was up one thousand percent. Obviously this was due to the inclusion of Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo. Unfortunately their performances could be classified as “Cub-like”. Rizzo, the guinea pig in the new format, came out swinging like Rocky Balboa in his first fight against Clubber Lang in Rocky III-which didn’t turn out too well. Bryant, who admirably found it more important to have his father throw to him than to win, received about as many hittable pitches as he does from opposing pitchers. (Incidentally…did anyone else notice how upset Prince Fielder looked when he realized he was eliminated? He looked like Clubber Lang after the second fight in Rocky III)
All-Star games, Home-Run derbies and Rocky films aside…the derby made my mind wonder into Cubs history…specifically home-run hitters. I started to ponder the best Cubs’ homerun hitters at each position, that I have seen play and then form them into a mythical line-up. So without further ado (and anymore Rocky movie references) here is my all-time Cubs’ home run hitter line-up:
Leading off and playing centerfield, 1976 Rick Monday with 32 homeruns. Monday had a .346 on-base percentage and his sweet lefty swing is perfect at the top of my fictional line-up. The second slot will be manned by (duh) 1990 Ryne Sandberg. Not only does our team gain Ryno’s 40 homers and 100 RBI’s, we get a gold glover at second base.
Batting third and playing shortstopis 1958 Ernie Banks. Now I am stretching a bit here…but I did actually see Banks play as a very, very young boy. His 47 homers and 129 knocked in from one of his MVP seasons had to be in the lineup. So I reached a bit here…but it’s worth it. (Not to mention the Cubs haven’t had a plethora of power hitting shortstops)
Sorry millennials, but playingright field and batting fourth, is 1987 Andre Dawson…not Sammy Sosa. Setting aside “cork” jokes and enhancement talk…I just enjoyed Andre more as a player. Andre hit 49 homers in 1987 with 137 RBI’s, had a cannon for an arm, and no “hop”. Had Andre played his career injury free, I am confident he would be considered one of the top players ever.
Batting fifth I put 2014 Anthony Rizzo at first base. Even though Rizzo’s 32 homers pales in comparison to Derek Lee’s 46 in 2005, I am trying to balance out the line-up a bit…and Rizzo is already one of the better left-handed sluggers in Cubs’ history.(there hasn’t been many). If my fictional team plays with a DH, then 2005 D-Lee will be a nice addition to the line-up.
In the sixth slot, and in left field,is 1979 Dave Kingman. I encourage you young bucks out there to YouTube some of Kingman’s 1979 homers. You will be amazed at some of the 48bombs that were launched onto Waveland that summer. Sure he struck out a lot (before it was cool), and once sent a rat to a reporter as a joke, but for one season Kingman was a prodigious slugger. Many of his shots today would be hitting the giant video board.
Here is one for the youngsters…I have 2006 Aramis Ramirez playing third base and batting seventh. Aramis hit 38 homers in 2006, and upon further reflection I believe Aramis will go down as one of the best in Cubs’ history. Ramirez was a key offensive piece for three Cubs’ play-off teams. (Quick…name someone else you can say that about!)
Catching and batting eighth is the absolute epitome of a one year wonder…1993 Rick Wilkins. Wilkins hit 30 homers in 1993…and never came remotely close to that achievement again. However for the purposes of our team, his lefty stick will add to that balance I mentioned earlier. So what if he only did it once?
I might be adding a bit of “crazy” to the line-up in the ninth slot; but the best hitting Cubs’ pitcher I have ever seen is Carlos Zambrano. The switch-hitting, Gatorade cooler bashing, catcher fighting Zambrano hit 6 in 2006, and will give the line-up its fourth lefty when facing a tough right hander. So a quick review, with homerun totals:
CF 1976 RICK MONDAY 32
2B 1990 RYNE SANDBERG 40
SS 1958 ERNIE BANKS 47
RF 1987 ANDRE DAWSON 49
1B 2014 ANTHONY RIZZO 32
LF 1979 DAVE KINGMAN 48
3B 2006 ARAMIS RAMIREZ 38
C 1993 RICK WILKINS 30
P 2006 CARLOS ZAMBRANO 6
This line-up produces a nice 322 homers, and averages 39.5 round trippers per each position player. The line-up features Hall of Famers in the 2, 3 and 4 slots in the order…so who cares if we have a one-hit wonder (Wilkins), a malcontent (Kingman) and a pitcher (Zambrano) who looks like he could just might be crazy enough to kill?
So feel free to point out admissions…I like my line-up! I would just have two wishes if this team did actually take the field…
I hope the wind is blowing out…and I don’t want to play the Yankees all-time homer team. (Yikes! Ruth, Gehrig, Mantle, Maris, Nettles, Reggie and on and on)