The 16 most underrated players in Cubs history
16. Kyle Hendricks
Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta seemingly got more headlines in 2016 but “The Professor” led MLB with a 2.13 ERA for the World Series champs. His quiet consistency as a starter — especially in the WHIP department — makes his underrated status more debatable.
15. Reed Johnson
His best year at the plate for the Cubs was in 2008. But he might be best remembered for what he did in the field. On April 25 of that year, he made a ridiculous diving catch on the warning track in Washington, robbing Felipe Lopez of extra bases.
14. Hank Wyse
Never heard of him? He led the Cubs in wins each year from 1944-46, which included a gaudy 22-win total for the 1945 National League pennant winners.
13. Randy Myers
He led the majors in saves in 1993 (53) and saved 38 more in a strike-shortened season two years later, best in the NL. In addition to sending many batters down, he did the same to an unruly fan (literally, via forearm) who charged him on Sept. 28, 1995.
12. Jim Hickman
1969 had fan favorites -- Santo, Banks, Williams and Fergie. But don’t overlook Jim Hickman, who hit 21 dingers that year. He was dominant in 1970, slashing .315/.419/.582 while making the All-Star team.
11. Mike Bielecki
He may have been in Greg Maddux’s shadow during his time in Chicago, but Bielecki went 18-7 with a 3.14 ERA for the 1989 NL East champs. Only Maddux won more games for the Cubs that year (19).
10. Stan Hack
Cubs history buffs usually recall the other Hack (as in Wilson), but don’t overlook Stan — a third baseman who played his entire career with the Cubs (1932-47). He was a solid hitter, a four-time All-Star and played for four NL pennant winners.
9. Rick Wilkins
The early/mid-90s featured a conga line of players behind the dish (Damon Berryhill, Joe Girardi, Hector Villanueva, etc), but Wilkins was an underrated beast in 1993: 30 HRs and 135 hits.
8. Matt Clement
He was a trendsetter, of sorts, in the facial hair department. But he was also a key hurler on the 2003 NLCS team. He then struck out 190 guys and had an ERA of 3.68 the following season.
7. Ron Cey
Any guess as to who led the Cubs in home runs in 1984? Ryne Sandberg? Gary Matthews? Leon Durham, perhaps? Nope. It was the Penguin. He had several productive years for the North Siders after a long run with the Dodgers.
6. Hank Sauer
The only time the Cubs didn’t finish below .500 in the 1950s was in 1952 — the year Sauer won NL MVP honors. He led the majors in home runs (37) and RBIs (121).
5. Gary Gaetti
Sammy Sosa and Kerry Wood got all the headlines in 1998 but the Aug. 19 signing of Gaetti gave the Cubs a huge boost. The Rat hit .320 with several clutch hits (including eight home runs) in 37 games. The Cubs went on to win the NL wild-card spot.
4. Juan Pierre
He was arguably the main attraction on a last place team in 2006. He stole 58 bases that year and his 204 hits topped the National League. He played all 162 games and his 699 at-bats were the most in MLB.
3. Jody Davis
Harry Caray’s sing-songy “Jo-DEEE, JO-dee Davis…” call helped make Davis a fan favorite. But he was also a two-time All-Star and a Gold Glove winner in 1986. He was a steady presence on the North Side from 1981-88.
2. Bill Madlock
The Cubs went 75-87 in both 1975 and 1976. But don’t blame Mad Dog. All he did was lead the NL in batting average (.354) in ’75 and then batted .339 — best in all of baseball — the following season.
1. Rick Reuschel
Big Daddy was a consistent — and imposing — threat on the mound in the 70s and early-80s. He was an All-Star in 1977 and finished third in Cy Young voting that year. He later faced the Cubs as a Giant in the 1989 NLCS.