All-time best Cubs players by jersey number
When your franchise dates back to 1876, you're gonna have a lot of incredible players take the field. The Cubs have certainly had their fair share of greats, with 51 Hall of Famers having some tie to the team, according to Baseball Reference.
But who's the best for each jersey number? Sure there are some no-brainers, but several numbers had several guys who could make a case. For instance, does Alfonso Soriano or Kyle Schwarber get the nod at No. 12?
Without further ado, these are our selections for the best Cubs for every number.
Nos. 1 - 5
No. 1: Jose Cardenal (OF, 1972-1977)
From 1972-77, he hit .296 for the Cubs. Beats out Kosuke Fukudome, Doug Glanville and Kenny Lofton (though Cardenal would win based on hairstyle alone).
No. 2: Gabby Hartnett (C, 1922-40)
His “Homer in the Gloamin’” is a baseball legend. The Hall of Famer spent 19 of his 20 year career with the Cubs, batting .297.
No. 3: Kiki Cuyler (OF, 1928-35)
Played eight of his 18 career seasons with the Cubbies. He led the majors in steals in each of his first three years in Chicago and slashed .325/.391/.485 during his entire tenure with the team.
No. 4: Don Zimmer (Manager, 1988-91)
The Cubs went 265-248 under “Popeye," making the playoffs in 1989. Billy Williams, who wore No. 4 in 1959, will be mentioned later.
No. 5: Reed Johnson (OF, 2008-09, 2011-12)
Hit .296 with the Cubs, but may be best known for his diving catch against the Nationals. Beats out Albert Almora and Nomar Garciapara.
Nos. 6 - 10
No. 6: Stan Hack (3B, 1932-47)
In his 16 season he batted .301 and twice led the NL in hits, giving him the edge over Keith Moreland and Nicholas Castellanos.
No. 7: Rick Monday (CF, 1972-76)
Monday batted .270 with 106 homers with the Cubs. His saving of the American flag gives him the edge over Jody Davis & Mark DeRosa.
No. 8: Andre Dawson (RF, 1987-92)
After signing a blank contract with the Cubs, the Hawk hit .287 with 49 homers and 137 in 1989, winning the NL MVP despite playing on a last-place team.
No. 9: Javier Baez (INF, 2014-present)
"El Mago" has a .794 OPS since joining the Cubs in 2014, but his defense and base running is what usually fills the highlight reels.
No. 10: Ron Santo (3B, 1960-73)
The nine-time All-Star and five-time Gold Glove winner had his No. 10 retired by the Cubs in 2003 and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2012, just over a year after his passing.
Nos. 11 - 15
No. 11: Don Kessinger (SS,1964-75)
Spent the first 12 seasons of his 16-year MLB career with the Cubs, making the All-Star team six times.
No. 12: Alfonso Soriano (LF, 2007-13)
Had 181 homers and an OPS of .812 from 2007-13, leading the Cubs to the playoffs in his first two seasons with the club. Gets the nod over Shawon Dunston and Kyle Schwarber.
No. 13: Starlin Castro (SS, 2010-15)
Burst onto the scene with a homer, triple and 6 RBI in his MLB debut. Batted .281 in his six seasons with the club.
No. 14: Ernie Banks (SS/1B, 1953-71)
To give this to anyone other than Mr. Cub would be sacrilege. 512 homers. Two NL MVP awards. Let’s play two.
No. 15: Darwin Barney (2B, 2010-14)
Played for the Cubs from 2010-2014 and hit .276 in 2011. Jim Edmonds and Gary Gaetti were other memorable players to wear No. 15.
Nos. 16 - 20
No. 16: Aramis Ramirez (3B, 2003-11)
Joined the Cubs at the trade deadline in 2003 and helped lead the team to the NLCS. Over his nine seasons with the Cubs he hit .294 with 239 homers.
No. 17: Kris Bryant (3B/OF, 2015-present)
He won the 2015 NL Rookie of the Year. NL MVP in 2016. Fielded the grounder to clinch the 2016 World Series. (Sorry, Mark Grace).
No. 18: Ben Zobrist (2B/OF, 2016-19)
Hit .269 over his four seasons with the club. His 2016 World Series MVP award is enough to give him the nod over Moises Alou, Bill Madlock and Glenn Beckert.
No. 19: Matt Murton (LF/RF, 2005-08)
Joined the organization in 2004 as part of the Nomar Garciapara trade. Hit .294 in 308 games with the Cubs.
No. 20: Bob Dernier (CF, 1984-87)
Joined the Cubs just before the start of the 1984 season and hit .278 that season from the leadoff spot as the Cubs broke a 39-year playoff drought.
Nos. 21 - 25
No. 21: Sammy Sosa (RF/CF, 1992-2004)
In his 13 seasons with the club, he hit a franchise-record 545 homers and is the only player in MLB history with 60 or more homers in three different seasons. As for the other stuff…
No. 22: Mark Prior (SP, 2002-06)
The second-overall pick in the 2001 draft, Prior struck out 245 batters and went 18-6 in 2003. Gets the nod over Jason Heyward and Bill Buckner if only for introducing Cubs fans to the towel drill.
No. 23: Ryne Sandberg (2B/3B, 1982-94, 1996-97)
A 10-time All-Star and nine-time Gold Glove winner, Ryno was inducted into Cooperstown in 2005, the same season the team retired his number.
No. 24: Dexter Fowler (CF, 2015-16)
Played for the Cubs for only two seasons, but the team is still looking to fill his absence in the leadoff spot. Had the team not traded Lou Brock after four seasons,this could have gone a different way.
No. 25: Derrek Lee (1B, 2004-10)
Was a .298 hitter with a .903 OPS from 2004-2010, making the All-Star team twice and winning a pair of Gold Gloves.
Nos. 26 - 30
No. 26: Billy Williams (LF/RF, 1959-74)
1961 Rookie of the Year. Six-time All-Star. 1972 NL Batting Champ. Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1987. Was the second Cub to have his number retired.
No. 27: Addison Russell (SS/2B, 2015-19)
Joined the Cubs as a much-heralded prospect in a trade for Jeff Samardzija. His grand slam in Game 6 of the 2016 World Series was the most memorable play of his career.
No. 28: Kyle Hendricks (SP, 2014-present)
Was pitching in Double-A when the Cubs acquired him for Ryan Dempster in 2012. Led the NL with a 2.13 ERA in 2016. Beats out sentimental favorite Todd Hollandsworth.
No. 29: Jeff Samardzija (P, 2008-14)
The ace of the Cubs staff during the lean years in the early 2010’s. Began as a reliever but started 83 games with the Cubs.
No. 30: Ken Holtzman (SP, 1965-71, 1978-79)
Pitched a total of nine seasons for the Cubs, and threw a pair of no-hitters. Edges out fellow pitchers Ted Lilly, Matt Clement and Steve Stone.
Nos. 31 - 35
No. 31: Fergie Jenkins (SP, 1966-73, 1982-83)
His 10 seasons with the Cubs (during which he had a 3.20 ERA) gives him the edge over the other player who is honored by having the number 31 retired by the club, Greg Maddux.
No. 32: Milt Pappas (SP, 1970-73)
Threw a no-hitter for the Cubs in 1972 that arguably (especially by him) should have been a perfect game. Edges out Jon Lieber and Eric Karros.
No. 33: Bill Mueller (3B, 2001-02)
The future AL batting champ hit .277 in 173 games on the North Side. Beats out another future league batting champ, DJ LeMahieu, for the honor.
No. 34: Jon Lester (SP, 2015-present)
May go down as the greatest free agent signing in not only Cubs history, but in the history of Chicago sports. Lester joining the Cubs rotation set the team on the path to a World Series title (all apologies, Kerry Wood).
No. 35: Cole Hamels (SP, 2018-19)
Had a 3.30 ERA during his season and a half with the Cubs. His presence gave the rotation the boost it needed in the final months of the 2018 season.
Nos. 36 - 40
No. 36: Gary Matthews (LF, 1984-87)
Batting behind Ryne Sandberg in the lineup in 1984, “Sarge” finished fifth in MVP voting that season (losing to Ryno).
No. 37: Travis Wood (P, 2013-16)
Appeared in 220 games over five seasons, first as a starter from 2012-14, and then out of the bullpen. Finished his Chicago career with a 3.94 ERA.
No. 38: Carlos Zambrano (SP, 2001-11)
“Big Z” started at least 30 games from 2003-08. His “we stinks” assessment of the 2011 team in early June was spot on.
No. 39: Jason Hammel (SP, 2014-16)
An underrated pitcher from the World Series run. Had a 3.59 ERA over his 78 starts with the Cubs, helping him edge out Mike Krukow and Stan Hack.
No. 40: Rick Sutcliffe (SP, 1984-91)
“The Red Baron” went 16-1 after joining the Cubs in June of 1984 en route to winning the NL Cy Young award. Had a 3.74 ERA over eight seasons in Chicago. Hopefully in a few years Willson Contreras will make us reconsider this decision.
Nos. 41 - 45
No. 41: John Lackey (SP, 2016-17)
He didn’t come here for a haircut, but did give the starting rotation some grit while with the team from 2016-17.
No. 42: Bruce Sutter (RP, 1976-80)
The future Hall of Fame closer started his career with the Cubs, winning the 1979 NL Cy Young award with a 2.22 ERA and 37 saves. Was on the wrong end of the “Sandberg Game” while pitching for the Cardinals in 1984.
No. 43: Dennis Eckersley (SP, 1984-86)
Before becoming a Hall of Fame closer, “Eck” was a starter for the Cubs, going 27-26 with a 3.63 ERA. Beats out a trio of colorful names to also wear No. 43, Peanuts Lowery, Riverboat Smith and Rabbit Warstler.
No. 44: Anthony Rizzo (1B, 2012-present)
Considered the leader of the current Cubs, Rizzo has slashed .277/.376/.496 and captured three Gold Gloves since joining the team in 2102.
No. 45: Terry Mulholland (P, 1997-99)
During the Cubs 1998 playoff run, Mulholland appeared in 70 games and had a 2.89 ERA that season. Beats out fellow pitchers Tom Gordon, Sean Marshall and Paul Assenmacher.
Nos. 46 - 50
No. 46: Lee Smith (RP, 1980-87)
Smith was a dominant closer for the team in the mid-80s, racking up 180 saves over eight seasons in Chicago. Just edges out fellow reliever Pedro Strop on this list.
No. 47: Miguel Montero (C, 2015-17)
Hit just .242 in the regular season from 2015-17, but his pinch-hit 8th inning grand slam in Game 1 of the 2016 NLCS and RBI single in Game 7 of the World Series helps him edge out closer Rod Beck.
No. 48: Rick Reuschel (SP, 1972-81, 1983-84)
Over 12 seasons with the Cubs, Reuschel had a 3.50 ERA and 17 shutouts. Andy Pafko’s .294 batting average over nine seasons made this a close call.
No. 49: Jake Arrieta (SP, 2013-17)
Would win this based on the second half of his 2015 season alone. Over his last 15 starts of that NY Cy Young winning season, Jake went 12-1 with a 0.75 ERA, with opponents hitting just .148 against him.
No. 50: Les Lancaster (RP, 1987-91)
Pitched for the Cubs from 1987-91 and during the team’s run to the playoffs in 1989 had an ERA of just 1.36.
Nos. 51 - 56
No. 51: Heathcliff Slocumb (RP, 1991-93)
The first three of his 10 MLB seasons were spent with the Cubs, where he racked up a 4.45 ERA over 92 appearances.
No. 52: Steve Trachsel (SP, 1993-99, 2007)
Trachsel pitched at least 200 innings in four-straight seasons (1996-99) and started game 163 against the Giants in 1998, when he allowed just one hit over 6.1 scoreless innings.
No. 54: Aroldis Chapman (RP, 2016)
Was only with the team for two months (plus the playoffs) in 2016, but what he helped accomplish will make Cubs fans not care how good Gleyber Torres does for the Yankees.
No. 55: Koyie Hill (C, 2007-12)
Spent six of his 11 MLB seasons with the Cubs, batting .207 in 263 games. Among others to wear No. 55 are Augie Ojeda, Shawn Estes and Kevin Hart (no, not that one).
No. 56: Hector Rondon (RP, 2013-17)
Saved 92 games for the Cubs from 2014-16, and had an ERA of only 1.67 during the 2015 playoff campaign. In Game 4 of the 2015 NLDS he struck out Stephen Piscotty to eliminate the Cardinals.
Nos. 57 - 62
No. 57: Antonio Alfonseca (RP, 2002-03)
Perhaps best known as having six fingers on each hand, the righty managed just 19 saves from 2002-03, finishing his Cubs career with a 4.86 ERA.
No. 58: Geovany Soto (C, 2005-12)
The catcher wore No. 58 from 2005-07 before switching to No. 8 for his 2008 Rookie of the Year season, but we’ll honor him here (especially since only five other players wore No. 58 for the Cubs, and none since 2010).
No. 60: Manny Corpas (RP, 2012)
With only five players to ever wear No. 60, we’ll go with reliever Corpas, who appeared in 48 games for the Cubs in the 2012 season.
No. 61: Babe Phelps (C, 1933-34)
A catcher for the team in 1933 and 1934, Phelps hit .286 with a pair of homers in 47 games with the North Siders.
No. 62: Jose Quintana (SP, 2017-present)
In his two and a half seasons with the Cubs, Quintana is 33-23 with a 4.23 ERA, just enough to edge out Bob Howry, who pitched for the Cubs for four seasons.
Nos. 63 - 99
No. 63: Kevin Gregg (RP, 2009, 2013)
In 134 appearances he had 54 saves. Carmen Pignatiello and Brian Schlitter were the only competition for Gregg.
No. 64: Emilio Bonifacio (CF/2B, 2014)
Hit .279 while appearing in 69 games for the Cubs during the 2014 season. One of just three players to wear this number (Justin Berg, Jamie Garcia).
No. 68: Jorge Soler (RF/LF, 2014-16)
The hands-down winner (because he is the only Cub to wear No. 68). During his three seasons on the North Side, Soler had an OPS of .762, and in the 2015 NLDS went 4-7 with two homers
No. 70: Joe Maddon (Manager, 2015-19)
No position player has ever worn No. 70 for the Cubs, but the man who brought an end to the 108 year World Series drought must be on this list.
No. 71: Wade Davis (RP, 2017)
Was lights-out for most of the 2017 season as the team’s closer, when he converted his first 32 save opportunities. Had a 2.30 ERA in the regular season, but allowed three runs in 6.1 innings during the postseason.
No. 99: Todd Hundley (2001-02)
The catcher also wore No. 9 during his run with the Cubs. Struggled at the plate, batting just .199, but the Cubs were able to get Eric Karros and Mark Grudzielanek from the Dodgers in exchange for Hundley before the 2003 season.