Countdown to Opening Day: 18 Days…No. 18, Geovany Soto and others

Geovany Soto

was one in a long line of #18’s who were good but not great in Cubbie Blue. Credit: Matt Kartozian-US PRESSWIRE

18 Days to Opening Day and Chicago Cub fans know No. 18 will not be retired anytime soon in Chicago. There is not a player headed to Cooperstown that donned the number on the North Side, but there has been some good players wear it.

From 1965 to 1973 it was one of the best second basemen to play in Chicago who wore it, Glenn Beckert. He was not Ryne Sandberg, but then again, who is? Beckert spent 11 of his 13 major league seasons at Wrigley Field and was a productive part of a lineup that nearly brought postseason play to Chicago on multiple occasions. He found himself in the Top 10 of MVP voting in 1968 after leading the NL in runs scored with 98. He was 11th in MVP voting in 1971 after hitting .342. Beckert won a Gold Glove in 1968 and was a four-time All-Star.

Bill Madlock was the next man to wear No. 18 in 1974 at age 23. Madlock, who only played three seasons with the Cubs, won two batting titles and hit .336 on the North Side. He also finished third in Rookie of the Year voting in 1974 and earned All-Star honors in 1975.

Dwight Smith was second in Rookie of the Year voting behind teammate Jerome Walton in 1989 while wearing No. 18, when he hit .340. After Smith it was Jose Hernandez who wore No. 18. Hernandez was a mainstay in the 1990’s with the Cubs and was a solid utility infielder that played just about everywhere and wasn’t overly productive. He was good enough to stay with the team for seven seasons. Hernandez was good for 18-20 home runs and 60-75 runs batted in a season in the mid-90’s. He actually never led the league in anything, except for strikeouts, twice. He did that in Milwaukee a few years after leaving Chicago.

Moises Alou wore it for the Cubs during his three seasons in Chicago. Alou averaged 25 home runs a year while averaging driving in 86 runs a season between 2002 and 2004. There was also this one foul ball I think we all wish he would have gotten to in 2003, but that’s another story.

Finally, for all the rookies who played well with No. 18 on their back, do not forget about Geovany Soto in 2008. Soto won the 2008 Rookie of the Year award and helped the team to a 97-win game season, when he hit .285 with 23 home runs, 86 RBIs, and was named an All-Star.