Mark Grace – 1988 to 2000
Mark Grace is one of my all-time favorite Chicago Cubs players. He was a doubles machine – hitting over 500 during his sixteen year career with the Cubs and the Arizona Diamondbacks. Grace changed the way some teams looked at the clean-up hitter spot when the Cubs started to bat him in the fourth spot. While Grace was not one who displayed great power (173 career home runs), he was one of the best all-around hitters in baseball.
Grace always displayed a very disciplined approach at the plate with his great bat control and keen eye. Even if Grace couldn’t get the hit, he was excellent at putting the ball in play to give any runners on base a chance to score. Grace wasn’t just known as a great hitter – he was an excellent defensive first baseman – winning four Gold Glove awards as a member of the franchise.
Grace was also known for a being one of the leaders of the Cubs but not in the “tough love” way; Grace was more of a joker and kept the locker room and dugout light with his sense of humor and his passion for playing the game.
In 2000, Grace’s contract was up and the Cubs declined to offer him salary arbitration. The Cubs’ loss was the Arizona Diamondbacks gain. Grace signed with Arizona and in his first season with the team, he went to the World Series and won his first – and only – ring. I think most of us Cubs fans for that week or more all became temporary Diamondbacks fans for Grace and his chance to win it all.
Cubs Career stats: .308 average, 148 home runs, 1,004 runs batted in