Chicago Cubs: Ryne Sandberg, Hall of Famers and the 1989 Cubs
The 1989 Chicago Cubs were one of the top teams in the league. Ryne Sandberg led a powerful team full of Hall of Famers to the the postseason that year.
In 1989, second baseman Ryne Sandberg was in his eighth year with the Chicago Cubs and he did not disappoint. Sandberg played in 157 games that season, hitting for a .290 average while managing to drive 76 runs on 176 hits.
Sandberg won both the Silver Slugger and Gold Glove awards that season. The 2005 Hall of Fame inductee, of course, had his 23 number retired by the Cubs following his Hall of Fame induction. But along with Sandberg, there were two other names who played a huge part in the offense.
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Andre Dawson, an outfielder from Miami, had plenty of power in his bat as he blasted 21 home runs while slugging .476. His style of play was unbelievable, as his outstanding .987 fielding percentage led all National League right fielders. Throughout the season, ‘The Hawk’ only committed six errors in 1,870 innings of play in the outfield. Today, Dawson is enshrined along with his teammate Sandberg in Cooperstown, to which he gained induction in 2010.
The final member of this trio was Mark Grace. Grace was an outstanding player for the Cubs, with whom he spent 13 years. During the 1989 season, he was your man if you needed to get on base. His .405 on-base percentage was the team-high that year. Grace hit the ball extremely well also. His .314 batting average helped him accumulate 233 total bases score 74 runs in the process.
Fun fact; Did you know that Joe Girardi was a Cub? The well-known manager of the Philadelphia Phillies (and formerly, the New York Yankees), he appeared in 59 games for the Cubs in 1989. Girardi hit for a .248 average in his 172 plate appearances.
Throwing some fire
Not only did they have talent in the field but they had a formidable pitching staff, as well. Greg Maddux was one of these talents on the mound. At the age of 23, the right-hander finished the season with a 19-12 record.
Maddux in his fourth year with the Cubs and led the team with a 2.95 ERA. Striking out 135 in 238 1/3 innings Maddux was already dominating the mound at an early age. The 2014 Hall of Fame inductee finished third in NL Cy Young voting that season. Of course, he went on to have a tremendous career with the Cubs and Atlanta Braves before hanging up his spikes for good.
Rick Sutcliffe was nearing the end of his historic career with the club. The 2000 Hall of Fame inductee finished the 1989 season with a fairly standard 16-11 record.. While only hitting two batters in his 229 innings he pitched was impressive, he also led the team in strikeouts with 153. The 1989 All-Star ended the season sixth in the wins column.
In addition to Sutcliffe and Maddux, a 29-year-old right-hander from Baltimore, Maryland was making a name for himself. Mike Bielecki was one of the top pitchers in the league, finishing with an impressive 18 wins. He worked to a 3.14 ERA, striking out 147 batters in his 212 1/3 innings of work. Bielecki finished ninth in Cy Young voting, despite his .720 winning percentage which ranked third in the league.
Trouble continues in the postseason
With future Hall of Famers on the team, the Chicago Cubs turned in one of the better seasons in their history. Although the ultimate goal of winning the World Series wasn’t reached, they did show why they were one of the top teams in 1989 – a combination of strong hitting, fundamental defense and a loaded pitching staff.
Not every team that finishes first in their division will go on to win the World Series. The Cubs were one of the top teams in the National League in 1989, but, unfortunately lost to the San Francisco Giants in the National League Championship Series, further prolonging their championship drought.