Chicago Cubs: Five unique records and milestones set by Cubs
Chicago Cubs: While most remembered today for his time with Ron Santo and Billy Williams, “Mr. Cub” Ernie Banks had his most significant years in the 1950s.
There were several records and milestones set by Ernie Banks throughout the 1950s. Most notably was him becoming the first player in National League history to win back-to-back MVP awards in 1958 and 1959.
Those two seasons, he hit a combined 92 homers with a .308/.370/.605 slash, .975 OPS, 272 RBI, and 16.7 fWAR (cumulative) in 309 games. In 1958 he was number one in home runs, RBI, and total bases in all of baseball. Both 1958 and 1959, he led baseball in RBI.
What made him winning MVP both these seasons even more impressive was the fact he did this on bad, irrelevant Cubs teams. While RBI is not necessarily a great stat to measure individual success, driving in 272 runs on bad teams is nothing to squawk at.
Might as well also shout out the fact that Banks set the National League record for Grand Slams in one season (5) in 1955. Albert Pujols had since tied that in 2009 but yet to be broken before Banks struggled with leg problems (resulting in him moving from shortstop to first), he had such tremendous power.
He hit 40+ homers five times 1955-1960. Fans got to watch his raw power on display in the Home Run Derby series, which started in 1959 as he took on the likes of Mickey Mantle in home run hitting contests.
It is a shame Banks saw his prime years wasted on non-competitive teams that played in front of a lot of sparse crowds in the 50s. Yet, Ernie could not be happier to be a Cub. We miss his presence at Wrigley Field every day and will miss it forever.