The 1998 Chicago Cubs had some strengths but also some pretty glaring weaknesses. What if Hall of Famer Greg Maddux was part of it?
It was tough for Chicago Cubs fans to not only watch the great Greg Maddux end up in Atlanta in 1993, but also see him beat them in the 1998 playoffs. The ’98 Cubs, led by Sammy Sosa‘s historic National League MVP season, clinched the Wild Card in 163 games. They got swept in the NLDS by a vastly superior Atlanta Braves squad.
Nobody expected that Cubs team to go on a run. Despite winning 90 games, they were nowhere near close to being good enough to beat any of the elite National League teams in the playoffs. Some referred to the NLDS as a “bye week” for the Braves. Even with Sosa, Mark Grace and rookie sensation Kerry Wood, the squad had noticeable weaknesses.
A fun question to ask, what if they had Maddux at the top of their rotation? Instead of going to Atlanta several years earlier, he was still a Chicago Cub and being part of only the third Cubs postseason team since 1945. At 32 years of age in 1998 the Hall of Famer was still in the prime of his career. That season he pitched to a 2.22 ERA with a 0.98 WHIP, 2.81 FIP and nine complete games in 34 starts. What kind of difference could he have made?