Chicago Cubs: 25 best all-time players in franchise history

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Chicago Cubs

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

The Chicago Cubs have a rich history. Here are their 25 best players of all-time.

Although they weren’t always the Chicago Cubs, the franchise itself – in all its variations – dates back to 1870. So when we start talking about compiling a list of 25 players that stand out as the best ever, it’s easier said than done.

A lot of fans have a recency bias. It’s hard not to, especially in the wake of the Cubs winning the 2016 World Series – the team’s first title in well over a century. You have to include someone like Kris Bryant on such a list, right? He took home National League Rookie of the Year honors in his first season, followed it up by winning NL MVP and a World Series the next year, and has been an All-Star three of his first five seasons.

We’ll have to see how it shakes out. Let’s get into the driving criteria behind this list. In an effort to bridge the gaps between the countless eras these Cubs players lived in, we’re going to break it all down to Fangraphs WAR. Why? It’s all-inclusive and boils player performance down to one easy-to-digest number.

You can argue with it, form your own opinions or consider this the penultimate source for the 25 best all-time players in Cubs history. That’s up to you. Let’s get started.

Chicago Cubs Greatest All-Time Players: No. 25 – Hippo Vaughn

25
Hippo Vaughn
Pitcher

WAR: 35.0

You’re probably more familiar with names like Fergie Jenkins and Greg Maddux when you’re thinking about some of the all-time Cubs pitching greats. But the man who laid the foundation first took the mound for Chicago in 1913 — one year after the Titanic sank and a full six years before the Red Sox traded Babe Ruth to the Yankees. His name? Hippo Vaughn.

The left-hander made just seven appearances that first year with the club, but from there on out, he was one of the best hurlers in the game. Vaughn won 20 or more contests five times from 1913 to 1921, working to a cumulative 2.33 ERA in over 2,200 innings of work.

Strikeouts weren’t really a thing at this time. He led the league in both 1917 and 1918 with 5.9 and 4.6 strikeouts per nine, respectively. That didn’t stop him from dominating, though. In the 1918 Fall Classic, Vaughn started three games against Boston, working to 1.00 ERA in 27 innings of work.

That’s right, he threw complete games in all three of his World Series starts – allowing a grand total of three runs. And the team still lost two of the three games.

Accomplishments & Awards – note: all accomplishments and awards are restricted to the player’s tenure with Chicago; others are not included here.

  • Pitching Triple Crown (1918)
  • ERA Title (1918)

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