Chicago Cubs Greatest All-Time Players: No. 12 – Joe Tinker
Over the years, defensive-minded players seem to fall in and out of favor with the people building big league rosters. But in the early 20th century, Joe Tinker was one of the first to really make defense a staple of his game – and show that it could cement a guy’s place in the lineup.
Similar to his teammate Johnny Evers, Tinker was never an offensive juggernaut (to say the least). But he was a sure-handed, slick-fielding shortstop that anchored the infield during one of the most successful eras in Cubs history from 1902 to 1912 that culminated in two titles and four total pennants. Casual work, right?
He wasn’t just one of the best defensive players in Cubs history, either. He ranks fifth in baseball history in defensive WAR and has forever etched his name into the memories of generations of fans.
During the Cubs’ 1908 championship season, Tinker did it all – putting together one of the best offensive showings of his career, with a 118 OPS+ and playing in a league-leading 157 contests. Later on in his career, he held his own a bit more offensiely, but that’s never what he’ll be known for.
This guy is a legend when it comes to the leather – and for all you Javier Baez aficionados out there, you should take some time to appreciate what Tinker did at the position more than a century ago.
Accomplishments & Awards
- Two-time World Series champion (1907, 1908)