When you root for a team like the Chicago Cubs, one of the most interesting aspects of your fandom is the history. We’re talking about more than a century of statistics, stories and personalities that have entertained generations of fans.
There have been some illustrious names to suit up for the North Siders. So many, in fact, you almost have to find a way to break it down and make it a bit more digestible when you’re talking about the team’s all-time best.
For our purposes here, I’ve narrowed this list of the best pitchers in Cubs history down to just five names. These pitchers span different eras in franchise history and played in wildly varying conditions, but at the end of the day, they stand above the countless other arms to take the mound for the team.
Chicago Cubs Greatest All-Time Pitchers: No. 5 – Charlie Root
If a baseball fan knows the name Charlie Root, it’s probably not as one of the greatest pitchers in Cubs history. More likely, it’s because he was on the wrong end of Babe Ruth’s rumored “called shot” during the 1932 World Series.
But let me tell you. There was a whole lot more to Root’s career than that one moment that may or may not have even happened. This guy was a stud for the club for the better part of two decades, anchoring pitching staffs that reached four World Series during his career.
Root made his Cubs debut in 1926 as a 27-year-old, immediately making his presence felt, making 32 starts, eating 271 1/3 innings and working to a 2.82 ERA. Now, the right-hander was never a big strikeout guy (he averaged 4.1 strikeouts per nine during his 17-year career), but he kept the ball in the yard and his team in just about every game he started.
His best season came the very next year, when he won a league-best 26 games, making 36 starts and a dozen relief appearances for Chicago. He racked up a staggering 309 innings that year, finishing fourth in the MVP race. But to say that was the end of his accomplishments on the mound would be wildly inaccurate.
For the next 15 years, Root was a steady presence for the team. That’s not to say he was the best pitcher in the league by any means. But he accumulated over 3,100 innings in his Cubs career, in which he turned in a 3.60 ERA and 3.82 FIP. To this day, he remains the only pitcher in franchise history with more than 200 wins – just eclipsing the number with 201 in his time on the North Side.