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Chicago Cubs / Ernie Banks
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Chicago Cubs Greatest Rookie Seasons of All-Time – #8: Ernie Banks (1954)

We know that Ernie Banks is one of the most celebrated players in Cubs history. We know about how he spent his entire career with the team, slugging 512 home runs. We know about the MVP seasons of 1958 and 1959. We know how he was an ambassador for the team for many years after he stopped playing. What we tend to forget is that he had a pretty good rookie season, too.

Banks made his debut late in the 1953 season, getting into ten games and, albeit in a small sample size, posted an impressive .956 OPS. The next year, his official rookie season, he got into all 154 Cubs games. He batted .275 with 19 home runs and 79 RBI, finishing second in NL Rookie of the Year voting and even finishing 16th in NL MVP voting.

It was only the beginning of a legendary run. The next year, 1955, Banks would start a streak of eight straight seasons in which he made the NL All-Star team. From 1955 to 1960, excluding 1956, he played in every Cubs game. He also hit over 40 home runs in five of the next six seasons while leading the National League in home runs twice and in RBIs twice. He did all this while playing shortstop, a position that wasn’t typically known for strong offensive players.

Banks would later move to first base to help prolong his career, while he continued to be a productive player all through the 1960s. In the end, he would make 14 All-Star teams and was an easy choice to gain election to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1977. It all started with that 1954 season; while it was far from his best season, it was a great effort that led to much more success.