Who are the 5 best players drafted by the Chicago Cubs?

Richard Johnson
(Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
(Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /
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Josh Donaldson / Chicago Cubs
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Chicago Cubs: An MVP and a criminally underrated starting pitcher

#4 Josh Donaldson (2007/1), 44.4 career WAR

From ages 27 through 33, Donaldson had a Hall of Fame-caliber career.  Here’s a list of wild-card era players by WAR over that age span. It’s moneywalled, but to give a sense of it, Donaldson accumulated 39.5 WAR, just ahead of Adrian Beltre (38.7) and a bit behind Joey Votto (41.0). Yet Donaldson will likely get into the Hall the same way as the rest of us: by buying a ticket.

This is because he was a very late bloomer; his age-27 season was also his first complete season as a lineup regular. It’s relatively rare for players to start this late and get this good. Al Rosen, who manned the hot corner for the Spiders in the early Cold War years, is close, but Donaldson has already been better than Rosen, and he’s still chugging along at 35, while Rosen was done by 32.

The other thing Rosen and Donaldson have in common is that they produced the exact same amount of WAR for the Cubs (0.0). The Cubs missed on Donaldson, but given the rarity of his career path, it’s hard to be too harsh on them for that.

#3 Rick Reuschel (1970/3), 69.5 career WAR

There’s a decent argument that Reuschel is the best eligible pitcher not in the Hall of Fame.  Looking at the guys above him on the pitching WAR list, let’s see, Kevin Brown’s not in. Jim McCormick, a 19th century guy, isn’t in. And … that’s about it. Kershaw and Verlander will almost certainly go in; Kershaw’s WAR is currently 69.1 and Verlander’s is 72.2. Yet Reuschel received only two more Hall of Fame votes than you did. Perhaps he was born too soon; voters today give more weight to a broader set of statistical performance indicators and less to raw win totals.