Chicago Cubs will look to break this particular streak in 2024

The Chicago Cubs have had some notable power hitters since 2005, but none of them have done what Derek Lee did that season.
Chicago Cubs v Pittsburgh Pirates
Chicago Cubs v Pittsburgh Pirates / George Gojkovich/GettyImages
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In 2005 the Cubs faithful were treated to a pretty rough year of baseball, seeing them go 79-83 and missing the postseason. However, they did have Derek Lee, who put up an MVP-caliber season in which he finished with the highest average (.335), slugging (.662), OPS (1.080), and OPS+ (174) in all of baseball. He was also the MLB leader in doubles (50) and the National League leader in hits (199). He provided plenty of home run power with 46 long balls that year.

Those 46 home runs by Lee in 2005 marked the last time a Chicago Cub hit 40+ homers in a season. 18 seasons have gone by since then. To put that in perspective, the Chicago Tribune still owned the Cubs, Theo Epstein was fresh off breaking the Red Sox drought, the Wrigley Field bleachers were still in the old 1937 configuration and Pete Crow-Armstrong was three years old.

Since Lee's 46-homer campaign, the Cubs have fielded notable sluggers including Aramis Ramirez, Alfonso Soriano, Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Kyle Schwarber, and Cody Bellinger. There were a few close calls, including Bryant's 2016 MVP season in which he hit 39 homers and Schwarber hit 38 in 2019 but those were as close as a Cub has gotten since. One could wonder if Soriano would have hit 40+ in 2008 had he not suffered a broken hand and missed time (he hit 29 in 109 games) or if Lee would have done it again in his time with the Cubs had he not suffered the broken wrist in 2006.

There have not been many Cubs to hit 40+ homers over the past few decades that were not named Sammy Sosa. Ryne Sandberg did it in 1990 (40) and Andre Dawson in 1987 (49). Then you have to go further back to Dave Kingman in 1979 (48) and then to Ernie Banks and Billy Williams in the 1950s-1970 where they did it a combined seven times. Hank Sauer (41 in 1954) and Hack Wilson (56 in 1930) were the other two to reach that mark.

Can this streak end next season? Currently on the team, the notable power bats include Christopher Morel, Seiya Suzuki, Patrick Wisdom, Ian Happ, and Dansby Swanson. Each of them hit 20+ homers. We will see if Bellinger stays around and Wisdom is likely gone next year, but you can count on Morel, Suzuki, Happ, and Swanson being around. While they all have some pop, 40 homers is a bit of a stretch for them as they are more likely going to stay in the 20-30 range.

Now, if the Cubs were to get Pete Alonso, there is a 40-homer hitter right there. He has hit 40+ three times in his career. There are also some rumblings around Juan Soto, who has yet to hit 40 in a season but has hit mid-30s in several seasons. Alonso would be the more likely 40+ home run candidate of the two if they were to land one of them.

Time will tell how it plays out, but it would be interesting to see who the next 40+ home run hitter for the Cubs ends up being. It would be nice to see sooner than later.

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