clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

All-Star Cubs Killers

New, 77 comments

These are the villains that have tormented you through your years of Cub fandom.

Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Carlos Lee was a good ballplayer against 29 other teams. Against the Cubs, he was a borderline Hall-of-Famer. Lee hit 39 of his career 358 home runs against the Cubs. He didn’t hit more than 19 against any other team. On top of that, Lee played all but 140 games of his career for rivals of the Cubs: The White Sox, Brewers and Astros (when they were still in the NL Central). He may not have been the player whose name makes me I wince the most, but he’s way up there.

That got me to thinking that I could put together an all-star team of all-time “Cubs Killers.” These are the players who did the most over the years to keep the Cubs from winning. If the Cubs played a team made up of just these guys every game, they’d lose 100 games every year. If it’s any consolation, pretty much every team would lose over 100 games against these players. They’re all All-Stars and many of them are in the Hall of Fame.

I used this database at Baseball Musings to give me a list of candidates, but I didn’t restrict myself merely to the statistics. Much of this is a personal list and I urge you all to mention the players you hate to see the Cubs face.

I also limited my list to players after the split to two divisions in 1969. I figured that is when divisional rivalries start (with 18 games a year against NL East teams) as well as it being about as far back as most of you can remember. This exercise is really about bad memories. We can do this now that we have a World Series glow to bask in.

With that said, my all-star Cubs-killer team is:

Catcher: Ted Simmons. 193 games. .334/.396/.507. 23 home runs, 111 RBI.

Gary Carter was also considered here as he had more games, more home runs and more RBI against the Cubs. Plus, he was a better defensive player. But the defense is mitigated somewhat because it wasn’t like the Cubs of the 1970s stole a ton of bases and Carter’s triple-slash line was significantly lower. (.274/.346/.477) Plus, Simmons gets bonuses in this category for being a Cardinal.

Simmons was a very underrated player in his career and was always in Johnny Bench’s shadow in the race for the best catcher in the NL in the seventies. But modern statistics argue that his defense was much better than his reputation at the time and he gets mentioned a lot as one of the best players not in the Hall of Fame.

First base: Albert Pujols. 182 games. .297/.399/.613. 56 home runs, 144 RBI.

So, pretty much what Pujols did against every team during his Cardinals career. Only one player has more home runs against the Cubs since 1969 than Pujols has. Mark McGwire has a case here as he hit 23 home runs in just 42 games against the Cubs. That gave him an .812 slugging percentage. Ouch. Joey Votto and Paul Goldschmidt both have a chance to take this title away from The Machine one day.

Second base: Craig Biggio. 246 games. .275/.364/.460. 34 home runs. 109 RBI. 32 steals.

So again, close to what Biggio did against everyone, except in the power department. Biggio’s 34 home runs against the Cubs is easily the most against any opponent in his Hall-of-Fame career. The second-most was a tie at 22 home runs versus both the Cardinals and Padres. Biggio has the second-most hits in the divisional era against the Cubs with 264, only behind the guy at third base.

The other candidates for the title were Jeff Kent and Joe Morgan, but neither one played in the same division as the Cubs and don’t have the raw totals that Biggio had.

Third base: Mike Schmidt. 269 games. .292/.387/.598. 78 home runs, 207 RBI.

Other than Willie Mays, the all-time Cubs-killer. Schmidt was good hitter everywhere and at all times, but he really loved to hit during the day and he loved to hit at Wrigley Field. His 284 hits against the Cubs are the most of any hitter in the divisional era.

Shortstop: Barry Larkin. 175 games. .317/.392/.480. 17 home runs, 117 runs scored, 32 steals.

Not a lot of competition here as the Cubs seem to keep shortstops in check. Ozzie Smith had more hits and steals, but only two home runs and in 75 more games. Smith’s 263 hits is only one behind Biggio.

Anyway, Larkin’s line against the Cubs is better than his career .295/.371/.444 line that he had against all teams in his Hall-of-Fame career. The Astros were the only team he had more hits against. So he did seem to save his best for the North Siders.

Left field: Ryan Braun. 137 games. .336/.411/.585. 28 home runs, 107 RBI. 21 steals.

The player you all love to hate, for all the right reasons. Braun actually has more home runs against the Reds and is a better hitter against the Phillies, albeit in fewer games. But Braun has been destroying the Cubs since entering the league in 2007 and could end up there with Schmidt and Mays as the all-time destroyers of the Cubs.

Barry Bonds is third on the home run list against the Cubs since 1969 with 47. But the Cubs held him to “just” a .250 batting average and a .375 OBP, which is significantly below his career averages. Adam Dunn is fourth on the home run list with 43.

If I had counted statistics before 1969, Lou Brock might take the title. In addition to hitting .334/.378/.479 against the Cubs over his whole career, he also has the added irritation factor of being Lou Brock and not being Ernie Broglio.

Center field: Al Oliver. 201 games. .333/.372/.525. 29 home runs, 138 RBI.

Willie Mays would have easily taken this title had I not drawn a line at the start of divisional play. Even in just 40 games at the twilight of his career, Mays hit .352/.442/.907 with eight home runs against the Cubs.

Oliver is mostly forgotten these days, but he finished his career with 2,743 hits and a career .303 average. He was the center fielder on the Pirates teams of the 1970s when the Pirates were very good and the Cubs were really bad. He also won a batting title in Montreal in 1982, although he was a first baseman by then. Oliver’s 263 hits against the Cubs is tied for third in the divisional era.

Andy Van Slyke (.300/.386/.528 in 129 games) also tormented the Cubs.

Right field: Tony Gwynn. 168 games. .333/.387/.439. 7 home runs, 24 steals, 96 runs scored.

The only non-divisional rival to make the list among hitters, Gwynn’s totals against the Cubs were slightly below his career averages. Gwynn tormented the Braves and Giants a lot more than the Cubs. But Gwynn gets extra credit (or demerits, depending on how you look at it) for going 7 for 19 with three doubles in the 1984 NLCS.

Without the NLCS bonus, the title could go to Dave Parker, who hit .329/.388/.517 with 27 home runs in 200 games against the Cubs.

Designated hitter: Carlos Lee. 148 games. .294/.353/.552. 39 home runs, 109 RBI.

Since Lee and Schmidt inspired me to make this list, I had to include him, even if Braun was a better choice for left field.

Starting Pitchers:

Tom Seaver. 45 games, 320⅔ innings. 21-15, 2.69 ERA. 268 Ks.

Greg Maddux. 24 games, 169⅔ innings. 12-4, 2.65 ERA. 117 Ks.

Nolan Ryan. 33 games, 196⅔ innings. 16-5, 2.29 ERA. 184 Ks.

Steve Rogers. 46 games, 328 innings. 21-13, 2.69 ERA. 188 Ks.

It would figure that not one but two members of the 1969 Mets would make the list as well as the Hall of Famer the Cubs let walk away. (Seaver and Ryan’s totals do not include pre-1969 games, but in Ryan’s case that’s just one start) The other one here is Steve Rogers and if you’re old enough to remember Rogers, he just dominated the Cubs for years. Pitching in Olympic Stadium also helped him as the Cubs were generally pretty helpless against everyone in Montreal in the seventies and early eighties.

Chris Carpenter (11-6, 3.06 ERA) gets an honorable mention here.

Relievers:

Todd Worrell. 53 games, 70.1 innings. 1-3, 1.79 ERA. 30 saves. 62 strikeouts.

Billy Wagner. 48 games, 55 innings. 6-1, 1.47 ERA. 25 saves. 64 strikeouts.

Trevor Hoffman. 64 games, 68 innings. 3-6, 2.51 ERA. 38 saves. 65 strikeouts.

These three are 1-2-3 on the career saves against the Cubs list. I thought Hoffman’s ERA might have been inflated by his final two seasons in Milwaukee, but he was actually pretty good against the Cubs in those two seasons with the Brewers.

So that’s my enemies list. What’s yours?