In Part 1 of this series, covering numbers 1 through 9, we found that a lot of the best players by number dated back to the 1930s.
That won’t be the case for the numbers in the teens, especially the two retired numbers in this decile.
Another plug, if you don’t mind, for the book co-written by me, Kasey Ignarski and Matt Silverman, “Cubs By The Numbers,” a fun look through the history of our favorite franchise’s jersey digits. An updated version of the book came out in 2016. Get yours here.
Now, on to the teens!
10: Obviously, the great Hall of Fame third baseman Ron Santo, 72.1 bWAR as a Cub. No one else is even close. Leon Durham is a distant second at 15.1.
11: Billy Jurges, the Cubs’ shortstop for most of the 1930s, tops this list at 10.9 Next is Don Kessinger. Kess was a weak hitter and almost all of his value was on defense, so he only posted 9.4 bWAR in 12 years as a Cub. Ron Cey is third at 6.9. If Yu Darvish has a couple of good years he could top this list soon.
12: It’s a close three-way race currently led by Shawon Dunston (9.7 bWAR). Alfonso Soriano had 8.2 in his six-plus years with the Cubs. Kyle Schwarber (5.3) probably passes both of them in a couple of years. Andre Thornton is fourth at 5.2.
13: Despite six good years from Starlin Castro in a Cubs uniform (10.6 bWAR), this top spot is still held by 1940s righthander Claude Passeau (16.5). David Bote (3.2) might have a shot if he has some good seasons upcoming.
14: Of course, it’s Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks (67.8). Of the eight players who wore No. 14 before Ernie, the best was lefthander Larry French, 8.7 bWAR from 1935-41.
15: This is not a number that’s been worn with much distinction by Cubs players. The all-time bWAR leader is 1930s era righthander Bill Lee, who posted 6.8 bWAR in just two years (1935-36) wearing No. 15. Darwin Barney, 6.3 from 2010-14 is second. Barney is also the only Cub to have worn it for more than four sasons.
16: Aramis Ramirez, 24.1 bWAR, and it’s not close. 1930s era righthander Lon Warneke comes in second with 11.6 (1933-34) and Tex Carleton had 4.6 from 1935-38.
17: Kris Bryant has a long way to go to catch Mark Grace (46.4). KB has had a good five years, but they come to about half of Grace’s total at 23.9. 1950s righthander Bob Rush is a distant third, 12.6.
18: Glenn Beckert joins his double-play partner Don Kessinger as being the best to wear his Cubs uniform number. 15.6 bWAR for Beckert. Bill Madlock had 11.5 in three Cubs seasons (1974-76). 8.2 for Geovany Soto is third, and that only counts from 2008-12, as he wore No. 58 before 2008. Ben Zobrist’s four Cubs seasons posted 6.8 bWAR for fourth.
19: This is another number not worn by many memorable Cubs. Manny Trillo is one of only two Cubs to wear it for more than three seasons (Jimmy Stewart, a 1960s infielder, was the other, but he was worth negative bWAR as a Cub). Trillo, though, posted only 2.2 bWAR in his seven Cubs seasons. So we’ll wrap today’s installment with two unexpected winners: Matt Murton, who had 3.7 bWAR wearing No. 19 for three-plus Cubs years, tied by Charlie Root, who spent one year wearing No. 19 (1933) and had a 3.7 bWAR season.