There are some all-time Cubs greats in this installment... and other guys you have likely never heard of.
Just another reminder that you can read stories behind many of these numbers in “Cubs By The Numbers,” by Kasey Ignarski, Matt Silverman and me, 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.
On to the 40s! A note: For pitchers, only their WAR while pitching is considered.
40: Rick Sutcliffe still holds the mark for Cubs No. 40s with 21.8 bWAR ... which could have been higher if not for all his injuries. Willson Contreras, at 11.8, is two to three years away from passing Sutcliffe. 1970s righthander Lynn McGlothen ranks third at 6.3.
41: Not many really good players here. The “Dirt Man,” Dick Tidrow, a solid reliever from 1979-82, heads up this list at 5.6 bWAR. John Lackey is second with 3.9 in his two years in the Cubs rotation.
42: This number, now retired across MLB to honor Jackie Robinson, was last worn by a Cubs player in 1992 (the unlamented Dave Smith). Bruce Sutter posted 18.5 bWAR wearing it from 1976-80, by far the most for any Cub No. 42. The only other Cubs to have even 1.0 career bWAR wearing No. 42 were Jack Curtis (1.3, 1961-62) and Rich Bordi (1.1, 1983-84).
43: Slugger Bill Nicholson wore this number from 1943-48 and posted 22.9 bWAR. Dennis Eckersley, 10.6 bWAR from 1984-86 is second. If only the Cubs had taken the advice they were given and kept him and converted him to relief.
44: Anthony Rizzo moved into the top spot for Cub No. 44s after 2019. His 3.8 bWAR season gave him 33.9 for his career, slightly more than Phil Cavarretta at 33.2. Cavvy wore four different numbers for the Cubs, but was most famous for and spent the longest time in No. 44 (also 3, 23 and 43), which he wore from 1941-53. At 10.3, Burt Hooton is a distant third.
45: Lefthanders win the day! Sean Marshall tops this list with 8.2 bWAR in his six years as a Cub. Second place to another lefty, Paul Assenmacher, with 5.1. And yet another southpaw, Terry Mulholland, comes in third with 3.4.
46: In one of the closest “races” here, Ryan Dempster (19.8 bWAR) edges out Lee Smith (19.0). Steve Trachsel is third with 10.8 — he wore No. 52 on his return to the Cubs in 2008 and had -1.2 bWAR wearing that number. 1960s righthander Larry Jackson is fourth at 10.0. Pedro Strop? Just 7.3.
47: Peanuts Lowrey, a 1940s outfielder who later became a longtime Cubs coach, was a better player than you’d think: 11.3 bWAR wearing No. 47 from 1943-49. Dennis Lamp is the runner-up at 7.8.
48: Rick Reuschel is the runaway winner here with 48.2 bWAR nearly matching uniform No. 48. (He also posted -0.1 wearing No. 47 when he returned in 1983.) Andy Pafko is second at 26.9.
49: Jake Arrieta’s big years with the Cubs get him this honor, 20.0 bWAR in blue pinstripes. Bill Hands is second at 13.2. Jamie Moyer finishes third at 5.1.