Pitchers, a few bench players, some September callups, some blasts from the past... we run the gamut in the 50s.
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.
And one more time: For pitchers, only their WAR while pitching is considered.
50: Just one Cubs player wore this number for more than three seasons, and he tops the No. 50 list... Les Lancaster, who was better than you remember, 7.1 bWAR.
51: Versatile infielder/outfielder Augie Galan wore this number for two seasons (1935-36) and posted 8.0 bWAR in those two years. 1940s outfielder Ival Goodman is next best at 2.0 and reliever Terry Adams is third with 1.4.
52: Justin Grimm, who was a good reliever for a while, wound up on top here at 1.0 bWAR for his four Cubs seasons. Reggie Patterson, a righthander from 1983-85, had 0.8.
53: Johnny Schmitz, who pitched for the Cubs from 1941-42 and 1946-51, had 16.2 bWAR wearing No. 53 from ‘46 through ‘51 (and negative bWAR in the other two seasons). Welington Castillo is the runner-up at 6.6. (Taylor Davis’ Cubs bWAR was negative.)
54: Neil Ramirez is the only Cubs player to wear this number for more than two seasons (2014-16) and he’s the champ here at 1.5 bWAR. Aroldis Chapman’s two months as a Cub is second at 0.8.
55: You might not remember this guy. I sure didn’t. Larry Casian was a LOOGY for the Cubs in an era (1995-97) when those guys were in vogue. He made 89 appearances for the Cubs and threw 57 total innings, facing a total of 246 hitters, an average of 2.8 per outing, which wouldn’t cut it under MLB’s new three-batter minimum. That was good for 1.4 bWAR, best among No. 55s.
56: You might have thought this one would go to Hector Rondon, who was pretty good for the Cubs from 2013-17, but he posted only 4.0 bWAR in those five seasons. The top bWAR for any Cubs No. 56 belongs to outfielder Brian McRae (1995-97), 7.0.
57: The charmingly-named Vito Valentinetti, a righthanded reliever for the Cubs in 1957 and 1958, posted 1.1 bWAR, the only No. 57 over 1.0. You might remember Antonio Alfonseca, a Cub in 2002 and 2003. He posted just 0.4 bWAR in those two seasons.
58: Just five Cubs players ever have worn No. 58. Geovany Soto, better known wearing No. 18, had three September callups wearing 58, and posted 0.9 bWAR, best among the five. Soto ranked third among the No. 18s.
59: Ismael Valdez, who spent half an unhappy season on the North Side, posted 0.7 bWAR as a Cub. He’s the only one of the five Cubs who wore this number to have a WAR figure above zero. Zac Rosscup’s four years as a Cub wearing No. 59 produced negative bWAR (-0.4).