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Here are 5 Cubs single-season records that are unbreakable

No one’s ever going to have seasons like this for the Cubs going forward.

Anthony Rizzo plunked in 2019
Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

Yesterday we looked at five Cubs franchise records for an overall career with the team that I think will stand forever.

Today, I present to you five single-season records that I think will remain on the record books for all time. Again, I’ve generally limited these to post-1900 team records.

Home runs

Record holder: Sammy Sosa, 66

Why this won’t be broken: Sosa, as you know, is the only player in MLB history with three 60-homer seasons — and he didn’t lead his league in any of those three years. Sosa led the NL in homers twice: 2000, with 50, and 2002, with 49.

Sosa and Hack Wilson are the only Cubs to ever hit 50 or more in a season, and Wilson’s came in the freak 1930 season, when the entire NL hit .303. Wilson’s personal high apart from that was 39.

Only four other Cubs have ever hit more than 42 (Billy Williams’ mark in 1970, and the team record for a lefthanded hitter, and that one’s probably not going to be broken either): Derrek Lee (46 in 2005), Andre Dawson (49 in 1987), Dave Kingman (48 in 1979), and Ernie Banks, who did it four times: 44 in 1955, 43 in 1957, 47 in 1958 and 45 in 1959.

Even with the launch angle revolution and plethora of home runs recently, only Aaron Judge has broken the 60 mark since 2001.

Sosa’s single-season mark will remain the Cubs record.

Stolen bases

Record holder: Frank Chance, 67

Why this won’t be broken: Chance stole 50 or more bases twice, leading the league each time: 1903 (67) and 1906 (57). After that, no Cub stole 50 bases in a season until Ryne Sandberg had 54 in 1985. Two other Cubs have reached the 50-base mark since: Eric Young Sr., 54 in 2001, and Juan Pierre, 58 in 2006.

That’s it. In 2019 the Cubs only stole 45 bases as a team.

Now, with the bigger bases and pickoff rules, stolen bases could increase in 2023. But no one has stolen more than 67 bases in a season at all since Pierre had 68 for the White Sox in 2010 and only four other players have stolen that many since 1999.

That Cubs record, which has stood for 119 years, isn’t going anywhere.

Hit by pitch

Record holder: Anthony Rizzo, 30

Why this won’t be broken: When Rizzo was hit 30 times by a pitch in 2015, that broke a post-1900 franchise record that had stood for 110 years. Frank Chance was the previous record holder with 17. Chance’s mark had been tied by Marlon Byrd in 2010.

Since Rizzo had his 30-HBP season, several Cubs have eclipsed Chance’s former record: Rizzo in 2017 (24), 2018 (20) and 2019 (27), Kris Bryant in 2016 (18) and Willson Contreras in 2022 (24).

Keep in mind that Rizzo’s 30 in 2015 ranks ninth all-time among post-1900 players, and among modern players, only Mark Canha (27 in 2021 and 28 in 2022) has come close.

You pretty much have to want to be hit that many times, to increase your chances of getting on base, to do that. Rizzo did. Most players don’t. Since it had been 100+ years since any Cub had even come close to that, I’m thinking Rizzo’s mark sticks around.

Saves

Record holder: Randy Myers, 53

Why this won’t be broken: Pitchers just don’t seem to get enough save opportunities in general to save 50+ games anymore. Myers and Rod Beck (51 in 1998) are the only Cubs to surpass that mark — in fact, they’re the only Cubs with more than 40, because tied for third on the list are Myers (1995) and Carlos Marmol (2010) with 38.

Since Beck’s 51-save season in 1998, just 12 pitchers have turned in a 50-save season, and several of them were one-off guys who you’d never think of as being a great closer: Jeurys Familia (Mets, 2016), Mark Melancon (Pirates, 2015) and Jim Johnson (Orioles, twice, 2012 and 2013).

Myers’ 53-save season marks its 30th anniversary in 2023. It will mark many more.

Games pitched

Record: 84. Record holders: Ted Abernathy (1965), Dick Tidrow (1980), Bob Howry (2006)

Why this won’t be broken: With larger bullpens and teams managing appearances through judicious use of options to bring more pitchers from the minor leagues (even though options are now limited to five per season), it doesn’t seem as if anyone’s going to break this three-pronged record.

Since 2000, a few have come close to the team record: Jeff Fassero (82 in 2001), Carlos Marmol (82 in 2008), Sean Marshall (80 in 2010), Shawn Camp (80 in 2012) and Steve Cishek (80 in 2018). The team record that Abernathy broke in 1965 (75 appearances) had been set in 1892 (!) by Bill Hutchison, a year before the pitching distance was set at 60 feet, six inches. The post-1900 Cubs record broken by Abernathy was 69, set by Don Elston in 1958.

Every year in MLB, a couple of pitchers reach the 80 games pitched mark, but the last pitcher to make more than 84 appearances in a year was Jonny Venters, who threw in 85 games for the 2011 Braves — and then went through three Tommy John surgeries and was never again as effective.

Which is why that one’s going to stand forever.

Poll

Which of these five Cubs single-season records is the most unbreakable?

This poll is closed

  • 36%
    Home runs (66, Sammy Sosa in 1998)
    (420 votes)
  • 21%
    Stolen bases (67, Frank Chance in 1903)
    (246 votes)
  • 10%
    Hit by pitch (30, Anthony Rizzo in 2015)
    (121 votes)
  • 7%
    Saves (53, Randy Myers in 1993)
    (89 votes)
  • 23%
    Games pitched (84, Ted Abernathy in 1965, Dick Tidrow in 1980, Bob Howry in 2006)
    (274 votes)
1150 votes total Vote Now