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The best former Cub from every MLB team

A fun little offseason exercise.

Andre Dawson bats at Wrigley Field as a member of the Montreal Expos
Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Credit where credit is due, I borrowed this idea from Adam Sanford of our SB Nation Tampa Bay Rays site DRays Bay. Here’s his article on the best former Ray on every MLB team, by bWAR.

So the question asked here is: Which player who at one time was a Cub put together the highest bWAR for each of the other 29 MLB teams in the Modern Era (since 1900)? Here’s the list, and remember Cubs history goes back a very long time, so some of these players played for the listed team in a previous city and some played a long time ago. The WAR figure listed is the number posted only for the listed team, not for the Cubs:

Arizona Diamondbacks: Luis Gonzalez, 30.0
Atlanta Braves: Greg Maddux, 66.2
Baltimore Orioles: Rafael Palmeiro, 24.4
Boston Red Sox: Nomar Garciaparra, 41.3
Chicago White Sox: Lance Johnson, 21.3
Cincinnati Reds: Lonny Frey, 34.5
Cleveland Guardians (Indians): Kenny Lofton, 48.6
Colorado Rockies: Carlos Gonzalez, 23.8
Detroit Tigers: Billy Rogell, 26.4
Houston Astros: Joe Niekro, 23.1
Kansas City Royals: Willie Wilson, 42.4
Los Angeles Angels: John Lackey, 24.8
Los Angeles Dodgers: Ron Cey, 47.7
Miami Marlins: Cliff Floyd, 16.9
Milwaukee Brewers: Jonathan Lucroy, 17.3
Minnesota Twins: Gary Gaetti, 27.1
New York Mets: Howard Johnson, 22.0
New York Yankees: Tony Lazzeri, 46.4
Oakland (Philadelphia) Athletics: Jimmie Foxx, 61.2
Philadelphia Phillies: Robin Roberts, 69.8
Pittsburgh Pirates: Wilbur Cooper, 48.1
San Diego Padres: Phil Nevin, 17.8
San Francisco (New York) Giants: Larry Doyle, 42.7
Seattle Mariners: Jamie Moyer, 34.2
St. Louis Cardinals: Rogers Hornsby, 91.5
Tampa Bay Rays: Ben Zobrist, 35.3
Texas Rangers: Rafael Palmeiro, 44.6
Toronto Blue Jays: George Bell, 21.2
Washington Nationals (Montreal Expos): Andre Dawson, 48.4

I was going to do what Adam Sanford did with his Rays article and try to put together a 26-man roster and starting lineup from this list, but as you can see, that’s impossible — because of the players listed above, just six are pitchers. You could make a pretty good starting rotation from those guys: Greg Maddux, Joe Niekro, Robin Roberts, Wilbur Cooper and Jamie Moyer, with John Lackey as a fill-in, sixth starter. But there aren’t any relief pitchers who had enough bWAR to make this list.

Also, one player appears on the list twice — Rafael Palmeiro, for both the Orioles and Rangers. Six of the players on this list barely played for the Cubs: Robin Roberts, 11 games (with a 6.14 ERA!) in 1966; Jimmie Foxx, 85 games for the Cubs in 1943-44 (and just three of his 534 home runs); Carlos Gonzalez, who played just 15 games for the Cubs at the end of his career in 2019; Phil Nevin, 67 games for the awful 2006 Cubs; Jonathan Lucroy, 27 games for the Cubs (with a .566 OPS!) in 2019, and Billy Rogell, 33 games for the Cubs in 1940 after a long career as the Tigers’ starting shortstop for most of the 1930s. All the others played at least one full season on the North Side. The only ones who had any sort of significant career with the Cubs: Maddux, Dawson and Hornsby. Ben Zobrist’s Cubs career was memorable, for obvious reasons, but he posted just 6.7 bWAR in four years with the Cubs.

Of the 28 different players, six are Hall of Famers: Maddux, Lazzeri, Foxx, Roberts, Hornsby and Dawson, with a couple others who might get in eventually (Moyer, for example).

This was a fun exercise and hope you enjoyed remembering some guys.