Chicago Cubs Top Ten: Slammin’ Sammy and El Mago

The Cubs made history on April 15, 1942, with the debut of Hiram Bithorn as the first Puerto Rican in the Major Leagues. That season the Cubs also had a Cuban catcher Sal “Chico” Hernández and a Mexican American pitcher Jesse Flores.

Setting such a mark would lead one to expect a long history of Latino players making a significant impact on the Cubs franchise. However, it wasn’t until a crosstown trade with the White Sox that netted a young Sammy Sosa that the Cubs had a bona fide Latino star on the Northside. Sosa was a game changer who brought Latinos flocking to Wrigley like perhaps never before.

He was soon joined by the likes of Aramis Ramírez and Carlos Zambrano as the Latino trio sought to bring a long-awaited World Series title to the Cubs. Where they failed another group of Latinos succeeded, with Javy Báez, Willson Contreras, and Miguel Montero contributed to bring the Northsiders their first World Series title in over a century in 2016.

So which of these Latinos made a big enough impact on the Cubs to land on their Latino Top 10? How many did so with their bats versus from the pitcher’s mound? To build our list of the Latino Top 10 we kept it simple. We created the rankings based on WAR as calculated by

Let’s take a look to see who made the Cubs Top 10 and where they all ranked. Surprised by the final rankings? Anyone you feel is missing or should have ranked higher? Let us know by adding your comments below.

Chicago Cubs Top Ten

1. Sammy Sosa

13 years with the Cubs, 58.8 WAR, seven-time All-Star, 1998 NL MVP, six Silver Sluggers
Dominican Republic

In 1987, George Bell became the first player born in the Dominican Republic to win an MVP award. Bell made a significant career choice after the 1990 season and left Toronto, signing with the Chicago Cubs. After one season, in which he was an All-Star, the Cubs traded Bell across town to the White Sox for Ken Patterson and a skinny young outfielder named Sosa. In 1993 and 1995 Sosa hit 30 home runs and stole 30 bases, but he emerged as one of the all-time great power hitters in 1998. In 1,811 games with the Cubs, Sosa hit 545 home runs and drove in 1,414 runs while scoring 1,245 times with a .928 OPS.

2. Carlos Zambrano

11 years with the Cubs, 37.7 WAR, three-time All-Star, three Silver Sluggers

“Big Z” jumped to the big leagues with the Cubs as a 20-year-old in 2001 and joined the rotation the following year. He won a career-high 18 games in 2007, not one of the three seasons in which he was an All-Star. Zambrano struck out 1,542 in 1,826.2 innings for the Cubs, winning 125 times. He was also a tremendous hitter; Zambrano hit 23 home runs in 708 plate appearances for the Cubs.

3. Aramis Ramírez

Nine years with the Cubs, 24.1 WAR, two-time All-Star, one Silver Slugger
Dominican Republic

The Cubs acquired Ramírez in one of the better trades in franchise history. Chicago somehow talked Pittsburgh into dealing Ramírez and Kenny Lofton for a package of José Hernández and prospects Bobby Hill and Matt Bruback before the deadline in 2003. While the Cubs infamously came up short that October, Ramírez went on to have a stellar career at third base in Chicago. He drove in more than 100 runs in four seasons in Chicago, finishing with 239 homers and 806 RBI in 1,124 games for the Cubs.

4. Javy Báez

Five years with the Cubs, 11.8 WAR, one All-Star Game, 2016 NLCS co-MVP
Puerto Rico

“El Mago” was a bit of an urban legend in Chicago; the kid the Cubs drafted ninth overall in 2011 who had a tattoo of the MLB logo on the back of his neck. He hit a home run in his major league debut as a 21-year-old in 2014 but didn’t secure his spot in the lineup until the 2016 postseason, when he shared NLCS MVP honors with Jon Lester. He’s becoming one of the most exciting players in the game and set career highs in almost every offensive category in 2018.

5. Starlin Castro

Six years with the Cubs, 10.8 WAR, three-time All-Star
Dominican Republic

Castro was taken for granted during some rough rebuilding years in Chicago but he always put up numbers. He led the league with 207 hits as a 21-year-old in 2011 and had at least 30 doubles in four of his six seasons. Over 891 games with the Cubs, Castro produced 991 hits, 186 doubles, 62 home runs and scored 391 times with a .281 batting average.

6. Carlos Mármol

Eight years with the Cubs, 10.0 WAR, one All-Star Game
Dominican Republic

A converted catcher, Mármol had lights-out stuff. He led the league with 70 games finished in 2010 and saved a career-high 38 games. He appeared in 483 games for Chicago, saving 117 and striking out 703 in 542.1 innings.

7. José Cardenal

Six years with the Cubs, 9.4 WAR

Cardenal joined the Cubs as a 28-year-old in 1972 and was a solid on-base machine during his six seasons in Chicago. He set a career-high with 17 home runs in his first season with the Cubs and also stole 14 bases. In 821 games with the Cubs, the fan favorite posted a .363 OBP and scored 433 runs.

8. Geovany Soto

Eight years with the Cubs, 9.4 WAR, one All-Star Game, 2008 NL Rookie of the Year
Puerto Rico

Soto raised expectations with his spectacular rookie campaign in 2008. Selected to the All-Star Game he hit 23 home runs and had 86 RBI with a .285 average and .868 OPS—all career highs. Those numbers led to Soto earning Rookie of the Year honors. Unfortunately, his performance during the following seasons never quite matched his rookie campaign and he was traded to Texas in 2012.

9. Willson Contreras

Three years with the Cubs, 8.5 WAR, one All-Star Game

Selected to his first All-Star Game in just his third year, Contreras has impressed with his steadily improved work behind the plate along with his strong arm and powerful bat. Contreras has thrown out 36% of would be base stealers this year.

10. Iván de Jesus

Five years with the Cubs, 8.3 WAR
Puerto Rico

The trades that brought de Jesus to Chicago and ultimately ended his tenure with the Cubs were significant. The Cubs acquired de Jesus with Bill Buckner and a minor leaguer from the Dodgers for Rick Monday and Mike Garman before the 1977 season. A little more than five years later, the Cubs traded de Jesus to Philadelphia for Larry Bowa and a prospect named Ryne Sandberg. In between those two deals de Jesus would lead the league with 104 runs scored in 1978 and steal 173 bases in 738 total games with Chicago.

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