I am a former sports editor and currently serve as a historian with the Society of American Baseball Research and manage a valet operation.
Who Are the Best Home Run Hitters in Chicago Cubs History?
The Chicago Cubs are best known for being the team with the longest drought between World Series championships. From curses about billy goats, black cats, and a random fan named Steve Bartman, things never seemed to go the way of the Cubs when it came to the postseason. That was until 2016, when the franchise won its first World Series championship since 1908 by beating the Cleveland Indians in a thrilling seven-game series.
Despite so much losing over the years, some of the best power hitters in baseball called the friendly confines of Wrigley Field home (the Cubs are one of just six teams in MLB history to have four players with 300 or more home runs). In this article, I will explore the top power hitters in the history of the Chicago Cubs. These rankings are not based upon opinions, and for a player to be considered, he must have hit at least 100 home runs during his time with the Cubs. Players were then ranked by averaging their rank for both of these criterion:
- Total home runs with the Cubs
- Plate appearances per home run with the Cubs
Following the top five are the best of the rest, a handful of shorter lists of franchise leaders in more defined categories, and franchise home run records. Information from Stathead on Baseball Reference was used to compile statistics.
Note: Ranks in parenthesis in individual player capsules represent their ranking among players who hit at least 100 home runs with the Cubs. ... Statistics are current through the end of the 2021 season.
5. Hack Wilson
- Years Played: 1926-31
- Home Runs: 190 (11th)
- Plate Appearances/Home Run: 19.58 (4th)
- Single-Season High: 56 in 1930
Hack Wilson is remembered most for his 191 RBI season from 1930, but what is often overlooked is that to help get there, he also hit 56 home runs. Those 56 longballs stood as a team record until Sammy Sosa broke the mark in 1998. His 1930 season marked the fourth time in five seasons that Wilson led the National League in homers, and it was his third straight campaign with at least 30. At the time, power hitters of Wilson's stature simply weren't found often, so while he is broadly remembered for one season with the Cubs, his six seasons of power will forever be etched into team history.
4. Hank Sauer
- Years Played: 1949–55
- Home Runs: 198 (10th)
- Plate Appearances/Home Run: 18.03 (3rd)
- Single-Season High: 41 in 1954
Hank Sauer came into his own once he came to the Cubs in a June trade in 1949. The "Mayor of Wrigley Field" hit 27 home runs in 96 games with Chicago, and he made his first All-Star team the following year. In 1952, he tied for the National League lead with 37 homers, marking the sixth straight season he hit 30 or more—including two years with the Cincinnati Reds. Sauer also won MVP honors that season and made his second All-Star team (he hit a decisive home run in the rain-shortened National League victory). In 1954, Sauer had one last hurrah with the Cubs, belting a career-high 41 home runs.
3. Aramis Ramirez
- Years Played: 2003–11
- Home Runs: 239 (7th)
- Plate Appearances/Home Run: 19.69 (5th)
- Single-Season High: 38 in 2006
Aramis Ramirez was quietly one of the top power hitters of the 2000s and early 2010s, and he did most of his damage during a nine-year stint with the Cubs. He quickly became a fan favorite by smashing a grand slam during Chicago's 2003 playoff run, and the following season, he lifted three home runs in a single game twice and started a three-year stretch of seasons with at least 30 home runs. He made his first of two All-Star teams with the Cubs in 2005, and after another superb season saw him hit a career-high 38 homers in 2006, he signed a five-year contract to remain in Chicago. His production tailed off a bit, but by the end of his tenure, he ended up hitting 62% of his 386 career home runs in a Cubs uniform.
2. Ernie Banks
- Years Played: 1953–71
- Home Runs: 512 (2nd)
- Plate Appearances/Home Run: 20.30 (7th)
- Single-Season High: 47 in 1958
The first true slugger from the shortstop position was Ernie Banks, and "Mr. Cub" became much more during his 19-year career, which was spent entirely with Chicago. Banks hit 40 or more home runs in five seasons between 1955 and '60. That production helped him win back-to-back MVPs in 1958 and '59, and he ended up making 14 All-Star appearances throughout his career. Banks became the ninth player in history with 500 career homers when he sent an inside fastball into the left-field bleachers at Wrigley Field on May 12, 1970, and his career total of 512 stood as the franchise record until late in the 2004 season.
1. Sammy Sosa
- Years Played: 1992–2004
- Home Runs: 545 (1st)
- Plate Appearances/Home Run: 14.49 (1st)
- Single-Season High: 66 in 1998
Sammy Sosa was a participant in one of the greatest summers in Major League history. The Home Run Chase between he and Mark McGuire in 1998 enthralled the nation and helped pull baseball from the muck after an ugly players' strike in 1994 damaged the game's reputation. Allegations of steroid use have erased some of the charm from that season, but Sosa's 66 homers still stand as the single-season record for the Cubs, and he is the only player ever to hit 60 or more home runs in three different seasons. In total, Sosa had a franchise-record 545 home runs over 13 seasons with the Cubs, and the seven-time All-Star had more than 30 longballs in all but two of his seasons with the Cubs. He was the 1998 MVP, won six Silver Sluggers, and led the National League in home runs twice (oddly, with 50 in 2000 and 49 in 2002, and not during any of the seasons in which he hit 60+).
The Best of the Rest
The following four players are home run hitters from Chicago Cubs history who just missed the top five.
- Years Played: 1959–74
- Home Runs: 392 (3rd)
- Plate Appearances/Home Run: 24.24 (13th)
- Single-Season High: 42 in 1970
Billy Williams spent all but the final two seasons of career in Chicago and was a force in the middle of the lineup for 16 seasons. Williams was the 1961 Rookie of the Year, a seven-time All-Star and had 20 or more home runs in 13 straight seasons.
- Years Played: 2012–21
- Home Runs: 242 (6th)
- Plate Appearances/Home Run: 23.30 (12th)
- Single-Season High: 32 in 2014, '16 and '17
Anthony Rizzo was instrumental in helping the Cubs to the 2016 World Series championship (their first since 1908) with his third of four straight 30+ home run seasons. He was a three-time All-Star in Chicago and twice finished inside the top five in MVP voting.
- Years Played: 1960–73
- Home Runs: 337 (4th)
- Plate Appearances/Home Run: 26.64 (15th)
- Single-Season High: 33 in 1965
Ron Santo spent the first 14 years of his career as one of the most popular Cubs players of all-time. Santo had 25 or more home runs in eight straight years during the peak of his career and made nine All-Star teams.
Chicago Cubs Home Run Records
Below are some of the franchise home run records for the Chicago Cubs.
Chicago Cubs Career Home Run Leaders
- 1. Sammy Sosa, 545
- 2. Ernie Banks, 512
- 3. Billy Williams, 392
- 4. Ron Santo, 337
- 5. Ryne Sandberg, 282
Chicago Cubs Plate Appearance/Home Run Leaders (min. 100 HRs)
- Sammy Sosa, 14.49
- Kyle Schwarber, 17.42
- Hank Sauer, 18.03
- Hack Wilson, 19.58
- Aramis Ramirez, 19.69
Chicago Cubs Single-Season Home Run Leaders
- 1. Sammy Sosa, 66 (1998)
- 2. Sosa, 64 (2001)
- 3. Sosa, 63 (1999)
- 4. Hack Wilson, 56 (1930)
- 5. Sosa, 50 (2000)
Chicago Cubs Single-Game Home Run Leaders
- 26 players tied with 3 (Sammy Sosa did it 6 times)
© 2021 Andrew Harner