Today is the 12 year anniversary of the largest free agency signing in Chicago Cubs history — Alfonso Soriano. However, as a third generation fan, living and dying with the Chicago Cubs in the 2000s, I’ve wondered what they would look like with Slammin’ Sammy Sosa in the middle of their lineup.
We all like to consider different scenarios, so, with that said, imagine the Chicago Cubs current core with one former player. Older generations might consider Ernie Banks, Billy Williams or Ron Santo. Some may consider Ryne Sandberg or Andre Dawson. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see the primes of those respective careers.
One could argue, on the other hand, Sosa saved the game of baseball in the late 90s given the strike of 1994. I gained a love for baseball growing up during the Sammy Sosa-Mark McGwire home run race in 1998.
That season was filled with so many memories. Kerry Wood pitched what many say the greatest game ever, throwing a one-hit shutout while piling up 20 strikeouts on a very cold day at Wrigley Field. On his way to NL MVP honors, Sosa mashed 66 home runs in the race with McGwire, who went on to hit 70. Before that season, Roger Maris’ record of 61 home runs had been held since 1961.
Sosa finished the ’98 season batting .308, driving in 158 runs. On top of those impressive numbers, Sosa compiled a 1.024 OPS, .647 slugging percentage and scored 134 runs on his way to 98 percent of the first-place MVP votes.
That was just one season. Sosa finished the next five seasons with an OPS over .900, including three-straight 1.000 OPS seasons and three more 60 or more home run seasons. Imagine that bat in-between Kris Bryant, Javier Baez and Anthony Rizzo on a day-to-day basis.
We know Sosa was in the steroid conversation given the era he played in, but you can’t take away the numbers he displayed on a consistent basis. I believe in due time his time will come in the Hall of Fame voting. In 2017, Jeff Bagwell and Ivan Rodriguez were inducted into the hall and they both have a history of steroid use.
The negative attention brought toward the end of his Cubs tenure and alleged steroid use which is the main factor to why the organization has not welcomed him back since his retirement from baseball might be the only downfall of that hypothetical team. Solely based on a numbers standpoint, however, Sosa could put the Cubs over the top offensively.
Who knows, maybe one day we’ll see Slammin’ Sammy sprinting out to right field with the American flag in some sort of a reunion, but for now, that seems unlikely any time soon.