Chicago Cubs Franchise Timeline
What a decade for Cubs baseball, which is exactly what it was. In 1902, noting the youth movement lead by new manager Frank Selee, a local newspaper penned the nickname Cubs for the first time. The moniker prevailed over time and was officially adopted by the club in 1907. It is currently one of the longest running-and most beloved-alias' in all of sports. The team, after moving around to different parks during the previous century, found a home at the West Side Grounds, their home from 1893-1915.
The organization enjoyed the most successful decade in its history, posting in 1906 all-time major league records for wins in a season (116) and winning percentage (.763) en route to their first pennant of the 20th century. The only all-Chicago World Series was played; the White Sox winning four games to two. Spurned on by this loss, the team, in 1907, wins its second consecutive National League pennant -- by 17 games -- under player-manager Frank Chance.
The Cubs won their first World Series, defeating the Detroit Tigers and Ty Cobb, four games to two. They followed this up the next year by winning their second consecutive World Championship, repeating their World Series victory over Detroit, this time four games to one. In 1908 pitcher Mordecai "Three-Finger" Brown wins 29 games, setting a team record (since 1900) that stands today. He finished the decade with 135 victories, 716 strikeouts and a 1.51 ERA. The double-play combination of Joe Tinker, Johnny Evers and Frank Chance is on its way to baseball immortality, inspiring a "sad lexicon" written by Franklin Pierce, a writer with the New York Times:
"These are the saddest of possible words ... Tinker to Evers to Chance ... A trio of bear Cubs and fleeter than birds ... Tinker to Evers to Chance ... Ruthlessly pricking our gonfalon bubble ... Making a Giant hit into a double ... Words that are weighty with nothing but trouble ... Tinker to Evers to Chance."
March 27, 1902: Chicago Daily News becomes first-known entity to pen "Cubs" nickname as team moniker.
September 15, 1902: Tinker-to-Evers-to-Chance trio records first double play in 6-3 win vs. Reds.
July 1, 1905: Cubs win 13-5 vs. Reds in Frank Chance's first official game as manager.
June 2, 1906: Cubs acquire Cincinnati's Orval Overall, who goes 12-3 down stretch to lead Cubs to NL pennant.
October 12, 1907: Cubs claim first World Series title, beating Tigers 2-0 behind pitching of Mordecai Brown.
September 26, 1908: Ed Reulbach becomes only pitcher to toss two complete-game shutouts on same day, vs. Dodgers. A few weeks later, on October 14, the Cubs become the first team to win back-to-back World Series when they defeat Detroit, four games to one.
October 14, 1908: Cubs become first team to win back-to-back World Series, beating Detroit.
The team began this decade much like they concluded the previous one - by winning. The Cubs win their fourth National League pennant in five seasons. Despite wining 104 games and capturing the flag by 13 games, they lose the 1910 World Series to the Philadelphia A's, four games to one. During this time period the team would finish in the top three in six of the years and appeared in two World Series - in 1910 and 1918 - losing both times. In 1916, after the rival Federal League had folded, the former owner from the upstart league, Charles Weeghman, purchased the Cubs and immediately moved them into the park that he had built in 1914 for his now defunct organization. The edifice at the corner of Clark and Addison St. was then known as Weeghman Park houses the current team under the name Wrigley Field. It is the second oldest ballpark in the major leagues, behind Boston's Fenway Park. On a sad note, Albert Goodwill Spalding, who had been so instrumental in getting the Chicago National League Ball Club, and baseball in general off the ground, died on Sept. 9, 1915.
June 11, 1911: Heinie Zimmerman tallies Cubs-record nine RBIs in 20-2 win vs. Braves.
December 31, 1913: Charles Weeghman signs deal to lease property for ballpark at Clark and Addison streets.
June 17, 1915: Zip Zabel pitches 18.1 relief innings in 19-inning 4-3 win vs. Brooklyn.
October 3, 1915: Cubs play their last game at West Side Grounds, beating St. Louis 7-2.
January 20, 1916: Charles Weeghman and nine investors purchase Cubs from Charles Taft. Three months later, on April 20, the Cubs beat the Reds, 7-6, in the first NL game at Weeghman Park, which was renamed Cubs Park in 1920 and eventually Wrigley Field in 1926.
May 2, 1917: Cubs' Hippo Vaughn combines with Fred Toney for baseball's only nine-inning double no-hit game, eventually won by Reds 1-0 in 10th inning.
September 11, 1918: The Cubs lose the World Series to the Boston Red Sox four games to two behind pitching sensation Babe Ruth.
In 1920, Weeghman Park becomes known as Cubs Park, after chewing gum magnet William Wrigley buys out the remainder of Charles Weeghman's share of the club. The park would undergo yet another name change in 1926 when it becomes Wrigley Field. That same year, plans are revealed to add a second tier to The Friendly Confines, which increases capacity to 40,000. In 1929, under Hall-of-Fame manager Joe McCarthy, the Cubs win the National League pennant by more than 10 games. Nearly 1.5 million people pack Wrigley Field to marvel at the hitting exploits of future Hall of Famers Rogers Hornsby (the year's NL MVP), Hack Wilson, Gabby Hartnett and Kiki Cuyler. Despite all of the firepower, the Cubs lose the World Series to the Philadelphia A's, four games to one. During the decade, Wilson and Grover Alexander lead the team at the plate and on the mound. Wilson finished the period with 121 home runs and 517 RBIs while the right-hander Alexander lead with 110 Ws and a 3.02 ERA.
August 25, 1922: Cubs beat Phillies 26-23 in highest-scoring game in major-league history.
April 14, 1925: With Quin Ryan at the mike, WGN Radio broadcasts its first regular-season Cubs game, as Chicago defeats Pittsburgh by an 8-2 margin in Charlie Grimm's Cubs debut.
November 16, 1926: Plans announced to double-deck Wrigley Field, increasing seating to 40,000.
October 8, 1929: Cubs fall 3-1 to Philadelphia in first World Series game at Wrigley Field.
In 1930, outfielder Hack Wilson puts together one of the greatest hitting seasons in baseball history, pounding 56 homers and driving in 191 runs-a mark has never been bettered in Major League Baseball. On June 27, the largest crowd ever to see a game at Wrigley Field - 51,556 - is on hand as the Cubs play the Brooklyn Dodgers. But paid attendance is only 19,748, due to the Ladies Day promotion.
In 1932, Manager Charlie Grimm leads the Cubs to the National League pennant, the team's second in four years. Cub pitcher Lon Warneke posts a 22-6 record. The Cubs face the vaunted New York Yankees in the World Series - a series marked by Babe Ruth's mythical "called shot" during the 5th inning of Game 3 at Wrigley Field. The Yankees sweep the Cubs, four games to none.
This same year, former owner Charles Weeghman and owner William Wrigley pass away, leaving the organization to Wrigley's son, Philip Knight. P.K. then began remodeling the park to fit his vision of a backyard family playground. He hired Bill Veeck, who, in 1937, plants the now-famous ivy on the outfield wall.
That same year, the bleachers are constructed and a new scoreboard is installed, both of which have remained virtually untouched over the years. In 1938, one of the most dramatic moments in team history occurs when catcher Gabby Hartnett hits the legendary "Homer in the Gloamin'" at Wrigley Field. Hartnett's round-tripper off Pittsburgh's Mace Brown gives the Cubs their third NL pennant of the decade. Hartnett replaces Charlie Grimm as manager during the season, and lead the Cubs to the 1938 World Series against the New York Yankees, where the Cubs are swept four games to none. For the decade, Hartnett slugged 777 RBI, Riggs Stephenson hit .329 and Lon Warneke posted a 2.85 ERA.
September 28, 1930: Hack Wilson records RBIs Nos. 190 and 191-a major-league mark that still stands-in Cubs' 13-11 win vs. Reds.
June 30, 1932: Cubs become last to add numbers to their uniforms.
October 1, 1932: Yankee Babe Ruth hits alleged "called shot" off Charlie Root in Game 3 of World Series.
September 27, 1935: Cubs sweep doubleheader from St. Louis to win 21st consecutive game.
June 25, 1937: Augie Galan becomes first Cub to homer from both sides of plate in same game in 11-2 win vs. Dodgers.
July 9, 1937 Construction begins on Wrigley Field bleachers and centerfield scoreboard.
September 28, 1938: Gabby Hartnett's "Homer in the Gloamin'" gives Cubs 6-5 win vs. Pittsburgh en route to pennant.
Instead of becoming one of the first teams to install lights, the Cubs went on to become one of the last when, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, P.K. Wrigley donates the lighting equipment that he had recently purchased to the War Department in 1941. The team's final World Series appearance of the 20th century occurred in 1945, the last World War II-affected season. The team lost the Fall Classic to Detroit in heartbreaking fashion, four games to three. In 1947, Jackie Robinson made his major-league debut. When the Dodgers came to town in the middle of May, with Robinson at first base, the stands were packed with the largest single-game attendance at Wrigley Field ever-46,572.
April 26, 1941: Cubs become first team to play organ music in ballpark.
December 8, 1941: Cubs donate their recently purchased lighting materials to War Department in wake of Pearl Harbor bombing.
October 8, 1945: Stan Hack reaches safely in six of seven plate appearances and drives in winning run in 12th inning as Cubs beat Tigers 8-7 to force World Series Game 7, which the team loses two days later, 9-3.
May 18, 1947: Jackie Robinson makes his Chicago debut before largest single-game paid attendance in Wrigley Field history (46,572), but Dodgers beat Cubs 4-2.
April 16, 1948: WGN-TV broadcasts its first big-league game, with Jack Brickhouse calling White Sox's 4-1 win vs. Cubs at Wrigley Field.
With the country in the middle of the Cold War, the Cubs as a team are in the middle of a frigid decade. After experiencing success for the majority of their existence, the Cubs finish the 50s without a postseason appearance, the first decade of a drought that would last until 1984. Individual team members found success of their own. In 1952, outfielder Hank Sauer wins the NL Most Valuable Player award after he hit a major league leading 37 home runs and 121 RBI. In 1955, Sam Jones becomes the first Cubs pitcher to throw a no-hitter in nearly 40 seasons, blanking Pittsburgh 4-0 on May 12 at Wrigley Field. And in 1959 Ernie Banks becomes the first National Leaguer to win the MVP trophy in back-to-back seasons. The previous year he hit .313, 47 homers and 129 RBI, while '59 saw him go .304 with 45 home runs and a major-league leading 143 RBI.
April 17, 1951: Prior to Cubs' home-opening 8-3 win vs. Cincinnati, Sam Snead becomes the first swinger ever to hit the centerfield scoreboard-albeit with a golf ball.
April 20, 1952: NL office orders centerfield hitter's background at Wrigley Field off-limits to fans, and it remains so with exception of 1962 All-Star Game.
September 20, 1953: Ernie Banks slugs first career home run in 11-6 loss to St. Louis.
May 12, 1955: Sam Jones closes out 4-0 no-hitter by walking bases loaded before fanning final three Pirates batters.
May 26, 1957: Rookie Dick Drott strikes out 15 Braves-including famed slugger Hank Aaron three times-in 7-5 win.
August 20, 1958: Cubs run out of catchers in eventual 4-2 loss to Pirates, and first baseman Dale Long becomes major's first left-handed receiver since 1905.
June 30, 1959: Infamous "two balls in play" game: Cardinal Stan Musial draws walk on wild pitch and attempts to advance an extra base as Cubs third baseman Alvin Dark (original ball) and pitcher Bob Anderson (umpire-issued new ball) both fire balls toward second base in St. Louis' eventual 4-1 win.
Sport imitated life in the 60s. A period mostly remembered for rebelling against the norm and untimely deaths of promising young leaders could describe the nation's or the organization's history during this time. In 1960 owner P.K. Wrigley experimented with manager position, implementing a "College of Coaches." The system was meant to be a blending of ideas from several individuals instead of the traditional one skipper ended without success five years later when Leo "The Lip" Durocher took the helm. 1961 brought more individual success as future Hall-of-Famer Billy Williams is voted the National League Rookie of the Year. The next year the name of his teammate Ken Hubbs was engraved on the trophy. The promising young second baseman played a record 78 games without an error during his freshman campaign and was the first rookie to win a Gold Glove Award. His life was cut short two years later when the plane that he was piloting crashed into an icy Utah lake. 1969 began the disdain that most Cubs fans feel for the Mets. The Wrigley faithful shatter The Friendly Confines attendance records, as Ron Santo, Billy Williams and Fergie Jenkins lead the Cubs to one of their most memorable seasons. A tremendous late-season pennant drive by the Mets left the Cubs in second place, despite a 92-win season. For the decade, Fergie Jenkins leads the squad on the mound with 917 Ks and a 2.95 ERA while Ron Santo drove in 937 runs and Ernie Banks hit 269 homers.
May 15, 1960: Don Cardwell no-hits Cardinals in his Cubs debut, with Moose Moryn's shoestring catch preserving 4-0 win.
December 21, 1960: P.K. Wrigley announces that Cubs will not have a manager, opting instead for "College of Coaches."
September 30, 1962: Cubs hand Mets their major-league record 120th loss in 5-1 contest that includes Ken Hubbs (second base)- to-Ernie Banks (first base)-to-Andre Rodgers (shortstop) triple play.
September 9, 1965: Pitcher Bob Hendley tosses one-hitter but is hard-luck loser by 1-0 score to Dodgers and Sandy Koufax, who throws a perfect game.
October 25, 1965: Leo Durocher is named Cubs manager, officially ending five-year "College of Coaches" run.
April 23, 1966: Fergie Jenkins homers and picks up first win as Cub in 2-0 victory vs. Dodgers.
June 29, 1969: Cubs sweep two from Cardinals on "Billy Williams Day" at Wrigley Field, as Chicago outfielder sets NL record for most consecutive games played.
August 19, 1969 Ken Holtzman tosses first of two no-hitters, blanking Braves 3-0.
During the 1970s, the Cubs saw many of their greats ride off into the sunset. Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks retires from the game in 1971 with 512 home runs. Three years later he and his familiar greeting of, "Let's play two!" are inducted into the Hall of Fame. Billy Williams, who in 1971 becomes the first player in NL history to play in 1,000 consecutive games, is traded to Oakland on October 23, 1974. Ron Santo, who personified the hot corner for the second half of the century-even long after he retired from the game-is traded to the White Sox in 1973. Fireballer Fergie Jenkins is shuttled off to the Texas Rangers. In return the Cubs received two infielders, one of which was Bill Madlock. Names synonymous with Cubs baseball-Charlie Root, Gabby Hartnett, Stan Hack and owner Philip Knight Wrigley all passed away in this decade, with the reins of the team being passed to Wrigley's only son, William.
July 6, 1970: Ron Santo tallies 10 RBIs as Cubs take two from Expos.
August 24, 1971: Ernie Banks hits his 512th and final career home run in Cubs' 5-4 loss vs. Cincinnati.
April 16, 1972: Burt Hooton no-hits Phillies 4-0 in just fourth major-league start.
September 2, 1972: Milt Pappas no-hits Padres 8-0, having come within one strike of perfect game (two-out ninth-inning walk).
August 21, 1975: Rick and Paul Reuschel become first brothers to combine on shutout in Cubs' 7-0 win vs. Dodgers.
April 25, 1976: Outfielder Rick Monday rescues an American flag from two protesters attempting to burn nation's symbol in centerfield at Dodger Stadium.
October 3, 1976: Bill Madlock goes 4-for-4 against Expos on final day of season to clinch NL batting title with .339 mark.
May 17, 1979: Philadelphia beats Cubs 23-22 in 10 innings.
Ch-ch-changes are in store for the Cubs in the 1980s in regards to ownership, postseason play and the park. In 1981 the Wrigley family ends their 65-year ownership of the team when William Wrigley sells the team to the Tribune Company for $20.5 million.
In 1982, Fergie Jenkins -- having been picked up as a free agent the previous November -- becomes the seventh player in baseball history to hurl a record 3,000 strikeouts. That season Ernie Banks becomes the first Cub to have his number retire. The fabled No. 14 now flies from the left-field foul pole at Wrigley Field while Billy Williams' No. 26-retired in 1987-flies from the right-field pole.
In 1984, the organization wins their first NL Eastern Division championship, and return to post-season play for the first time since 1945. Under manager Jim Frey, the Cubs post a 96 and 65 record, breaking the 2 million-attendance mark. Second baseman Ryne Sandberg wins the NL Most Valuable Player award. Acquired in mid-June, pitcher Rick Sutcliffe went 16-1 with the Cubs to win the NL Cy Young award. After winning the first two games at Wrigley Field, the Cubs lost the N. L. championship series to the San Diego Padres, three games to two. In 1987, outfielder Andre Dawson wins the NL Most Valuable Player award after hitting 49 home runs and driving in 143 runs.
On August 8, 1988, in a contest against the Phillies, the Cubs play their first night game in Wrigley Field history on August 8. The night debut was rained out after 3 1/2 innings, and the first official night game occurred the next night, when the Cubs defeated the New York Mets, 6-4. After the season, the North Siders announce plans for $14 million renovation of park, including construction of 67 mezzanine suites and a new press box.
The team wins their second NL Eastern Division championship in 1989. Led by manager Don Zimmer, the Cubs enjoyed All-Star seasons from Sandberg, Dawson, Sutcliffe along with relief pitcher Mitch Williams, and Rookie-of-the-Year performance by outfielder Jerome Walton. The San Francisco Giants defeated the Cubs in the 1989 NLCS, four games to one.
December 9, 1980: Cubs trade Bruce Sutter to St. Louis for Leon Durham.
June 16, 1981: William Wrigley announces sale of club to Tribune Company for $20.5 million.
April 5, 1982: Third baseman Ryne Sandberg makes his Cubs debut Opening Day in 3-2 win in Cincinnati.
May 25, 1982: Fergie Jenkins becomes seventh pitcher to eclipse 3,000 strikeouts, in 2-1 loss to Padres.
June 23, 1984: Ryne Sandberg goes 5-for-6 and hits two late-inning game-tying home runs off St. Louis' Bruce Sutter in Cubs' 11-inning 12-11 win.
September 24, 1984: Cubs clinch NL East title with 4-1 win in Pittsburgh. Eight days later on October 2, the Cubs crush the Padres 13-0 in the North Sider's first postseason game since 1945.
November 19, 1987: Andre Dawson named NL MVP.
February 25, 1988: Chicago City Council passes ordinance permitting limited night baseball at Wrigley Field. On August 8, 1988 (8/8/88) the first night game in Wrigley Field history is rained out after three-and-a-half innings, with the Cubs leading the Phillies 3-1.
October 25, 1988: Cubs announce plans for $14 million renovation of park, including construction of 67 mezzanine suites and a new press box.
September 26, 1989: Cubs clinch NL East title with 3-2 win in Montreal.
Home runs, strikeouts and the passing of two legendary voices of the Cubs are the items of note from this decade. In 1990, Ryne Sandberg leads the NL with 40 home runs, the third-highest total ever for a second baseman. Sandberg also established a major-league record by playing errorless ball for 123 straight games. Cub pitcher Greg Maddux wins the NL Cy Young award in 1992, after posting a 20-and-11 record.
The next season, Randy Myers sets an NL record with 53 saves. Setting the stage for greater things to come, in 1993 Sammy Sosa becomes the first player in Cubs history to post a "30/30" season, finishing the year with 33 homers and 36 steals. He duplicates the milestone the next full season and along the way, hits the organization's 10,000th home run. Also in 1995, the club wins the 9,000th game in franchise history. The Cubs have won more games than any other one-city professional sports franchise.
1997 brings the end of an era when Sandberg announces his retirement, effective at the end of the season. His 277 home runs hit by a second basemen is a major-league record. 1998 saw a return to the postseason. In the first-ever tiebreaker for a wild-card spot, Steve Trachsel takes a no-hitter into the seventh inning and leads the Cubs to a 5-3 victory over the San Francisco Giants. Sosa slugs 66 home runs and captured the NL MVP, as he battles St. Louis Cardinals' slugger Mark McGwire in a home run race that captivated the nation. Sosa becomes only the fourth player ever to hit more than 60 home runs in a year, as his 66 were the second most in major-league history to McGwire's 70. Kerry Wood, in just his fifth major-league start, strikes out 20 Astros in the complete-game victory, tying a major-league record for most strikeouts in a game. Wood became just the fourth Cubs player--and the club's first pitcher - to earn Rookie of the Year honors. Wood goes 13-6 with 233 strikeouts and a 3.40 ERA for the Cubs in his first 26 major-league starts.
While the team could not repeat the previous season's glory, Sosa, in 1999, becomes the first player in major-league history to reach the 60-homer mark twice. Mark Grace becomes the first Cubs during the 1900s to lead a decade in hits. The first baseman also was the 1990s doubles leader and finished 2nd in singles behind the Padres Tony Gwynn. Coming off the Wild Card season, the club establishes single-year marks for home, road and total attendance. Sadly, the Cubs also experience the loss of two Hall-of-Fame broadcasters, Harry Caray and Jack Brickhouse, both in 1998.
March 30, 1992: Cubs acquire Sammy Sosa in trade with White Sox for George Bell.
May 9, 1993: Mark Grace becomes 14th (and most recent) Cub to hit for cycle in Padres' 5-4 win.
September 25, 1995: Frank Castillo tosses 8.2 no-hit innings before surrendering an opposite-field triple to Bernard Gilkey in 7-0 victory vs. St. Louis.
May 6, 1998: Rookie Kerry Wood ties major-league record by fanning 20 batters in Cubs' 2-0 win vs. Astros.
September 13, 1998: In Cubs' 10-inning 11-10 win vs. Milwaukee, Sammy Sosa hits home runs Nos. 61 and 62 to tie and then surpass Roger Maris on single-season home run list.
September 28, 1998: Cubs capture NL wild-card postseason berth with 5-3 win vs. Giants in one-game playoff.
September 18, 1999: Sammy Sosa becomes first player in major-league history to reach 60-homer mark in back-to-back seasons.
The new millennium began as a tale of two seasons. In 2000, the team finished with a 65-97 record and established a club record when 51 players appeared in at least one game -- breaking the old mark of 49, set in 1966. The club also said goodbye to Mark Grace, who was a fixture at first base for the North Siders for 13 seasons. There were also many moments to celebrate, such as when Eric Young became the first Cub since the first season of Chicago National League baseball to steal five bases in a single game.
In 2001, the organization's fortunes reversed direction. In addition to finishing 88-74 -- 23-games better than they had the previous year (and only the sixth time since 1972 that the Cubs finished a season with a plus .500 record) -- they battled for a playoff spot until the final week of the season. The Cubs became the only team in Major League history to go an entire season without allowing an opposing pitcher to go the distance against them. Their pitching staff established a Major League record 1,344 strikeouts, besting the mark of 1,245 set by Atlanta in 1996. And with 2,889,454 fans attending home games, the Cubs closed out the 2001 season with the second-highest home attendance figure in park history.
Sammy Sosa also concluded 2001 with one of the most memorable four-season offensive stretches in Major League history. During that span, the Cubs resident slugger hit at least 50 home runs each year, joining Babe Ruth and Mark McGwire as the only players with more than two 50-roundtripper campaigns. He also established the total base record for a four-year period with 1,621 and his RBI total of 597 was the most in the Majors since Lou Gehrig drove in 639 from 1931-34. Sosa also set the big-league record for most homers over a six-year period with 319.
The 2001 season also saw Sammy Sosa tag 425 total bases for his second 400-plus campaign, setting club marks for extra-base hits (103) and slugging percentage (737), topping the records set by Hack Wilson. In addition, Sosa recorded just the seventh 50-homer/150 RBI season in Major League history. Sosa is the only player since World War II to accomplish this feat, having previously reached it in 1998 as well.
And those spikes were apparently made for walking. Sosa was intentionally walked 37 times in 2001, breaking the big league mark for a right-handed batter. Sosa wasn't the only Cub in 2001 to post impressive numbers.
Jon Lieber became the first Cub since Greg Maddux in 1992 to win 20 games, posting a 20-6 record and a 3.80 ERA in 34 starts and earning his first trip to the All-Star Game. Kerry Wood fanned 217 batters in 2001, reaching the 200-K plateau for the second time in his career. Wood is the first Cub since Fergie Jenkins to record multiple 200-strikeout seasons.
In 2002, the Cubs struggled to a 67-95 record and fifth place finish, 30 games back. The pitching staff did lead the Major Leagues in strikeouts with 1,333 but Cubs batters also whiffed the most with 1,269. Don Baylor was fired in July and Triple-A Iowa coach Bruce Kimm promoted to manage the big league club. However, Kimm was not retained for 2003 and in November, Dusty Baker was named the Cubs manager.
Among the bright spots: Sammy Sosa led the National League in home runs (49) for the second time in three years and also runs scored (122). He belted his 499th career homer in the last game of the regular season and was one swing away from joining the 500 club.
Kerry Wood and Matt Clement ranked third and fourth in the NL in strikeouts with 217 and 215, respectively. The only other time the Cubs had two pitchers with 200 strikeouts was 1970 when Fergie Jenkins and Ken Holtzman did so. Wood made a career-high 33 starts and topped 200 innings pitched for the first time.
One of the highlights of the 2002 season was the emergence of rookie right-hander Mark Prior, the Cubs' 2001 No. 1 draft pick who made his Major League debut on May 22 against Pittsburgh. He fanned 10 in his first start, the highest total by a Cubs pitcher in his debut since 1969.
New Chicago Cubs manager Dusty Baker wanted to see improvement in 2003. He never imagined the team would be five outs away from the World Series. The Cubs won their first NL Central Division title, posting an 88-74 record in Baker's first season at the helm. It wasn't exactly a smooth ride as superstar Sammy Sosa missed a month with a sore big toe and was suspended seven games for using a corked bat. Corey Patterson was the first half MVP, then suffered a season-ending knee injury July 6.
Starting pitchers Kerry Wood and Mark Prior were both named to the NL All-Star team and finished 1-2 in the NL in strikeouts. Joe Borowski calmly handled the closer duties, saving 33 games. He'd started the season with two saves in his career.
General manager Jim Hendry was aggressive and found players to fill voids, acquiring Kenny Lofton, Aramis Ramirez and Randall Simon in the second half. The Cubs won the division title in the second-to-last game with a doubleheader sweep against Pittsburgh. The team then saluted one of its legends, Ron Santo, by retiring his No. 10 on the last day.
The Cubs upset the East Division champion Atlanta Braves, 3-2, in the five-game NL Division Series. It marked the first postseason series win for the franchise since 1908. The Cubs were five outs away from advancing to the World Series for the first time since 1945 but lost Games 6 and 7 of the NL Championship Series at home and were eliminated by the Florida Marlins. It was a wild ride.
For the first time since 1971-72, the Chicago Cubs completed back-to-back winning seasons in 2004. But that proved to be little consolation for a club that was expected to make a return trip to the postseason but finished third in the NL Central.
The Cubs were ravaged by injuries, including Mark Prior, who did not make his season debut until June 4 because of an inflamed Achilles tendon, Kerry Wood, who missed two months with a sore triceps and Sammy Sosa, who missed nearly a month with back spasms. Nomar Garciaparra -- who was acquired on July 31 in a four-team trade -- was also hindered by injuries, battling nagging problems with his Achilles, wrist and groin, and was unable to provide the spark the Cubs were looking for.
The season was not without its excitement, however. Greg Maddux, in his return to the Cubs, became the 22nd Major League pitcher to win 300 games, Sosa passed Ernie Banks to become the club's all-time home run leader and the Cubs boasted four 30-home run hitters (Moises Alou, Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez and Sosa) for the first time in team history.
Oh, what might have been. It was a disappointing year for the Cubs, who had high hopes for the season, but were again bitten by the injury bug that played a major part in their 79-83 campaign, good for fourth in the NL Central.
Clearly, the Cubs' MVP for 2005 was Derrek Lee, who had a career year. The slugger flirted with the Triple Crown for the majority of the season and finished with a .335 average to win the National League batting title and lead all Major League hitters. Lee also led the team in doubles (50), triples (tied with three), homers (46), runs (120), RBIs (107) and stolen bases (tied with 15).
The Cubs also found a solid closer in Ryan Dempster, who made the switch to the position during the season and became one of three Major League pitchers to both make a start and save 30 games in a single season. He finished the season with 33 saves in 35 opportunities.
But injuries hindered the Cubs' postseason chances. Nomar Garciaparra missed three months with a groin injury, Kerry Wood's injured right shoulder forced him to push back his Opening Day start and nagged him all season, causing him to miss two months, Mark Prior missed significant time after being hit in the elbow on a line drive and Aramis Ramirez missed the final six weeks because of a leg injury. Todd Walker, Jerry Hairston and Ronny Cedeno also battled significant injuries that hurt the Cubs down the stretch.
Injuries again hurt the Cubs, who lost 96 games in 2006. First baseman Derrek Lee fractured his wrist in a freak collision in mid-April, and the offense sputtered. Juan Pierre did lead the National League in hits with 204, and Aramis Ramirez set career highs with 119 RBIs and 38 home runs.
Cubs pitchers led the Major Leagues in strikeouts, but ace Carlos Zambrano stole the show at the plate. The right-hander belted six home runs to tie the single-season record for most by a pitcher (Ferguson Jenkins, 1971) and also won his first Silver Slugger award. Zambrano was winless in April, yet rallied to win 16 games and finished fifth in the Cy Young voting.
Manager Dusty Baker compiled a 322-326 record in four seasons with the Cubs, but after the season ended, he was not retained. In October, the team hired Lou Piniella as the club's 50th manager.
In his first season, Lou Piniella guided the Cubs to the National League Central title, winning 85 games. The Cubs made their first postseason appearance since 2003 but they were swept in the National League Division Series by the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Cubs pitchers led the Majors in strikeouts for the seventh straight season. Carlos Zambrano set a career-high with 18 wins while two newcomers, Ted Lilly and Jason Marquis, won 15 and 12 games, respectively. Ryan Dempster was the closer but Carlos Marmol was the star of the bullpen, compiling a 1.43 ERA in 59 relief appearances.
This was Alfonso Soriano's first season in Chicago, too, after signing an eight-year contract and the left fielder hit 33 homers and 70 RBIs. Soriano carried the club in September, hitting a Major League record seven leadoff homers in the month.
The parent Tribune Co. announced on Opening Day that real estate investor Sam Zell had purchased the company and would attempt to sell the team.
This season was the 100th anniversary of the last Cubs' World Series championship, and they capped it by winning their second straight National League Central title with a league-leading 97 wins. It was the first time since 1906-08 that the team had advanced to the playoffs in consecutive years. However, the Cubs were again swept in the National League Division Series, losing to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Ryan Dempster switched from closer to starter and won a personal high 17 games while Kerry Wood went from starter to closer and saved 34. The pitching highlight came Sept. 14 when Carlos Zambrano threw his first no-hitter, doing so in Milwaukee against the Houston Astros. The game had been relocated from Houston because of Hurricane Ike.
The Cubs led the National League and were second in the Majors with 855 runs scored. They had four players with at least 80 RBIs and five with at least 20 home runs. In his first season behind the plate, catcher Geovany Soto belted 23 homers and drove in 86, and won National League Rookie of the Year.
They were well represented at the All-Star Game, sending eight players plus Lou Piniella, who won National League Manager of the Year. Soto was the first rookie catcher ever to start an All-Star game for the NL.
There was no place like home as the Cubs went 55-26 at Wrigley Field, the most wins since 1935.
The Cubs missed their bid to three-peat in the National League Central, finishing second at 83-78. It was the second time the Cubs had a winning record in three consecutive seasons in the last 70 years. Lou Piniella is the first Cubs manager since Charlie Grimm (1933-37) to post a .500 record or better in his first three seasons. Derrek Lee led the team with a .306 average, 35 home runs and 111 RBIs, but didn't get much support as injuries sidelined key players. Aramis Ramirez (shoulder) missed 50 games, Reed Johnson (foot) missed 49, and 10 others missed at least 20. Ramirez did drive in 65 runs in 82 games. The Cubs had eight players with 10 or more homers for the first time since 2000, including Milton Bradley, who had a tumultuous first year in Chicago. Bradley batted .257, drove in just 40 runs and was suspended for the final 15 games because of detrimental conduct.
The biggest surprise was rookie Randy Wells, a converted catcher, who finished tied for the team lead with 12 wins with All-Star Ted Lilly. Wells became the first rookie to reach double-digit wins since Kerry Wood won 13 in 1998. Carlos Marmol took over the closer's job in mid-August and went 11-for-11 in save situations. The sale of the team was finally completed. The Tribune Co. sold the Cubs, Wrigley Field and a 25 percent share in Comcast SportsNet Chicago to the Ricketts family for $845 million, completing the deal in late October. Tom Ricketts was named chairman, and didn't promise a World Series championship, but did emphasize getting there was the Cubs' goal and that they had the personnel to get there. "The key is, every season, to be able to stand up and in complete honesty say, we believe we have enough talent to get it done," Ricketts said. "To do that and be sincere about it and consistent with it, you're going to get it done."
While most of baseball celebrated the Year of the Pitcher, the 2010 season may best be remembered as the Year of the Rookies for the Cubs. The team finished fifth at 75-87, 16 games behind the Cincinnati Reds in the National League Central. The Cubs never topped .500, the first time they've failed to do that in a season since 2002. Eighteen rookies played, including 12 pitchers. Eleven players made their Major League debuts in 2010, with the most notable on May 7 when shortstop Starlin Castro burst onto the scene. He hit a three-run homer in his first at-bat and added a three-run triple against the Reds. The six RBIs were a Major League record for a debut. Tyler Colvin hit 20 homers in his first full season, the fourth most by a Cubs rookie, but his season ended early when he was stabbed in the chest by a broken bat Sept. 19.
Another star rookie was Andrew Cashner, part of a young bullpen, who made his Major League debut May 31. The Cubs did lead the NL in quality starts but went 22-32 in one-run games, the most losses in the Majors. Carlos Marmol set a franchise mark with 138 strikeouts in relief. His 15.99 Ks per nine innings was the highest single-season mark for a Major League reliever. Carlos Zambrano ended the season 8-0 with a 1.41 ERA in his last 11 outings. This was to be Lou Piniella's final season, but he began his retirement early, leaving after the August 22 game to tend to family matters. Mike Quade, a Chicago-area native who was the third base coach, took over, becoming the Cubs' 51st manager. They went 24-13 under "Q," the second-best record in the Major Leagues in the span behind the Philadelphia Phillies' 27-12 mark. On October 19, Quade agreed to a two-year contract with a club option for 2013.
Manager Mike Quade, who grew up a Cubs fan in the Chicago area, faced an uphill battle after the first five games when the team lost both starters Andrew Cashner and Randy Wells to injuries. The team struggled to find replacements, and finished with the third worst ERA (4.33) in the National League. For the season, the Cubs were fifth in the NL Central (71-91) and 25 games behind the Brewers.
Starlin Castro was the Cubs' lone All-Star and became the youngest in history to lead the National League in hits, totaling 207. Aramis Ramirez won his first Silver Slugger Award, hitting 26 homers and leading the Cubs with 93 RBIs.
The 2011 season did mark the return of Kerry Wood, the team's first-round pick in 1995, who gave the Cubs a hometown discount to come back and pitch out of the bullpen. It also was general manager Jim Hendry's last, as he was dismissed Aug. 19 after 17 years in the organization. Theo Epstein left the Boston Red Sox and joined the Cubs in late October as the president of baseball operations, and revamped the front office, naming Jed Hoyer as general manager and Jason McLeod as scouting and player development director. Both Hoyer and McLeod had worked with Epstein in Boston. The Cubs also dismissed Quade and hired Dale Sveum as the Cubs' 52nd manager. Epstein's goal? To build "a foundation for sustained success."
Theo Epstein's plan for the Cubs was to "build a foundation for sustained success." Dale Sveum, a former big league infielder and hitting coach with the Milwaukee Brewers, took over as manager, and was assigned the task of changing the culture. The effort was there but often the Cubs were over-matched and finished 61-101 for the first 100-loss season since 1966. The team went 50-31 when it scored at least four runs, and was 11-70 when scoring three runs or less.
Kerry Wood unexpectedly retired on May 18, ending a career that began in 1998 with the Cubs and was interrupted by elbow and shoulder injuries. He finished with one last strikeout. Bryan LaHair won the starting first baseman's job after leading the Pacific Coast League in 2011 with 38 home runs, and was named to the NL All-Star team. However, he was benched after the arrival of Anthony Rizzo in late June. Rizzo provided an instant boost, hitting game-winning RBIs in three of his first five games and won NL Rookie of the Month in July.
At the Trade Deadline, Ryan Dempster, Paul Maholm and Geovany Soto were dealt for prospects. They used a club-record 53 players, including 20 rookies, the most since 1974. Second baseman Darwin Barney won his first Gold Glove, playing a NL record 141 consecutive games without an error. Alfonso Soriano delivered, hitting 32 home runs and driving in 108 runs. Starlin Castro reached 500 hits at the age of 22.
The Cubs finished the regular season with a 66-96 record, fifth in the NL Central Division, and used a franchise record 56 players. This surpassed the previous mark of 53 players used in 2012. Chicago used 43 players, including 24 pitchers prior to the All-Star break, both franchise marks. The team went 13-7 in interleague play, the team's first winning season against the AL since going 8-4 in 2007.
Anthony Rizzo (40 doubles) and Nate Schierholtz (32 doubles) became the first Cubs left-handed hitting teammates to reach 30 doubles in the same season since Jacque Jones (32) and Juan Pierre (31) in 2006.
The Cubs had a unique three-game stretch in which they won in three ballparks: May 26 at Great American Ball Park, May 27 at U.S. Cellular Field and May 29 at Wrigley Field. This marked the first time since 1956 that the Cubs had at least a three-game winning streak in which each win was at a different ballpark.
Starlin Castro led the team with 161 games and 163 hits while Anthony Rizzo paced the team with 71 runs, 65 extra-base hits, 40 doubles, 23 homers and 80 RBI. Travis Wood led the club with nine wins and a 3.11 ERA. Jeff Samardzija's 214 strikeouts led the club.
The 2014 season was the Cubs' first in their new Spring Training complex in Mesa, Arizona, and first for manager Rick Renteria. Starlin Castro rebounded from a tough 2013 and was named to his third All-Star team. Anthony Rizzo was voted in by fans in Final Vote campaign. Jake Arrieta missed the first month of the season because of tightness in right shoulder but bounced back and became the first Cubs pitcher to take no-hitters into the seventh inning three times in a season since 1950. Javier Baez hit a game-winning home run in the 12th inning in his Major League debut August 5, and Jorge Soler topped that by belting a home run in his first big league at-bat on August 27. Another prospect, Kyle Hendricks, made a good first impression, posting a 4-0 record and 1.69 ERA in six August starts. On October 31, Renteria was dismissed, and three days later, Joe Maddon was hired as the new Cubs manager. Maddon had become a free agent after he opted out of his contract with the Tampa Bay Rays. He signed a five-year, $25 million contract. Jon Lester, lured by the prospect of winning a World Series with the Cubs, signed a five-year, $155 million contract in December.
Chicago advanced to the National League Championship Series for the first time since 2003, going 97-65 in the regular season to capture the second NL Wild Card spot. The Cubs won the wildcard game in Pittsburgh, 4-0, a contest in which Jake Arrieta spun a complete game shutout. Chicago defeated the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLDS, three-games-to-one, before falling to the New York Mets in the NLCS, four-games-to-none. The 97-65 regular season record was the team's third-best in the previous 75 seasons (98-56 in 1945 and 97-64 in 2008).
Cubs pitchers set a NL single-season record with 1,431 strikeouts. Joe Maddon earned NL Manager of the Year honors in his first year at the helm of the club. The Cubs experienced a 24-win turnaround from 2014, the best in baseball, and the 97 wins marked a franchise record for a manager's first year with the club. Jake Arrieta won the NL Cy Young, going 22-6 with four complete games, three shutouts and a 1.77 ERA in 33 starts. He recorded a 0.75 ERA and was 12-1 in 15 starts following the All-Star break, the lowest second-half ERA since the All-Star Game was instituted in 1933. Arrieta three times was named NL Pitcher of the Week and twice named NL Pitcher of the Month (August and September).
Kris Bryant earned unanimous NL Rookie of the Year honors and set franchise rookie marks with 26 home runs, 99 RBI, 62 extra-base hits and 273 total bases. He was named NL Rookie of the Month for both May and August. Bryant and Anthony Rizzo were named NL All-Stars, and both competed in the All-Star Game Home Run Derby.
The Cubs began the season with high expectations following the success from 2015 and the additions of Jason Heyward, Ben Zobrist and John Lackey. Manager Joe Maddon's message was to "embrace the target," and the players did just that. Dexter Fowler surprised his teammates by returning in late February, which took care of center field and the leadoff spot. In the third game of the season, Kyle Schwarber tore two ligaments in his left knee in a freak outfield collision, and was out for the season. At least, that's what the Cubs thought. The team bounced back and went 17-5 in April, fueled by solid starting pitching as Jake Arrieta went 5-0 and threw his second career no-hitter on April 21 vs. the Cincinnati Reds. Fowler batted .347 in April, and Zobrist set the tone in May, batting .406 with a .483 on-base percentage. The Cubs finished June with the best record in the Majors for the first time since 1977 at 51-27. Jon Lester was named NL Pitcher of the Month (4-0, 1.41 ERA). Willson Contreras and Albert Almora Jr. made their Major League debuts in June. Seven Cubs, including the entire starting infield, were named to the All-Star team. Anthony Rizzo and Addison Russell became the first Cubs duo to reach 20 RBIs in July since 2010. The Cubs acquired closer Aroldis Chapman in a trade with the New York Yankees, but went 12-14 in July. The best win may have come on the last day as the Cubs erased a six-run deficit against the Seattle Mariners, scoring three in the ninth to tie the game, and winning on Lester's sacrifice bunt in the 12th.
In August, the Cubs posted a 22-6 record, including a 14-2 mark at home. Kyle Hendricks earned NL Pitcher of the Month honors after going 4-0 with a 1.28 ERA while Kris Bryant batted .383 with 10 homers and 22 RBIs, and was named NL Player of the Month. Russell led the Cubs with 23 RBIs in the month. In September, Lester went 5-0 with a 0.48 ERA to pick up his second NL Pitcher of the Month award. On September 26, the Cubs picked up their 100th win of the season with a 12-2 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. Chicago finished the year 103-58, the best record in MLB, and a 17 1/2-game lead in the NL Central. The Cubs posted a plus 252 run differential; tops in the Majors and topped only once in franchise history (plus 324 in 1906). Wrigley Field gave them an edge as the Cubs set a franchise record with 57 wins at home. Chicago's starting rotation led the Majors with a 2.96 ERA, paced by Hendricks (2.13) and Lester (2.44).
The Cubs opened the playoffs against the Giants in the NL Division Series, and won the series, 3-1. In the decisive Game 4, the Cubs rallied to score four runs in the ninth for a 6-5 win. Contreras hit a game-tying two-run single and Javier Baez smacked a go-ahead RBI single. The only loss was a 13-inning battle in Game 3 which the Cubs tied on Bryant's two-run homer in the ninth. Next up was the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the Cubs won Game 1 behind Miguel Montero's eighth inning pinch-hit grand slam. The Dodgers won the next two games but the Cubs tied the series in Game 4 with a 10-2 victory, sparked by Zobrist's bunt single to lead off the fourth. Russell added a two-run homer that inning. Rizzo borrowed Matt Szczur's bat and rattled off three straight hits, including a home run. The Cubs won the next two games to clinch their first pennant since 1945. In the 5-0 win in Game 6, Hendricks outdueled Clayton Kershaw, giving up a leadoff single, and then holding the Dodgers hitless until the eighth. Baez and Lester were named co-MVPs.
The Cubs faced the Cleveland Indians in the World Series, and got Schwarber back as the designated hitter. The Cubs fell behind, 3-1, in the best of seven series, but won Game 5 at Wrigley Field behind Lester and Chapman, who threw a career-high 2 2/3 innings. Russell was the force in Game 5, hitting a two-run double and a grand slam for six RBIs in a 9-3 victory. The Cubs opened a 6-3 lead in Game 7 at Progressive Field but the Indians tied the game with three runs in the eighth off Chapman. A brief rain delay stopped play prior to the 10th inning, which gave Heyward time to gather the players for a pep talk. The Cubs responded by scoring two runs in the 10th on an RBI double by Zobrist and RBI single by Montero, and held on for the first World Series championship since 1908. Zobrist was named MVP of the series.
The Cubs were celebrated with a parade in Chicago on November 4 that officials estimate drew 5 million people. Rizzo and Heyward were honored as Gold Glove winners, and Rizzo and Arrieta won their first Silver Slugger awards. Bryant capped his season by being named NL Most Valuable Player. Besides ending the championship drought, the feel good story of the season was David Ross, also known as "Grandpa Rossy," who had declared this his last season. The 39-year-old catcher was saluted by his teammates and fans, and finished with a bang, hitting a home run in Game 7 of the World Series.
The Cubs reached the National League Championship Series for the third-straight year, becoming the first team to reach the NLCS for three-straight campaigns since the Cardinals did so from 2011-14. The Cubs qualified for the postseason three years in a row for the first time since 1906-08. Chicago won the NL Central Division for the second-straight year, going 90-72. After going 43-45 in the season's first half, Chicago was 49-25 following the All-Star Game. Chicago defeated the Washington Nationals in the National League Division Series, three-games-to-two, before falling to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLCS, four-games-to-one.
The Cubs scored 822 runs in the regular season, surpassing 800 runs scored for just the 10th time in franchise history. The team belted 223 home runs, the second-highest single-season total in franchise history (235 homers in 2004), while six players reached 20 homers, a franchise mark. Joe Maddon recorded his 1,000th career managerial victory on May 17 against Cincinnati. Kris Bryant hit 29 homers, making him the first Cub ever to reach 25 homers in each of his first three major league seasons. Anthony Rizzo tied his career high with 109 RBI. Closer Wade Davis converted a franchise-record 32-straight save opportunities to start the season.
The Cubs earned the first N.L. Wild Card spot, and advanced to the postseason for the fourth-straight campaign. It marked the first time in franchise history the team made the playoffs in four consecutive seasons. Chicago fell in the N.L. Wild Card Game vs. Colorado, 2-1, after finishing the season with a 95-68 record, including a 3-1 setback in a tiebreaker game vs. Milwaukee. The Cubs reached 90 wins for the fourth season in a row, a feat accomplished for the first time in more than 100 years since a nine-season run of 90 or more wins from 1904-12. Chicago led the majors with 48 come-from-behind wins. Javier Baez had a MVP-worthy campaign and led the N.L. with 111 RBI. Baez and Willson Contreras were starters for the N.L. All-Star Team, as Jon Lester was also named to the Mid-Summer Classic.
Following a run of four consecutive postseason appearances, the Cubs finished with an 84-78 record and in third place in the National League Central. The Cubs did not offer Maddon a contract extension following the season. The revered manager led the franchise to 471 wins (fifth-most for a Cubs manager in history) and a .581 winning percentage (second-highest in club history). Maddon was the fastest MLB manager to reach 400 victories with one franchise since Joe Torre (1996-99). After the '19 season, the Cubs hired David Ross as Maddon's replacement. The Cubs recorded a winning record for a fifth straight season, marking the longest such run since doing so in six years in a row from 1967-72). The Cubs were 51-30 at home (12th time since 1916 to reach that win total at Wrigley Field), but 33-48 on the road. Javier Baez, Willson Contreras and Kris Bryant represented the Cubs at the All-Star Game. Baez started at shortstop after starting at second base for the NL in 2018, making him the only player in MLB history to start at second and short in consecutive All-Star Games. Contreras became the first Cubs catcher to start back-to-back All-Star Games since Gabby Hartnett in 1936-37. The Cubs' end-of-year honors were highlighted by first baseman Anthony Rizzo receiving a Gold Glove Award. The Cubs set a single-season franchise record with 256 home runs, including a club record 10 grand slams (beating a 1929 club record). From Sept. 13-15, the Cubs scored 47 runs in a three-game set against the Pirates. That was the most runs over a three-game series by the team since 1894. It also marked the first time a NL club had at least 14 runs in three straight games since the 1930 Cubs accomplished the feat. At the July 31 Trade Deadline, the Cubs made a series of additions, including acquiring outfielder Nicholas Castellanos from the Tigers. Castellanos launched 11 homers in August, marking the most in the month by a Cubs hitter since Sammy Sosa had 11 in August of '02. Castellanos hit .384 with a 1.162 OPS at Wrigley Field and finished with 16 homers and 21 doubles in 51 games overall for Chicago. He ended the season with 58 doubles, the 10th-most in one year in MLB history and the most for a right-handed batter in a single season since 1936. Chicago's starting rotation did not issue a walk in six straight games from July 30-Aug. 4, representing the longest such streak for Cubs starters since at least 1905. Yu Darvish finished with 42 strikeouts and just one walk in August, becoming only the fourth pitcher in recorded MLB history to have at least 40 strikeouts and no more than one walk issued in a single calendar month (since 1893). Darvish also set a single-game Cubs record with eight straight strikeouts on Sept. 17 against the Reds, and his 16.86 strikeout-to-walk ratio after the All-Star break was the highest rate in MLB history in the second half. On May 3, Kyle Hendricks completed an 81-pitch shutout against the Cardinals.
Under new manager David Ross, the Cubs finished the abbreviated 2020 campaign with a 34-26 record and an National League Central title. It marked the third division crown and fifth playoff berth in a span of six years for Chicago, which missed the postseason in ‘19. Ross’ Cubs stormed out to a 13-3 start, making him only the 12th manager in MLB history to win at least 13 of his first 16 career managerial games, per the Elias Sports Bureau. Kyle Hendricks set the tone with a complete game on Opening Day on July 24 against the Brewers and Yu Darvish (2.01 ERA in 12 starts) stepped up as an ace, finishing second in voting for the NL Cy Young Award. On July 12, the Cubs enjoyed what might have been their best win of the year, when Jason Heyward keyed a late comeback with a three-run homer off Brewers closer Josh Hader. One day later, Alec Mills authored the 16th no-hitter in Cubs history with a masterpiece in Milwaukee. On Aug. 30, Ian Happ, Kyle Schwarber and Jason Heyward made history, becoming the first trio of starting outfielders to each have a multi-homer showing in the same game. They did so against the Reds in Cincinnati. While Happ (.866 OPS) and Heyward (.848) led Chicago’s offense, the lineup’s overall struggles persisted in the playoffs. The Cubs scored just one run in two losses to the Marlins, who dealt the North Siders a sweep of the best-of-three Wild Card Series at Wrigley Field. Still, Ross finished third in balloting for the NL Manager of the Year for the Cubs’ showing on the field, as well as their diligence away from the diamond (zero positive COVID-19 tests among the players). The Cubs took home the first-ever Team Gold Glove Award and had seven Gold Glove finalists, with Javier Baez (first) and Anthony Rizzo (fourth) picking up hardware. On Nov. 20, the Cubs’ front office officially turned the page on the Theo Epstein Era. Epstein stepped down from his post as the president of baseball operations, ending his nine-year run as the Cubs’ front-office leader. Following one of the great decades in Cubs history -- highlighted by the 2016 World Series championship -- Epstein left the organization and the team named long-time GM Jed Hoyer the new president of baseball operations.
Coming off a division crown in the abbreviated 2020 campaign, the Cubs went 71-91 and placed fourth in the National League Central under manager David Ross in '21. That ended a six-year streak of winning records, which was the longest such run by the ballclub since another six-year stretch from 1967-72.
In Ross' second season at the helm, the Cubs got off to a strong start, sitting atop the NL Central as late as June 24. On that date, four Chicago pitchers (Zach Davies, Ryan Tepera, Andrew Chafin and Craig Kimbrel) combined to throw the 17th no-hitter in franchise history in a 4-0 road victory over the Dodgers. After that historic win, an 11-game losing streak caused a dramatic shift in the Cubs' season.
As losses piled up in late June and early July, the Cubs parted ways with nine players in the weeks, days and hours leading up to the July 30 Trade Deadline. The departures included core players Javier Báez (Mets), Kris Bryant (Giants) and Anthony Rizzo (Yankees), who were among more than a dozen Cubs players poised to reach free agency at the end of the year. While that contributed to a 29-58 record after June 24, it also created opportunity for some unheralded players to emerge.
Patrick Wisdom came up in late May and led NL rookies with 28 home runs, setting a single-season record for a Cubs rookie. Frank Schwindel joined the Cubs on July 30 and hit .342 with a 1.002 OPS, leading the Majors in hits (76) after his promotion and taking home NL Rookie of the Month honors in August and September. Wisdom and Schwindel finished fourth and sixth, respectively, in NL Rookie of the Year voting.
In total, the Cubs used 69 players in 2021, establishing an MLB record for a single season. That included 15 players who made their MLB debut in '21 for the North Siders. Led by Wisdom and Ian Happ (career-high 25 homers), the Cubs hit 210 homers as an offense (fifth-most in team history). They also set a single-season MLB record for offensive strikeouts (1,596). The Cubs had two All-Stars (Bryant and Kimbrel) in '21.
The third season under manager David Ross resulted in a 74-88 record and third-place finish for a rebuilding Cubs club that continued to reshape its roster. The '22 campaign marked the final seasons in Cubs uniforms for Willson Contreras and Jason Heyward, leaving Kyle Hendricks as the lone player remaining from the 2016 World Series champions.
In his last year with the North Siders, Contreras earned a start for the National League All-Star team, marking his third such assignment for Chicago. He hit in front of his younger brother, fellow catcher William Contreras, in the NL's lineup. Heyward labored through an injury-marred tour and bid farewell to the fans at season's end.
Left fielder Ian Happ starred for the Cubs as a first-time All-Star and Gold Glove recipient, Nico Hoerner was one of the league’s top defensive shortstops, Justin Steele (3.18 ERA) emerged as a reliable starter and the Cubs cycled through 25 rookies. That included Christopher Morel, who provided one of the signature moments of the year by homering in his first career at-bat.
The Cubs did experience some positive momentum in the season's second half, going 39-31 with the third-best rotation ERA (2.89) in the Majors. That progress, combined with the improving farm system, helped convince the front office that the time had come to begin turning the page on a two-year rebuild.
Following the previous offseason's signings of Marcus Stroman and Seiya Suzuki, the Cubs reeled in free-agents Dansby Swanson, Jameson Taillon and Cody Bellinger in a flurry of moves ahead of 2023. Swanson joined the Cubs on a seven-year, $177 million contract -- one of the largest deals in franchise history.