Lukehart: The greatest Chicago-area baseball players

From SABR member Jason Lukehart at Ground Ball With Eyes on November 30, 2013:

Baseball talent is not evenly distributed around the United States, for reasons largely having to do with climate. As you’d expect, more MLB players come from warmer parts of the country. Still, any big city is going to produce a fair amount of talent over the years.

What kind of team could be built entirely of players from my hometown of Chicago? Place of birth is what I know how to feasibly research, so that’s what I’m using. I’m also including the metro area, to get a wider scope. All players included here were born in Chicago or a suburb within 30 miles of the city limits.


1) Bret Saberhagen (Chicago Heights) – 3.34 ERA (126 ERA+) in 2,562.2 innings (1984-2001), with 1,715 strikeouts. 3-time All-Star won the American League Cy Young Award in 1985 and 1989 and is also the last pitcher to throw a postseason “Maddux.”
2) Charlie Leibrandt (Chicago) – 3.71 ERA (108 ERA+) in 2,308 innings (1979-1993), with 1,121 strikeouts. One of the best pitchers of the expansion era (1961 on) never named to an All-Star team. He and Saberhagen were teammates from 1984-1989, giving those Royals a strong Chicago flavor.
3) Cy Falkenberg (Chicago) – 2.68 ERA (106 ERA+) in 2,275 innings (1903-1917), with 1,164 strikeouts. His best season was probably 1914, when he led the newly formed Federal League in starts (43), innings (377.1), and strikeouts (236) while pitching for the Indianapolis Hoosiers. (Learn more from his SABR biography)

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Originally published: December 4, 2013. Last Updated: December 4, 2013.