Tuesday, September 9, 2008

1908 vs. 2008: Third Base

Between now and the end of the season we're going to compare the last Cubs championship team to this year's future championship team. Next stop: Third Base


Steinfeldt is the answer to the trivia question, 'Who was the other infielder besides Tinkers, Evers & Chance.' He was the third baseman during the Championship era--every bit as important to the Cubs as his Hall of Fame infield compatriots. (He's the one on the far left of this photograph. You may have seen this picture before with Steinfeldt cropped out.)

Steinfeldt was one of the first players that Chance acquired when he took over the general manager duties before the '06 season. He traded Jake Weimer, a left handed pitcher, to acquire him from Cincinnati. Steinfeldt was probably the MVP of the 1906 team that set a record for most victories. That year he led the league in hits and RBI, batted .327, and stole 29 bases. In the 1907 World Series he hit .471.

Although 1908 was a bit of a down year for Steinfeldt (he hit only .241), he remained one of the team's best clutch hitters. Batting 5th in the lineup, he was counted on to knock in the big runs. He probably wasn't as respected as the other infielders on the team for one reason, and one reason only. He had an iron glove at 3B. In 1908 he made 28 errors.

Steinfeldt was shipped out of Chicago after the 1910 World Series (the last year of the Cubs dynasty). He only played one more season in the big leagues, then tried to reclaim his lost hitting stroke in the minors, but never found it.

He died of a cerebral hemorrhage in 1914 at the tender age of 37.


Like his 1908 counterpart, Aramis Ramirez is THE clutch hitter for the Chicago Cubs. This year he bats cleanup, but he prefers to bat in Steinfeldt's old slot--5th. Year after year Aramis leads the Cubs in RBI, and seems to relish the most difficult situations. After the seventh inning, he's amongst the most feared hitters in the game.

Ramirez also benefits from the same thing Steinfeldt enjoyed with the 1908 Cubs--a slick fielding first baseman. Thanks to the steady play of Derrek Lee at first base, the error totals for Aramis have continued to decline. This year there is even talk about a possible gold glove. (That's something his 1908 counterpart Harry Steinfeldt could have never earned--despite the great play of Frank Chance.)

Ramirez starred for the Cubs in the 2003 playoffs, but struggled in 2007. It remains to be seen if he will reclaim his clutch playoff status in 2008.