Last Updated on November 16, 2023 by Matt Musico
The Chicago Cubs have been around long enough to have experienced plenty of instances where a player registers at least 100 RBI in a season. It’s been done a total of 77 times in franchise history, but which hitters are among the single-season Cubs RBI leaders?
That’s what we’ll be focusing on here. Since 77 is a pretty high number, we’ll go a little shorter than that. The below post will include a more in-depth look at the top five before listing out the remainder of the top 26.
Single-Season Cubs RBI Leaders: Top 5
Hack Wilson: 191 RBI in 1930
Whenever you want to have a discussion about baseball’s most unbreakable records, you better include what Hack Wilson did for the Cubs in 1930. His 191 RBI were the end of a six-year stretch where he surpassed the century mark each season. It only took him 155 games to reach this number. It certainly helped that he hit a league-leading 56 home runs, as well.
But my favorite stat of all when looking at this particular season? It’d be that Wilson racked up nearly as many RBI (191) as he did total hits (208). That’s absolutely insane.
If we split his performance into two parts, Wilson made all his money in the back half of the season. Through the first three months, he surpassed 10 homers and 30 RBI just once (May). He did that in each of July, August, and September. His month of August is probably the most absurd of all. In 144 plate appearances, Wilson slashed .398/.496/.788 with 13 (!) home runs and 53 (!!) RBI.
Sammy Sosa: 160 RBI in 2001
Sammy Sosa owns the single-season and all-time home run leaderboards when it comes to Cubs history. It wouldn’t have been outrageous to think he’d also be at the top of the RBI leaderboard. However, he comes in a distant second. The other assumption you might’ve made is that Sosa’s 1998 performance was the best of the bunch.
Not quite. Although we’ll talk about that year in a minute.
The 2001 season ended a ridiculous stretch for the outfielder. With 64 homers and 160 RBI, it was the fourth straight year he slugged at least 50 dingers with 130-plus RBI. Oh, and this particular instance was the third time he surpassed the 60-homer plateau in a four-year span.
Sosa never finished a month with fewer than 20 RBI. What he did in August was most impressive, though. The right-handed slugger hit 17 home runs with 36 RBI to go along with a .385/.469/.936 line in 130 plate appearances.
Hack Wilson: 159 RBI in 1929
Before his 191-RBI campaign, Wilson set the stage the year prior. It wasn’t nearly as ridiculous as what he did in 1930, but the outfielder still averaged more than one RBI per game played (159 RBI in 150 games). As it turns out, this was just a foreshadowing of what was to come.
It’s hard to have the kind of month he had in August of 1930, but he came pretty close in July of ’29. In 135 plate appearances, Wilson hit .416/.496/.779 with 11 homers and 41 RBI. He was the definition of a run-producing machine. The team he tortured the most in this department was the St. Louis Cardinals. In just 21 games played against them, Wilson produced a 1.266 OPS with nine home runs and 32 RBI.
Sammy Sosa: 158 RBI in 1998
This is the Sammy Sosa season many were probably expecting to see on here. What else is there to say about this performance? We’ve talked about it plenty across these interweb pages.
Sosa produced 20-plus RBI in a month five times during the ’98 season. He actually rivaled Hack Wilson’s production in June when he hit 20 homers with 40 RBI. The outfielder collected double-digit RBI against seven different teams during this particular season. The ones who let Sosa go to work the most? That would be the Milwaukee Brewers and Philadelphia Phillies. Sosa produced 18 RBI against each club.
Rogers Hornsby: 149 RBI in 1929
If you’re thinking to yourself, “Hey, isn’t Rogers Hornsby among the Cardinals’ single-season RBI leaders, too?” You’d be right. He was just this good.
Hornsby didn’t lead the league in home runs (39) or RBI (149) in 1929, but he did take home his second and final MVP Award. This campaign was Hornsby’s one last hurrah of elite production in the big leagues. He reached these power numbers (with a 1.139 OPS) in 712 plate appearances. The final seven years of his career included 844 plate appearances, which led to 24 home runs with 165 RBI to go along with a .909 OPS.
Single-Season Cubs RBI Leaders: The Rest
As mentioned above, there have been 77 different instances of 100-plus RBI by a player in Cubs history. Here’s the remainder of the top 26.
- Cap Anson, 1886: 147 RBI
- Ernie Banks, 1959: 143
- Sammy Sosa, 1999: 141
- Sammy Sosa, 2000: 138
- Andre Dawson, 1987: 137
- Kiki Cuyler, 1930: 134
- Walt Wilmot, 1894: 130
- Hack Wilson, 1927: 129
- Ernie Banks, 1958: 129
- Billy Williams, 1970: 129
- Bill Nicholson, 1943: 128
- Ron Santo, 1969: 123
- Gabby Hartnett, 1930: 122
- Bill Nicholson, 1944: 122
- Billy Williams, 1972: 122
- Hank Sauer, 1952: 121
- Cap Anson, 1891: 120
- Hack Wilson, 1928: 120
- Sammy Sosa, 1995 and 1997: 119
- Aramis Ramirez, 2006: 119
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