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Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
John Grochowski | For the Sun-Times

Willson Contreras is 17th player with at least 4 seasons of 20 or more homers with Cubs

Willson Contreras celebrates while rounding the bases after hitting a two-run homer in the fifth inning Saturday against the Brewers at Wrigley Field. (Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

When Willson Contreras slugged his 20th home run of 2022 last week, he became the 17th Cubs player with at least four seasons of 20 or more homers.

The leaders are Ernie Banks and Billy Williams with 13 seasons each, Sammy Sosa with 12 and Ron Santo with 11.

Four Cubs from the 2016 World Series champions are in the club. Anthony Rizzo hit 20 or more seven times with the Cubs, and Kris Bryant and Javy Baez did it four times each to precede Contreras.

Among 20th- and 21st-century players, those with at least 10 seasons of 20 or more homers have four of the five highest Fangraphs position-player WARs in Cubs history. Santo, at 71.9, is topped only by 19th-century star Cap Anson (81.8). Banks (63.3) is second, Sosa (60.7) fourth and Williams (58.9) fifth.

Ryne Sandberg, with six seasons of 20 or more homers with the Cubs, is between Banks and Sosa at 61.0.

The 2016 champions didn’t have enough time together to reach that level. Rizzo (32.8) stands 16th, Bryant (31.1) 17th and Baez (19.9) 30th. The count continues for Contreras, who is 41st at 15.4.

The other three are building numbers, too, but with other teams and with mixed success.

Rizzo: A prime member of Aaron Judge’s supporting cast on the American League East-leading Yankees, Rizzo is tied with the Twins’ Byron Buxton for eighth in the majors and third in the AL with 28 homers (through Sunday). Judge owns the category with 46. The Phillies’ Kyle Schwarber, who had three seasons of 20 or more homers with the Cubs, leads the National League with 34.

Dealt to the Yankees last July, Rizzo homered eight times for them in 2021 after hitting 14 for the Cubs.

Rizzo’s batting average, a career .265, has dipped to .221 this season, but he has 52 walks and has been hit by 17 pitches for a .337 on-base percentage. With an .828 OPS, Rizzo has 136 weighted runs created plus, 36% better than the major-league average.

Bryant: Traded to the Giants last July, Bryant added to his homer list by hitting seven for them after hitting 18 for the Cubs in 2021.

He signed with the Rockies, but an anticipated power surge at Coors Field hasn’t happened. Injuries kept Bryant sidelined for most of May and June, and he has been out in August. Bryant has only 181 plate appearances. His five homers all came in July.

Hitting .306/.376/.475 for an .851 OPS, Bryant isn’t far off his career .879 OPS. With a 125 wRC+, Bryant has produced when he has been in the lineup.

Baez: He gave the Mets a good couple of months after the Cubs traded him last July, hitting .299/.371/.515 with nine homers that pushed his season total to 31.

It has been a different story with the Tigers in 2022, however. After an .826 OPS in April, Baez dropped to .681 by May 5 and hasn’t seen .700 again this season.

Now at .222/.264/.369 for a .633 OPS with 11 homers, Baez has been nowhere near what the Tigers anticipated. His 79 wRC+ is 21% below that of an average hitter, and adding to his list of 20-homer seasons is a long shot.

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