PECOTA picks Cubs to go 82-80 -- and miss the playoffs by one game

PECOTA picks Cubs to go 82-80 -- and miss the playoffs by one game

Baseball Prospectus released it's PECOTA projections and the news for the Cubs is good...sorta.

The good news is they have the Cubs winning 82 games.  The bad news is that is one game short of a NL Wild Card spot.  They have the Cubs finishing just 7 games behind the Cardinals and one game ahead of the Pirates (click to enlarge)

Cubs Pecota

I don't want to write too much on individual players, since it is subscription only but a few items of note...

  • Once again Anthony Rizzo is the team's best player with 3.8 Wins Above Replacement Player (WARP).  Rizzo is projected to have .262/.343/.472 line with 26 HRs.
  • Starlin Castro is next with a 2.7 WARP and a slash line of .277/.317/.397 line with 9 HRs.
  • If you are wondering about Kris Bryant, he is at 2.0 WARP despite just 199 PAs.  In that third of a season, they project Bryant to hit .261/.351/.515 with 12 HRs.  Maybe if they had him up for at least 2/3 of the season, he'd make up the 2 extra wins needed to reach the playoffs.
  • PECOTA has both Javier Baez and LaStella getting a lot of ABs with the latter's PAs coming at 3B.  Baez contributes 25 HRs while LaStella pitches in with a .341 OBP, behind only Bryant, Rizzo and Dexter Fowler (.343).  Baez's HR total is behind only Rizzo's and just ahead of Jorge Soler's (24).
  • One odd pitching projection is Kyle Hendricks, who is slated to pitch just 68 innings in 8 starts.  Considering they project him to have the best ERA (3.11) and WHIP (1.12) of any starter -- yes, even Jon Lester (3.28 and 1.15, respectively), the Cubs may want to give him a few more than 8 starts.
  • Edwin Jackson, projected for the starting rotation, was well below replacement level (-0.7)
  • In the bullpen, PECOTA likes Jason Motte and Pedro Strop in what looks to be a strong bullpen.

Definitely a lot of interesting stuff and a subscription to BP is always worth it, in my opinion.  So check that out if you can.

82 wins with some conservative projections and unexpected small sample sizes for players expected to contribute all season makes me feel pretty good about the Cubs chances, especially given PECOTA's reputation for accuracy.  A  little more Bryant (and yes, we can still keep him down for 9 games) plus a swapping out of Jackson in favor of Hendricks  in the rotation and the Cubs are a playoff team!

Edit: I want to add that  the last line was meant to be tongue-in-cheek.  A system like PECOTA has to make those decisions objectively, based on patterns and historical trends. If you want to make an objective projection, you can’t make subjective assumptions about playing time. They’ll just go with the typical amount of playing time a player with Bryant’s or Hendricks’ experience gets in the majors.  And they will do that across the board with all teams.  PECOTA has been pretty accurate as far as predicting team records so even if the exact particulars may differ from what we believe will happen in terms of individual PAs or innings, that across the board objectivity is what makes their projections so accurate.

 

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    I won't go into all the reasons, but I have them winning the division at 88-74. I think that no one team will stand up and run away from the pack and that all five teams may very well finish within 12 or 15 games of each other

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    I think that's a good take on the division.

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    I didn't know Bryant's projection was based on 1/3rd of a season. Is that standard for rookie players? I know we have no idea what the Cubs will do, but the consensus seems to be that he will be up in late April, which means he'll play more than 2/3rd of the season.

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    In reply to jorel1114:

    Agreed. I think late April is more realistic. It'll delay his FA another year but may give him an extra year of arbitration eligibility.
    I think the Pecota stuff is way off in some areas, like saying LaStella, who has never played 3B, will be getting significant at bats there.
    And why would Fowler have just a .343 OBP when he's had 6 straight seasons of at least .360?
    Not sure how Pecota does their projections, but some have
    left me shaking my head

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    not really a reach as the cubs were 17GB cards last yr. that's only 2 off of your 12-15 spread in the division. If there is a 15 game spread from top to bottom then the leader isn't being pushed much more than last year ,are they?

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    It seems odd to me that they take an educated guess on LaStella getting a lot of PA at 3B, but they can't figure out that Bryant will accumulate way more than 200 PA.

  • In reply to Aggravated Battery:

    Definitey some quirks to the projections but a quick glance shows that other teams have them too, but I am not sure they have any bigger quirks than Hendricks and Bryant getting about a 1/3 of a season worth of playing time.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    To me that is a huge flaw in their evaluation system. There are only so my PA and innings to be had. They give you a picture, but not a very clear one. I guess you could say the division is up for grabs.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    John, I think this is a key point here. Every team has quirky predictions in their projections, but i would guess that those quirky projections are weighted more in the Cubs' projections based on so much young new talent vs. a team like the Cardinals who have more veterans. The big (and disappointing) take away here to me is that PECOTA thinks the Cardinals will be pretty dang good. That's far and above a superior NL Central lead than I've seen other projection systems give them.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    John. Pecota has a lot OF WEIRD projections for the Cubs this year. Bryant with 199Pas? t\hats only 45-50 games worth of abs. LaStella, who has never played 3b in the bigs, with 40% of his starts at 3b? Harumph. You pointed out Kyle Hendricks, did they not see the guy from last year? Hes not a "stuff" pitcher, so hes not likely an injury candidate, but only 8 starts? Wierd. I checked on some of Pecotas team win projections for 2014, and they were way off on quite a few.

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    I'm sorry if this is a repeat, but I think my first post failed to make it through.

    I'm confused how they can take an educated guess on LaStella receiving a lot of PA at 3B and not realize that Bryant will accumulate way more than 200 PA.

  • Something tells me you are pumped up about this organization, John. Pretty quiet day and you are cranking out the info. I like Mike P's take above. Too conservative on big guys and 82 wins has me thinking big.

  • In reply to Greggie Jackson:

    Ha! I didn't expect Law and PECOTA today, so I made this day busier than it had to be.

  • The 2015 season will be a lot of fun, and the Cubs are only beginning to scratch the surface at the big league level.... I don't think the Cardinals will score 709 runs next season.

  • Wow. That was a fun year. I'm sure everyone tried their best. Let's move on to 2016. 

  • This is cool, but isn't it likely the case that PECOTA has inefficient lineups for the other teams too? I seriously doubt the Cubs are the only team missing a few potential WAR here.

    Either way, it's always great to see some quantitative evidence that we're playoff contenders.

  • In reply to Lundy:

    There are, the last line was just tongue in cheek.

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    Pennants are won in April so they say.. while I understand keeping k bryant down for a few weeks, it's hard not to think that his value may be worth 1 or 2 games over Olt, Alcantara or whoever man's third base.. I get it, but don't necessarily like it. It could be the difference between October baseball or watching the Cards play....again..

  • In reply to Jeff Sullivan:

    Write this down. 'I will cut off my left pinky finger with a hacksaw if the Cubs don't lose two extra games because Bryant is in Iowa until mid-late April'. Sign below this, get it notarized, and send it to the Cubs Den headquarters.

  • In reply to Greggie Jackson:

    Pictures?

  • In reply to Jeff Sullivan:

    He is not worth one or two wins over 9 ganes. It would mean he is an 18 win player over the course of a season. Even Mike Trout or in prime Pujols were worth 10 wins.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I agree wit you John. Bryant might become great, but it is hard to believe he will play at an 18 WAR clip his 1st week in the bigs. Start the 'save the pinkie' campaign.

  • In reply to Jeff Sullivan:

    I thought it was pennants aren't won in April but can be lost then.

  • In reply to Gunther Dabynsky:

    Have to agree with this assessment Gunther.

  • John, can you explain a couple things for someone unfamiliar with PECOTA?

    How can PECOTA be predicting 2.0 WARP in just 199 PAs for Bryant? Doesn't that suggest a ridiculous 6.0 WARP if he had a full season's worth of PAs?

    Also, Jon Lester at 2.2 WARP? And Arrieta barely worth a win? While Hendricks is worth 1 win in only 68 innings?

  • Pecota isn't very bright is he.. his projections seem very bias, he must be from st. Louis.. anybody who follows the cubs knows this projections are way off.. bryant will play plenty more then what he projected and will hit about 30 hrs. Rizzo will hit about 8 more homers and bat for about 25 points higher, Hendricks will win about 10 games pitching 180 innings.. they will win there division, cardinals will likely get a wild card..

  • I really like the photo you use for this story. Kind of a mst3k feel to it.
    cubs are a very difficult team to project. But the general trend is good.

  • how pecota is calculated.. fyi

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PECOTA

  • In reply to CubfanInUT:

    Appreciate this. Makes a lot more sense now.

  • I think it's hilarious that the Cards and the Cubs now have the same debt to value ratio. The Cubs have been reducing their's since 2011 while the Cards keeps escalating. Wait till Redbird Nation starts griping about their team's spending.

  • I won't be surprised if the Cubs go 82-80 or if they go 92-70 - there are too many variables to predict with any accuracy. That said, I see Bryant and Hendricks getting much more playing time. What we don't know is how quickly everyone will adapt. Will Bryant hit right away? Will AA and La Stella suddenly get it, or will we see a few more months of last September's performance? Will Arietta backslide some? Has Soler figured it out, or will pitchers figure HIM out? Throw in the inevitable injury or two, and, who knows?

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    Well that's kind of it isn't it? I understand the PECOTA record for accuracy but they aren't always accurate or people would be cleaning up in Vegas. Basically what they're telling me here is what I can see, based on the usual mix of some things going very right and other things going wrong this is a .500 ballclub. The goal of any team moving into contention (meaning not a team that's loaded for bear and who are not hopeful but expecting the postseason) is to be competitive into July when they can assess and tweak the roster. For this team that's more important than ever because with this farm system they could make a major move that will affect everything. No computer projection system can predict that and that's why they play seasons. Like all the other predictions that are flying around it all comes down to this; the Cubs could win 90 games, or they could win 80. That's a whole lot better than hoping everything thing goes right for a chance to win 75 right? Is it opening day yet?

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    I kook at it simple, Cliff. 3 weeks of Jorge Soler last year was better than 3 months of Nate Sheerholes. 2 months of Javier Baez and AA were better than 4 months of Darwin Barney. Jon Lester is far better than EJax or T Wood, one of who wont be starting. I see the Cubs as about an 85 win team, but most of these Pecota projections make little sense.The Kyle Hendricks and Jorge Solers I saw last year looked like real ballplayers.

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    I'm in total agreement, and FWIW, I'm optimistic about 2015. My only point is that it's easier to make predictions for a team that's coming in with almost the same lineup they had last year. There's so much that's new about the Cubs for 2015 that's it's nearly impossible to predict. We THINK Bryant will adapt quickly, Soler will stay hot, AA and La Stella will hit like we know they can. We should, however, be prepared for a few bumps in the road. Personally, I feel like the PECOTA forecast is on the pessimistic side.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    Cliff, if Soler and Bryant are league-average players in 20125, they are a vast improvement over Darwin Barney, Nate Sheerholes, Sweeney, or Ruggiano. Montero is certainly an improvement over Baker. Theres no Jeff Spellcheck this yr, but his w/l record with us was still 2-7, mostly due to a lack of offense. Fowler alone improves us there, not to mention what Bryant and Soler bring to the table.

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    While I'm very confused by the Hendricks and Bryant lack of play projections- I'm just as confused by the subtle regression for both Castro and Rizzo in raw power numbers. If they are projecting a full season out of those 2 and project a lineup around them that will be getting on base more and hitting for more power- I am confused by the decrease? Castro, specifically seemed to be adapting to his physical maturity which makes me think, along w the line-up around him 15-18 hr's is not out of question by any means- at least you'd think he'd be matching last years total. I won't question how they calculate everything but I'd think there is a lot of room for increase from rizzo and Castro- if those were over/unders I'd be jumping all over some of those numbers

  • In reply to David McKenzie:

    An algorithm, no matter how based it is in human input, is not going to look at the jump in Rizzo and Castro last year and not project for a small regression. It makes sense. It also makes sense having watched them and listening to their excitement about this season that they will actually improve as opposed to regressing to the mean. Hope springs eternal.

  • In reply to David McKenzie:

    I was confused on the Rizzo comp, as well. Looking at the algorithm it appears that it takes into effect previous seasons and similar player progressions. Considering how bad Rizzo and Castro were in 2013, the PECOTA projections for him this year make a little more sense.

    It sounds like those two alone would give us a fairly decent shot at making up the difference needed to make the playoffs this year.

  • In reply to KC Cubs Fan:

    I am not sure but I think PECOTA uses the last 2 or 3 years. So that why the comp is low.

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    In reply to KGallo:

    If they do take 3-4 seasons into account--which would be good in most instances as it would prevent wild trajectories from an exceptionally good/bad season--may explain some of their predictions. With someone like Bryant he has 1 full season (and a partial season) of professional baseball's worth of data all the way from Rookie League to AAA. He has dominated all along but I am guessing that PECOTA takes minor league numbers, especially low minor league numbers, with a significant grain of salt. I am guessing that it couldn't make a prediction based on so little data so it simply forecasted relatively few PAs. I am intrigued that in only 199 ABs he had a full 2 WARP. Rather than worrying about the number of ABs they forecast for him I am focusing on the rate at which he is accumulating WARP and am very pleased. That is a 5-6 WARP player over the course of a full season. I can live with that for league minimum salary and a 23 year old.

    The Cubs are likely the kind of team that PECOTA will struggle with in their forecast. Simply, they have lots of guys likely to get a lot of playing time that have very little mlb data to go by. Conversely they have players with lots of data but likely to get relatively little playing time.

    As several have pointed out it is very difficult to say what players like Baez, Alcantara, La Stella will do. They might suddenly "get it" and take off. They might struggle and bounce back and forth between AAA and mlb for the whole season.

    Players like Coghlan pose a different problem. He was a ROY winner with solid production 6 years ago. The ability is there but the production was not for several seasons. Was last year a "break out," a return to good production that can be sustained, or just a "blip" season? Arrieta was good since being acquired by the Cubs, but before that was a long stretch of mediocrity. Predicting players with such volatile histories--very little mlb data to draw from or recent history of good/bad--is very hard so I am going to take these predictions with a large grain of salt.

    As someone else also said, predicting Rizzo/Castro presents some of the same problems. We have a decent number of PAs for them but their 2013 performances were so bad over a large sample that it would be irresponsible to simply pretend they don't exist. Predicting a regression based on those is far from illogical. I think 2014 was a better indicator of their ability but I can certainly be mistaken.

    Some player that I would be interested to see their predictions for would be Fowler (I am not a prospectus member) as he has had fairly stable production for several years. I would guess that PECOTA has a very realistic projection for him. Montero and Ross as well. Very possibly Olt and Lake, though, again, relatively little MLB data to go from.

    I am also surprised by another player that PECOTA should pick well: Lester. He has a mountain of data compiled at MLB level so I am concerned that they don't predict a more dominant season from him.

    I don't have a good understanding of how exactly PECOTA works. Does it come up with a W-L record and then simply back into WARP or does it come up with WARP numbers and then compute the W-L record?

  • I had us at 89 wins before we grabbed Fowler. This team was practically playing .500 ball for four months despite moving their two best pitchers after one of those four, despite a mediocre manager, despite giving trials to a lot if rookies. Now we are vastly improved, and very deep.

    And let's face it - If Edwin starts, he will have to be lights-out. Otherwise, he will simply be gone.

  • In reply to HackWilson09:

    I don't need Jackson to be light out. If he gives close to 200 innings, 4.00 FIP, and is 10-10 that will be good for the #5 slot. If Montero can't fix him, one of Wood, Wada, Dubrount, Turner will be OK too. I am pretty happy with Lester, Arrieta, Hammel, and Hendricks in the first 4 slots. Our rotation is in pretty good shape.

  • In reply to John57:

    Id take Travis Wood, 2013 out of EJax. If he becomes a decent 6 inning pitcher who can make 32 starts, hes worth his $.

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    I was also a little surprised at the low projections for both Rizzo and Castro (especially Rizzo). I get the regression thing, but why wouldn't they take age into account? When you are talking about 24-25 year olds emerging with big seasons, why would you then assume they would go back to who they were while they were learning instead of them entering their prime?
    If it's a 33 year old who suddenly has a career year, then yeah, probably regress that to their previously established norm, but with young stars entering their prime (through Arrieta in there as well), why not weigh the most recent season a little heavier then the previous ones?
    Especially once you consider the fact that they will be surrounded by better talent this year, you've got to know those projections are very low.

  • I am pretty sure its the annual baseball book that has made the point over the years that the hardest think to know is how much playing time to assign rookie and veterans coming back form injuries.

    On top of that variable, it is hard to know if there will be roster changes during the course of the year.

    I know its fun to dream about the endless possibilities, but I think its a bit of a fools errand to try ad project a teams record in any given year.

    I sure if one took the time to compare various projections to actual outcomes over the years, I would think the any one groups track record would be pretty awful.

  • First time commenter, long time reader (long time Cub fan too, dating back to '68). John, I know this sounds weird, but I feel like I already know you! You do a great job, as do the other staff members.

    One comment... As the Cubs progress, I hope they don't bring all their prospects in and force several players to play out of position. My hope is that Addison Russell plays SS, Kris Bryant plays 3B and Javy Baez plays 2B. This would mean trading Starlin Castro, possibly next offseason. I like Castro, but I don't like the idea of shuffling players around just to get their bats in the lineup. This hurts the team defensively, in my opinion.

    I live in NY State, so I'll need to buy the MLB package this year to get the Cubs games. I'll miss the WGN broadcasts.

  • In reply to JHickman1969:

    I think I was once like you in thinking we have too many middle infielders with above average projected bats. However with PEDs gone, depth, durability, and flexibility is going to be a HUGE advantage. Plus right now the Cubs are at an advantage because they have accumulated depth so they don't have to press the rookies.
    I'm with you on the wgn front. Sports entertainment has become a giant and will keep reaping the bunnies until we stop shopping down their aisle. Best thing I found to do is get basic cable or antenna and stream everything else. I like my roku.

  • In reply to JHickman1969:

    Thank you.

    As far as shuffling players, it happens much more often than we think, especially when you focus on middle of field players, who can move anywhere pretty seamlessly. Russell will have no trouble adapting to 2B or 3B and may be Gold Glove quality at those positions. As for Bryant, I don't believe he is a 3B long term because of his size, as he reaches physical maturation in his mid to late 20s, he'll fill out and likely have to move. So the question becomes whether you want to move him in 2016 or do you keep him there as long as you can. I think that will depend on what happens in 2015. the Cubs may well find Castro to be a key part of their lineup, not to mention he gives them long term security because of his contract.

    I am sure the Cubs see their situation as fluid right now and much will depend on how players progress at the MLB and minor league level. They have a lot of options on how to fit all these pieces together. We should take that as a good thing rather than having to count on one particular outcome.

  • I'm banking on the reds, and Milwaukee being dumpster fires this year. Whoever between, st. Louis, Pittsburgh, and the Cubs can take advantage of those series, will win the division.

  • In reply to cub since 89′:

    I'll never hate the Reds and Brewers and their fans as much as the Cardinals, but it will be nice to see both of those teams shit the bed this year. Brewers fans in particular have become nearly unbearable as they prattle on constantly about how the Cubs haven't won a World Series in however many years.

  • In reply to cub since 89′:

    It’s probably just my perception but it seems like when the Cubs beat up on the Pirates, they have a good season. If they don’t, they won’t. The Reds are probably the 2nd barometer. They usually hold their own vs the Cards and Brewers.

  • Pecota had the Cubs at 71 wins last year and we beat them by 2 games. I think they are underestimating us by more this year.

  • In reply to Oneear:

    Pecotas w/l projections last year were not that good. The C ubs were actually one of there better projections in 2014, but they had some really bad opnes, like the Rox with 78w in 2014(actual 66) and the Snakes with 80w(64). They were far from "lights-out" last year.

  • It looks like a lot of bad (i.e. making the Cubs roster weaker) assumptions were made and the Cubs are still projected above .500. That’s about all I can take from this. I have to assume bad assumptions were made for other teams as well, although the Cubs are probably more in flux than most teams.

  • In reply to Ed Vajcner:

    I think it isn't so much bad is they have to make those decisions objectively, based on patterns and historical trends. If you want to make an objective projection, you can't make subjective assumptions about playing time. They'll just go with the typical amount of playing time a player with Bryant's or Hendricks' experience gets in the majors. PECOTA has been pretty accurate as far as predicting team records so even if the exact particulars may differ from what we believe will happen, that across the board objectivity is what makes them so accurate.

  • If this team is competitive at the break, I would say that there is a very good chance that they pick up a TOR rental for the back half of the year. They have the prospect depth and the $, and there should be a few available. i just hope they don't have another awful april to start the year.

  • Quick question to the group.

    How does one add a picture to his Cubs Den account settings?

  • In reply to JK1969:

    As for me, I did it through the administrative part of the website, but as readers, I believe you have to sign in through your Facebook account to be able to use a picture.

  • In reply to JK1969:

    As a new member of the group, I'd like to know how to add a picture, too.

  • In reply to JHickman1969:

    Try going to
    Chicago now.com/chicagonow-onboarding/

    Scroll down to Basic Startup Info

  • In reply to JK1969:

    That's the reason I don't have a picture - have intentionally NOT crosslinked my Facebook account with my 'Chicago Now' account.

    Get too many posts on Facebook (most that I ignore anyway) already and didn't need more there.

  • Well that's too bad, since I do not do Facebook.

    Way too much trouble

    Thanks

  • In reply to JK1969:

    Understood. I was talked into a Facebook account a few years ago by a friend who was leaving to live abroad. I still have it, but I have to confess I don't use it all that much. I do have a Cubs Den page there, so I do use that from time to time.

  • Got my Baseball Prospectus yesterday, but the print size is approaching OED levels. Maybe they'll start including the magnifying glass, as the OED does.

  • In reply to wthomson:

    Ha! I have yet to get mine, will have to wait this year.

  • Law just listed Bryant as top prospect in baseball, Russell #3, Soler #14, and Schwarber #90.....saying he has little chance to catch in the bigs. I think he'll be wrong on Schwarber.

  • In reply to corleone:

    Wow Even if Schwarber doesn't stick at catcher, his bat is elite where ever he plays. That alone should put him in the top 30, maybe higher. Does he penalize guys like Sano who probably won't stay at 3B?

  • In reply to corleone:

    I do not necessarily agree his stature will limit his catching ability. there have been other stout/solid catchers. On those 90 degree plus days in summer, trust me you want that muscle to power thru the drain of the heat. I think the challenge is to let him only catch about 120 games a year with maybe 20+ games as DH/LF.

    Due to work ethic and desire, I think he has the passion to make it happen. It is now if he can make the necessary adjustments and fine tuning on receiving and framing that will be the key to him sticking at C.

  • In reply to corleone:

    I don't agree much with Keith Law... Ever... But he was absolutely right about Vogelbach and Matt Szczur with his assessments when I thought he was wrong.

  • In reply to Caps:

    I was never high on Szczur.

  • In reply to Caps:

    But he will be wrong with Schwarber. He also didn't like Bryant much. Wrong there too. Vogelbach is still developing, that call is incomplete. It is just one opinion. Can't really get bent out of shape with it.

  • In reply to John57:

    Vogelbomb , in comparison to league-avg in the FSL, was not that bad last year. Had a terrible start, yet ended up in the top10 in every offensive category. his K/bb was 104-82, which is fairly good for a power hitter in a pitchers league. I agree VBomb is not in Schwarbers league as a hitter, but hes certainly not a bust yet.

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    I really think Rizzo is a 30+ HR hitter yearly. Castro should probably increase his hr output and equal or better his average. Bryant should get at least 400 PA's, barring injuries. Conversely Baez will take the time he needs to refine his approach, therefore less HR's 1n 2015. Soler wasn't even mentioned. That I believe is a big omission, probably the best approach with good power(I think the best RFer on the team, maybe ROY. If Jackson doesn't have VERY strong turn around he will be in the BP or gone. If Hendricks is anything close to the above mentioned projections WATCH OUT.. He could also vie for ROY with those stats and Bryant could also be in the running. I also see a strong bullpen It must always be stated "barring injuries" . Could be a strong contender. Let the games begin in April.

  • In reply to John Rose:

    It is a projection. Again, projections are like a road map. It is basically saying that right now, this is about where the Cubs will be. It is not being subjective in it's analysis of Bryant's playing time or performance. As John said, it is looking at historical trends. So it will treat Rizzo's 2014 power #s as the anomaly until he replicates them again this next year. And it should. We're subjectively assuming the best about the players (that Rizzo's 2014 was the start of an upward, sustainable trend; Castro will only continue to improve, Bryant will come up and be an above average rookie & play a lot; Hendricks, Arrieta, and the bullpen at least repeat last year's success; Soler will stay healthy; etc). And if we're right on most or all of that, the team will probably be in the playoffs.

    John selectively mentioned players. That doesn't mean that Pecota didn't account for Soler in its projection.

    And Hendricks can't vie for ROY as he is no longer a rookie.

  • In reply to John Rose:

    Last April our "closer" was Jose Veras, who couldnt close the barn door on a windless plain. Hector Rondon was pretty good last year, Grimm came on after the all-star break, and NRam held RH hitters to a .170 BA. Not having Veras alone is worth 2-3 wins .

  • Based off the title, I was ready to comment (a bit tongue-in-cheek) that I guess we'd have to sign Shields, but after reading through the bullet points, I have the feeling that if their projections are fairly accurate combined with things we can pretty much say won't be true (that Jackson gets to pitch enough to be a -0.7 WAR player, Hendricks only starts 7 games, and especially Bryant only getting 200 PAs) the Cubs should easily squeak out an extra win or three.

  • Off topic, I received my Sports Illustrated in the mail to day. Ernie is on the cover. Probably just the midwest issues and with the Super Bowl teams from the coasts, but still pretty cool.

    (I only get SI because it was essentially a freebie throw in when my wife was subscribing to something else.)

  • Hey everyone! Anyone here from the "alternative" site that stopped working? :-)

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