Cubs' Steamer Projections

While we wait for Tanaka to make a decision between choosing the Yankees today, or choosing the Yankees tomorrow, I took a look at how our offense performed relative to the league at each prediction. I then looked at who was projected to get the bulk of the starts at each position, and compared their Steamer projection to last year's averages.

  BA OBP SLG wOBA
C 0.245 0.31 0.388 0.307
1B 0.254 0.332 0.43 0.333
2B 0.257 0.316 0.376 0.305
SS 0.254 0.308 0.367 0.298
3B 0.256 0.317 0.398 0.314
LF 0.252 0.32 0.399 0.317
CF 0.258 0.324 0.395 0.317
RF 0.261 0.324 0.419 0.325

These are the averages from last year. Here's the primary starter last year as of season's end last year, and their slash lines:

2013 P AVG BA OBP SLG wOBA difference
Castillo 0.274 0.349 0.397 0.331 0.024
Rizzo 0.233 0.323 0.419 0.325 -0.008
Barney 0.208 0.266 0.303 0.252 -0.053
Castro 0.245 0.284 0.347 0.28 -0.018
Valbuena 0.218 0.331 0.378 0.315 0.001
Lake 0.284 0.332 0.428 0.335 0.018
Sweeney 0.266 0.324 0.448 0.337 0.02
Schierholtz 0.251 0.301 0.47 0.331 0.006

Now, that doesn't tell the whole story. Soriano played a lot more often than Lake did, and it also ignores the backups for each position. To get a slightly clearer picture (only slightly clearer because FanGraphs can not sort by actual starts at each position – instead, it puts the FULL stats of anyone who played appreciably at any position), here's the slash by position, instead:

C 0.039
1B -0.008
2B -0.062
SS -0.018
3B 0.005
LF 0.004
CF 0.002
RF -0.018
Total -0.056
AVG -0.007

That means that the average wOBA, team-wide, was 7 points lower than the major league average. This doesn't exactly match to the actual difference of 10 points between the league wOBA (.314) and the Cubs' wOBA (.304), but it'll work for my purposes.

Next, I took the Steamer projections for the same 8 players (sadly, the team did not make literally a single upgrade to the offense this offseason so far).

    BA OBP SLG wOBA  
C Castillo 0.255 0.328 0.414 0.326 0.019
1B Rizzo 0.268 0.35 0.501 0.367 0.034
2B Barney 0.248 0.3 0.344 0.285 -0.02
SS Castro 0.277 0.32 0.411 0.319 0.021
3B Valbuena 0.24 0.326 0.383 0.315 0.001
LF Lake 0.258 0.307 0.396 0.309 -0.008
CF Sweeney 0.269 0.331 0.401 0.322 0.005
RF Schierholtz 0.256 0.314 0.432 0.324 -0.001
Total           0.051
AVG           0.006375

As you can see, Steamer is relatively optimistic essentially across the board. There are minor regressions from Lake, Sweeney, Schierholtz, and Castillo, but Steamer (and most projections) are very bullish on Castro's ability to bounce back, and it foresees similar leaps forward from Rizzo and Barney. I will say that if Barney doesn't take those leaps, he'll be replaced, and essentially anyone who replaces him will provide the .285 wOBA he's projected to hit (and probably a bit more). 

All told, these projections would have us at 6 points above average, offensively. I'm definitely not buying that, especially because we were only supposed to be 7 point below last year and we were actually 10. We also will undoubtedly lose some of these starters to injury and/or ineffectiveness. On the whole, though, I think the makeup of our team is ideal for some natural improvement. As constituted, the team has a chance to be average offensively, and I'd confidently peg them as just a whisper or two below.

 

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