Evaluating the Cubs likely lineup

It's hard to believe that February is here, which means pitchers and catchers will be reporting to Mesa in a couple weeks. The position players won't be far behind. It's particularly hard to believe because the Cubs didn't have an active offseason. Not once have I actually looked forward to watching Cubs baseball. I have looked forward to watching baseball, but not baseball played by Chicago. I'll watch though. Maybe I'll even get excited for Cubs baseballa and the new and improved Cubs Way by the time spring training games begin.

The first thing we need to do is come up with a lineup. We will look at at the optimized lineup, but there's little chance any manager in baseball is going to use that lineup. The first thing we need to do is come up with a realistic lineup. We also need to consider off days and/or platoons. The Cubs starters at this point are Geovany Soto, Bryan LaHair, Darwin Barney, Ian Stewart, Starlin Castro, Alfonso Soriano, Marlon Byrd and David DeJesus.

Vs. Righties

  1. David DeJesus
  2. Darwin Barney (shouldn't be the number 2 hitter, but probably will be)
  3. Starlin Castro
  4. Bryan LaHair
  5. Geovany Soto
  6. Marlon Byrd
  7. Ian Stewart
  8. Alfonso Soriano

Vs Lefties

  1. Darwin Barney
  2. Starlin Castro
  3. Geovany Soto
  4. Alfonso Soriano
  5. Marlon Byrd
  6. Bryan LaHair
  7. Ian Stewart
  8. David DeJesus

That's good enough for me and probably not too unlike the lineups we'll see this year with a couple exceptions: off days and platoons. It's very possible we see David DeJesus platooned in RF. It's even more likely we'll see some type of lineup that gets Jeff Baker in there vs lefties. I wouldn't be too surprised to see Soriano lose playing time vs righties to Dave Sappelt, Tony Campana or eventually Brett Jackson (Byrd shifting to LF).

Calculating split projections is rather easy. The Book gave us the information necessary to do so and Berselius created a spreadsheet a couple years that accomplished it in a simple manner. CAIRO uses that took to provide splits projections. You can check out the Cubs splits projections here.

We'll eventually calculate BaseRuns in another post, but we'll start with simple wRC to get an estimate of runs scored.

Vs. R wOBA wRC   Vs. L wOBA wRC
David DeJesus 0.345 54   Darwin Barney 0.311 21
Darwin Barney 0.292 35   Starlin Castro 0.351 28
Starlin Castro 0.326 47   Geovany Soto 0.359 29
Bryan LaHair 0.343 53   Alfonso Soriano 0.341 26
Geovany Soto 0.329 48   Marlon Byrd 0.333 25
Marlon Byrd 0.318 44   Bryan LaHair 0.311 21
Ian Stewart 0.321 45   Ian Stewart 0.321 23
Alfonso Soriano 0.321 45   David DeJesus 0.306 20
Pitcher 0.175 -1   Pitcher 0.175 -1
Total   370   Total   191

I used 400 PA for each player vs righties and 200 vs lefties. PItchers were given a total of 200 PA. That's a total of 561 runs scored, but there are approximately 1000 plate appearances remaining. We can bump the 561 up to 650. We're not looking for precise numbers yet. We couldn't get those with wRC anyway. This is just a simple estimate.

It's in line with the latest CAIRO projected standings too.

Vs. Righties

DeJesus is the best hitter the Cubs have when a right-handed pitcher is on the mound. I'm hoping he leads off against them. I'm also hoping he gets a lot of days off vs lefties. Barney shouldn't even be playing vs righties and probably  not even vs lefties, but I've heard Theo, Hoyer and Sveum talk about him as if he's the starter. There's even the possibility that he may lead off, which would be scary. Welcome to 2003-2006.

Castro could hit anywhere from leadoff to 6th against righties and I expect he'll hit in a lot of different spots. The same is likely true of Soriano, Byrd, Stewart and Soto.

Vs. Lefties

Soto and Castro are the two best hitters the Cubs have vs lefties. If Castro begins to develop more power I'd like him hitting 2nd, but if his power remains what it's been I think he'd be a good leadoff candidate vs lefties. There's a big drop off after those two. Soriano is at .341 and Byrd is above average at .333, but the rest are below average.

In year's past the Cubs had a lineup that could destroy lefties, but that's not true this year. They're a little better vs lefties than righties, but not much better. The Cubs have added some left handed bats that the team lacked in previous years so their strength vs lefties is somewhat diminished. They have improved against righties though.

Tomorrow we'll look at BaseRuns and get a more accurate runs scored projection.