OV's Projected Playing Time for the 2012 Cubs

On Saturday I published this year's playing time survey and more than 50 of you took the time to fill it out. Thanks for taking the time. I'm going to go ahead and publish the results here. I didn't make any adjustments to the batters because you guys pretty much nailed it as far as position and team totals go. I did make some small adjustments to the pitchers as our total was more than a couple hundred innings shy of what a team will pitch each year. There was no reason to increase it to 1450 innings as most of the remaining innings you didn't project would be taken up by replacement level players anyway. But I did do a little adjusting by bumping each starter's projected total up a bit by a different perentage increase than I used for relievers. Overall, I added just 100 innings spread among all the players so it's not a big deal.

Player Projected PA
Starlin Castro 609
David DeJesus 504
Ian Stewart 453
Darwin Barney 448
Marlon Byrd 438
Alfonso Soriano 436
Geovany Soto 436
Bryan LaHair 388
Jeff Baker 221
Brett Jackson 200
Anthony Rizzo 190
Blake DeWitt 158
Welington Castillo 140
Joe Mather 126
Tony Campana 124
Steve Clevenger 120
Dave Sappelt 84

There's really only one player that stands out to me: Marlon Byrd. I'm guessing some of the reason he's as low as it is (438) is because you guys are expecting him to be traded. That's probably a pretty good guess. Since we've been publishing these surveys (since 2008), I don't think I had ever projected someone to get more than 600 plate appearances until this year (Castro).

This was also the first year I projected so many plate appearances to be spread among several different players. It appears we're thinking the same thing in that Jackson and Rizzo will get some playing time at some point, but not all that much. They won't get an insiginficant amount of playing time, but they're not going to be the primary player at their position until much later in the season. One thing I thought was interesting though, was that LaHair is projected to have 388 PA and Rizzo 190. It's the one position that doesn't add up, but then I realized that I have been assuming Jeff Baker is going to play at 1st base against most of the lefties. Maybe that doesn't happen early on in the season, but at some point I'm thinking Baker takes over for LaHair vs lefties.

Soto's projected PA are right in line with what I was thinking, but it's also interesting that nobody could settle on a back-up catcher. Castillo is projected to get the bulk of the back-up work, but only 20 more PA than Clevenger.

Joe Mather 126 PA? It does appear he has locked up the spot on the team, but other than Byrd that number surprised me the most.

Personally, I think the overall total for DeJesus is a bit off. He has 900 PA over the last couple years though he did bat more than 550 times each of the three previous seasons. I had hiim at somewhere between 401-450, but closer to the 401 total. DeJesus can't hit lefties (.308 career wOBA, 83 wRC+). I'll admit that I don't really know who is going to take those PA vs lefties, but at some point I think someone will. I also think he's an injury waiting to happen. That's just me. It's clear I had different expectations than the rest of you so I wouldn't bet on my expectations being correct. If I was betting, I'd bet on these.

Player Projected IP
Matt Garza 193
Ryan Dempster 188
Paul Maholm 165
Chris Volstad 155
Randy Wells 138
Jeff Samardzija 122
Travis Wood 80
Carlos Marmol 65
Kerry Wood 51
James Russell 51
Casey Coleman 40
Trey McNutt 38
Marcos Mateo 35
Rafael Dolis 33
Scott Maine 29

No surprise to see Garza atop the list in projected innings. The projections were also set up in a way that we'd not end up with projections over 200 innings. If you think so and so is going to pitch 200 innings I'm certainly not going to argue with you, but I feel a 200 inning projetion is about like projecting a batter to get 725 PA. It happens. Sometimes it happens regularly, but there are just too many things that get in the way. Especially for pitchers.

For example, in Garza's best season in his career (last year), he threw only 194 IP. Pitching 200 innings just isn't something you can expect in my opinion.

There's also little surprise seeing the drop off after Garza and Dempster. Maholm is coming off an injury, Volstad isn't all that good, Wells is about to be given the Cubs Special Bullpen Test and most of you think there's little chance Samardzija remains in the rotation for that long. Speaking of Samardzija, I set up a separate survey for him when it became clear he was going to get some starts to begin the season. I took the numbers from that survey for Samardzija's total here.

I am a little surprised to see Marmol with just 65 innings, but not surprised to see Wood pitching just 51. Sean Marshall had been a reliever the last couple years I felt comfortable projecting 75 innings out of. I did project between 71-80 for Marmol, but certainly expected closer to 71.

It says something about our expectations of James Russell as a pitcher to see him getting 51 projected innings. Or it says something about the Cubs lack of pitching, particularly from the left side in the bullpen. I'm going with the latter because for the most part, that list of relievers is about as unimpressive a list as I've seen in a Cubs uniform in a long time. That said, I'd much rather pay league minimum for a guy like Mateo or Dolis than big money for someone who isn't Mariano Rivera.

Not that it matters, but in the next few days I'm going to look back at our past playing time projections and see how we did. I know for a fact we failed miserably in 2009, but that team missed expectations by about 10 to 15 wins. We can't predict an injury. We know who is more likely to get injured, but injuries happen to all the players. All we can really do is project how the manager is going to use the players and with a new manager that's more difficult than before.

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