Projecting the 2012 Cubs: Left Field

We've yet to show the projections for any of the outfielders and since I've been going around the horn, we'll start with left field. I'm breaking this into four posts: one for each position and then one for the backups.

Despite a .289 OBP last season, Alfonso Soriano managed to post a .325 wOBA, which was good for league average (99 wRC+). He did this thanks to his .469 slugging. There's reason to be optimistic that last season's OBP was so horrible because of a very low BABIP. Last year it was .266 and in his career it's been .301. Soriano no longer has the speed he once had so we can't expect him to continue to do that, but we're not likely to see it at .266 either. If that's true, we should see his OBP rise to the point where it's at least not horrible. It won't be good, but that's better than what it was a year ago.

Let's see if the projections agree with that.

Projection PA H HR BB SO avg obp slg wOBA
CAIRO 463 106 18 34 100 .249 .308 .446 .326
Guru  399  82  17  35  84 .230 .301 .424 .315
ZiPS 484 111 21 31 111 .245 .297 .453 .320
PECOTA 343 82 15 22 77 .254 .304 .459 .326
Oliver 485 105 19 31 102 .236 .289 .426 .308
Bill James 464 109 22 31 109 .252 .308 .469 .330
RotoChamp 490 113 22 32 116 .247 .300 .456 .326
Dav-Marcel 493 110 20 31 110 .237 .291 .429 .309
Steamer 414 93 18 29 95 .245 .301 .455 .335
Marcel 509 113 20 34 114 .241 .295 .595 .312
Average 454 102 19 31 102 .244 .299 .461 .321

Only a slightly improvement, which is then eliminated with a slight decrease in his SLG. Of the number above, it's the plate apperance projection that stands out the most to me. Projection systems project playing time based on previous years so it's unreliable, but I can't help but feel a little sorry for Soriano at this point. I remember back when he was with the Yankees and then even the Rangers and how he played every single day. He had 650+ plate appearances every full season of his career until he joined the Cubs in 2007. He had 617 that season, which surprised me. He hasn't even touched that since. He's 503, 522, 548 and 508 plate appearances in each of the last 4 seasons. The PECOTA and Guru projections seem way off to me, but with these numbers it's entirely possible he's replaced at some point this season. The .321 wOBA is about league average, but it's hard to get past the .299 OBP. That's a lot of outs.

That .321 projection is good for .5 batting WAR. I'd increase it to 500 as I think it's more likely he'll reach that point than not, but it's still .5 batting WAR.

We've yet to add in baserunning or defense. Soriano's baserunning isn't very good at this point in his career. Using UBR from Fangraphs over the last 4 years it's been -2.9, -.8, 1.1 and -3.7. We could take away at least 1 run for baserunning dropping him to .4 WAR. Defense? Well, I generally ignore it in projections, but Soriano is such an interesting case.

The defensive numbers for Soriano have been surprisingly good. That said, I don't think anybody in their right mind would say that Soriano is anything better than average defensively. I'll leave it up to you. If you want to add a couple runs based on the defensive metrics bump him to .6 WAR. If you want to take a handful away drop him to 0. It doesn't much matter. Soriano isn't very good and the more I look at this the more I'm convinced he won't be the Cubs left fielder by the middle of summer.