Where Will the Cubs’ Wins Come From?

Let’s take a closer look at the Cubs in 2012. I’m going to include the projected starters for 2012 (if they are still on the team) in green, and the players no longer expected to make the opening 25 in red. Bench players are in blue.

C
Castillo 1.2
Soto 0.5
Recker 0.2
Hill -0.1
Lalli -0.4

Clevenger -0.7

1B 
Rizzo 1.8
LaHair 0.7

2B 
Barney 2.5
Cardenas -0.2
DeWitt -0.4

SS
Castro 3.3

3B
Valbuena 0.9
Stewart 0.1
Vitters -1.2

RF
DeJesus 1.7
Johnson 1.0
Sappelt 0.9
Baker 0.0

CF
Campana 0.6
Jackson 0.2
Byrd -0.8
Mather -1.5


LF
Soriano 4.0

Pitching
Shark 3.3
Dempster 2.1
Maholm 1.4

Garza 1.2
Russell 0.7
Wood 0.7
Germano 0.6
Camp 0.6
Marmol 0.2

Volstad 0.2
Rusin 0.1
Chapman 0.1
Cabrera 0.1
Maine 0.0
Berken 0.0
Bowden 0.0
Socolovich 0.0
Lopez -0.1
Ascencio -0.1
Wells -0.1
Castillo -0.2
Parker -0.2
Wood -0.3
Coleman -0.3
Raley -0.4

Beliveau -0.4
Corpas -0.5
Hinshaw -0.6
Dolis -0.6

That’s 23.5 WAR on the team with a backup infielder, a backup catcher, a starting RF, 2 starters, and 3 relievers left to add. That also assumes each player will repeat their 2011 performance (which clearly won’t happen).

The Cubs have addressed their RF hole with Nate Schierholtz (1.5 WAR), their C hole with Dioner Navarro, (0.4 WAR) and their 2 starters with Baker and Feldman (2.8 WAR and 2.3 WAR, respectively). The 3 relievers (in my estimation) are Fujikawa, McNutt, and one guy that isn’t on the radar yet, and same goes with the infielder. Fujikawa and McNutt will (in my estimation, again) are good for 1.0 and 0.5 WAR next year, and I’m assuming the infielder and last reliever will combine for 1.0 WAR. That’s another 9.5 WAR there. Add the 25 man together and you start with 33.0 WAR.

Add all of that together, and the jump-off point for the 2012 season is 76 wins. However, as I said, that isn’t likely to be the case. Let’s bring the 25 players together with their 2011 WAR (2012 predictions in green):
Castillo 1.2 2.0
Rizzo 1.8 3.5
Barney 2.5 2.5
Castro 3.3 4.0
Stewart 0.1 1.0
Soriano 4.0 2.5
DeJesus 1.7 2.0
Schierholtz 1.5 1.5
Navarro 0.4 0.5 
Valbuena 0.9 1.0
UTIL #3 0.5 0.5
Sappelt 0.9 0.7
Campana 0.6 0.8
Garza 1.2 3.0
Samardzija 3.3 3.5
Feldman 2.3 3.0
Baker 2.8 2.5
Wood 0.7 1.5
Marmol 0.2 1.0
Fujikawa 1.0 1.0
Russell 0.7 0.7
Camp 0.6 0.5
McNutt 0.5 0.5
Beliveau -0.4 0.5
RP #7 0.5 0.5

That’s 40.7 WAR right now, which turns the team into a 83.7 win club.

Before you get the pitchforks, hear me out. This assumes that only these 25 players play for the Cubs this year. Clearly, there will be some trades and injuries. Think of this as a “best injury case scenario.” It’s also clearly possible that some players will collapse/explode.

It also identifies quite a few places we can upgrade. For example, 3B is projected to get a single win from it’s starter. No outfield position is good for more than 2.5 WAR, and there are always top-flight outfielders available (for tons of money) in free agency. We have no stud pitchers, either. If we were able to find a 2.5 WAR 3B, and a 2.5 WAR RF, and another 2.5 WAR pitcher, that’s 5 wins for the team for players the equivalent of Darwin Barney. These are options that shouldn’t be too hard, or too expensive, to find.

I don’t think the Cubs are playoff-bound this year, but I also don’t think that they are completely terrible. They were sunk by some terrible performances like Clevenger and Mather, when in reality they should be getting replacement-level performances from those players. I feel confident that even if the Cubs trade off an asset or two, they’ll hover around 73-76 wins this season, which is a lot better than 61.

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