2015 ZiPS Projections – Chicago Cubs

After having typically appeared in the very hallowed pages of Baseball Think Factory, Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS projections have been released at FanGraphs the past couple years. The exercise continues this offseason. Below are the projections for the Chicago Cubs. Szymborski can be found at ESPN and on Twitter at @DSzymborski.

Other Projections: Arizona / Atlanta / Chicago AL / Cleveland / Colorado / Detroit / Houston / Los Angeles AL / Los Angeles NL / Miami / Milwaukee / Minnesota / New York NL / Oakland / San Diego / San Francisco / St. Louis / Tampa Bay / Washington

Batters
“Why do you hate Jorge Soler?” is a reaction zero people expressed via Twitter on Thursday when the author shared the depth-chart image below by way of that same social-media platform. What certain respondents did note, however, is that they’d take the over on Soler’s 1.0 WAR projection. Which, one comment regarding that: due (presumably) to limited playing time in the past, ZiPS only forecasts Soler for 345 plate appearances in 2015. That’s 1.7 WAR per 600 plate appearances — a substantial figure, that, for a player who’s recorded just a half-season’s worth of games above High-A.

Conspicuous by his absence in that same depth-chart image below is third-base prospect Kris Bryant, who receives the club’s highest projected WAR here, according to ZiPS, and the second-highest by Steamer. Whether he’ll be part of the opening-day roster isn’t really a question ZiPS, being a computer model, is prepared to answer. There appears to be some evidence, however, that when he does appear in the majors, he (i.e. Bryant) will be among the club’s very best field players.

Pitchers
Unsurprisingly, given both his track record and also the millions of dollars with which the Cubs have agreed to remunerate him, Jon Lester receives the most promising projection among the club’s starters by some margin. He’s averaged 207 innings and 4.8 wins per year since 2008. ZiPS forecasts a nearly identical season in 2015: 208.2 IP and 4.6 WAR.

Of some interest with regard to the remaining starters is the relative optimism and then pessimism concerning Kyle Hendricks and Jake Arrieta, respectively. In the case of Hendricks, perhaps it’s precisely what one ought to expect from a projection system. Despite the fact that he sits at just 88 mph, Hendricks has nevertheless limited both walks and home runs throughout his minor-league career. The strength of his projection (165.1 IP, 2.7 WAR) assumes a continuation of this trend. Arrieta, meanwhile, distinguished himself as one of the game’s top pitchers of 2014, finishing 11th among all pitchers by WAR despite the fact that he compiled too few innings (156.2) to qualify. Probably owing to the influence of his other four major-league seasons during which he wasn’t dominant, ZiPS calls for a more regular season from Arrieta (154.1 IP, 2.3 WAR) than one might otherwise expect in light of his excellent 2014.

Bench/Prospects
While Chris Coghlan and Chris Denorfia might form a left-field platoon for the Cubs to begin the season, another possibility is that Arismendy Alcantara receives a large share/all of the playing time there, too. ZiPS gives him the fourth-best projection (645 PA, 2.4 WAR) among all Cubs batters. Outfielder Albert Almora, catcher Rafael Lopez, and shortstop Addison Russell have recorded just 14 major-league plate appearances collectively but are all projected to play at least like a competent bench player beginning in 2015. Among pitchers, neither C.J. Edwards nor Tsuyoshi Wada is expected to break spring training in the rotation, but neither would appear to be wholly unqualified for such a role, either.

Depth Chart
Below is a rough depth chart for the present incarnation of the Cubs, with rounded projected WAR totals for each player. For caveats regarding WAR values see disclaimer at bottom of post. Click to embiggen image.

Cubs Depth

Ballpark graphic courtesy Eephus League. Depth charts constructed by way of those listed here at site and author’s own haphazard reasoning.

Batters, Counting Stats

Player B Age PO PA R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS
Kris Bryant R 23 3B 557 91 126 25 4 29 96 10 4
Anthony Rizzo L 25 1B 651 91 153 33 2 30 94 6 5
Starlin Castro R 25 SS 674 75 180 35 5 15 71 12 7
Arismendy Alcantara B 23 2B 645 83 148 34 9 19 79 25 7
Miguel Montero L 31 C 529 46 110 20 1 12 64 0 2
Javier Baez R 22 SS 650 90 140 30 4 30 90 18 7
Dexter Fowler B 29 CF 526 62 118 19 6 10 39 13 6
Addison Russell R 21 SS 407 50 91 18 3 12 44 10 4
Welington Castillo R 28 C 417 38 92 19 0 12 43 1 0
Albert Almora R 21 CF 576 67 144 28 5 9 59 6 6
Tommy La Stella L 26 2B 459 45 109 22 3 4 46 5 2
Rafael Lopez L 27 C 394 41 83 16 1 5 36 1 1
Jorge Soler R 23 RF 345 51 79 23 3 12 59 3 1
Mike Olt R 26 3B 423 44 78 17 1 16 49 2 1
Kyle Schwarber L 22 LF 591 86 125 30 5 21 98 5 2
Matt Szczur R 25 CF 553 62 127 21 4 4 40 23 9
Christian Villanueva R 24 3B 543 58 116 33 1 12 57 6 7
Chris Denorfia R 34 RF 395 55 94 16 3 6 34 9 3
Ryan Sweeney L 30 CF 266 29 62 13 2 5 26 1 0
Billy McKinney L 20 CF 475 48 102 18 4 8 40 7 3
Logan Watkins L 25 2B 516 61 107 20 4 6 43 17 6
Casper Wells R 30 RF 170 20 33 7 1 4 14 1 1
Stephen Bruno R 24 2B 344 39 79 17 3 2 30 3 4
David Ross R 38 C 149 14 26 7 0 6 13 0 1
Junior Lake R 25 LF 451 51 104 20 3 10 39 15 7
Adron Chambers L 28 LF 357 37 74 12 2 5 27 8 5
Taylor Teagarden R 31 C 176 18 31 4 0 6 19 0 0
Chris Valaika R 29 2B 424 41 91 18 1 8 41 2 2
Chris Coghlan L 30 LF 430 47 95 22 4 7 37 8 4
Ryan Kalish L 27 LF 303 35 66 12 3 5 28 10 4
Jonathan Herrera B 30 2B 221 27 47 5 2 1 15 3 3
Dan Vogelbach L 22 1B 587 73 129 26 1 16 67 4 6
Jae-Hoon Ha R 24 CF 491 50 107 20 1 6 42 8 5
Edgar Gonzalez R 37 2B 66 7 15 3 0 1 2 2 0
Bijan Rademacher L 24 LF 390 44 85 16 3 7 38 4 6
John Baker L 34 C 186 12 32 5 0 1 12 0 0
Manny Ramirez R 43 LF 86 8 18 2 0 2 7 0 0
Jonathan Mota R 28 1B 293 29 64 11 2 4 26 1 1
Josh Vitters R 25 LF 398 40 86 17 1 10 39 3 2

***

Batters, Rates and Averages

Player PA BB% K% ISO BABIP AVG OBP SLG wOBA
Kris Bryant 557 9.3% 32.9% .244 .344 .256 .339 .500 .364
Anthony Rizzo 651 10.8% 20.0% .224 .299 .269 .358 .493 .367
Starlin Castro 674 5.3% 16.5% .143 .325 .286 .328 .429 .330
Arismendy Alcantara 645 6.2% 26.5% .184 .316 .249 .297 .433 .321
Miguel Montero 529 11.0% 21.2% .127 .289 .240 .333 .367 .304
Javier Baez 650 5.8% 32.6% .214 .302 .233 .283 .447 .319
Dexter Fowler 526 13.9% 22.2% .137 .338 .265 .371 .402 .345
Addison Russell 407 6.6% 24.8% .161 .302 .243 .302 .404 .315
Welington Castillo 417 7.7% 24.2% .147 .304 .246 .317 .393 .316
Albert Almora 576 3.0% 17.0% .118 .301 .261 .285 .379 .289
Tommy La Stella 459 8.7% 10.9% .098 .293 .267 .337 .365 .313
Rafael Lopez 394 8.6% 21.6% .093 .292 .234 .303 .327 .281
Jorge Soler 345 7.8% 22.3% .208 .294 .252 .310 .460 .335
Mike Olt 423 9.7% 32.6% .179 .276 .208 .288 .387 .299
Kyle Schwarber 591 8.3% 25.4% .193 .283 .234 .299 .427 .318
Matt Szczur 553 6.1% 17.9% .080 .301 .250 .301 .330 .283
Christian Villanueva 543 5.3% 26.2% .142 .297 .232 .283 .374 .285
Chris Denorfia 395 7.3% 17.0% .110 .302 .260 .315 .370 .305
Ryan Sweeney 266 7.1% 15.4% .132 .288 .255 .311 .387 .306
Billy McKinney 475 7.4% 21.3% .116 .288 .237 .299 .353 .292
Logan Watkins 516 7.8% 23.1% .099 .297 .231 .297 .330 .280
Casper Wells 170 8.8% 25.9% .138 .279 .217 .296 .355 .291
Stephen Bruno 344 4.4% 24.1% .092 .332 .251 .306 .343 .288
David Ross 149 8.7% 34.2% .188 .260 .195 .265 .383 .277
Junior Lake 451 4.9% 29.0% .132 .331 .246 .287 .378 .295
Adron Chambers 357 8.4% 22.4% .098 .296 .235 .307 .333 .281
Taylor Teagarden 176 8.0% 35.2% .138 .272 .195 .263 .333 .267
Chris Valaika 424 5.0% 20.8% .112 .278 .233 .280 .345 .275
Chris Coghlan 430 8.8% 17.9% .133 .290 .247 .318 .380 .307
Ryan Kalish 303 6.9% 23.8% .119 .302 .237 .292 .356 .287
Jonathan Herrera 221 6.8% 15.4% .060 .282 .239 .298 .299 .259
Dan Vogelbach 587 8.3% 21.8% .144 .289 .244 .308 .388 .306
Jae-Hoon Ha 491 5.3% 22.4% .088 .295 .235 .281 .323 .269
Edgar Gonzalez 66 3.0% 25.8% .094 .304 .234 .258 .328 .266
Bijan Rademacher 390 6.2% 24.4% .120 .301 .237 .290 .357 .285
John Baker 186 9.1% 26.3% .048 .265 .193 .270 .241 .230
Manny Ramirez 86 4.7% 25.6% .097 .276 .220 .256 .317 .257
Jonathan Mota 293 4.1% 24.9% .098 .299 .232 .265 .330 .259
Josh Vitters 398 5.0% 23.9% .132 .284 .231 .277 .363 .282

***

Batters, Assorted Other

Player PA RC/27 OPS+ Def zWAR No.1 Comp
Kris Bryant 557 6.2 127 0 4.3 Evan Longoria
Anthony Rizzo 651 6.4 131 6 4.1 Mo Vaughn
Starlin Castro 674 5.3 106 -4 3.4 Rennie Stennett
Arismendy Alcantara 645 4.8 98 -2 2.4 Mike Young
Miguel Montero 529 4.2 93 -1 2.4 Ed Bailey
Javier Baez 650 4.5 97 -7 2.2 Gary Gaetti
Dexter Fowler 526 5.5 113 -10 2.1 Steve Henderson
Addison Russell 407 4.4 92 2 1.9 Ian Desmond
Welington Castillo 417 4.5 94 -3 1.9 Ronny Paulino
Albert Almora 576 3.8 81 6 1.3 Tony Torcato
Tommy La Stella 459 4.6 93 -2 1.3 Jeff Treadway
Rafael Lopez 394 3.5 73 1 1.0 Alberto Castillo
Jorge Soler 345 5.2 109 -1 1.0 Raul Ibanez
Mike Olt 423 3.8 84 0 0.9 Matt Raleigh
Kyle Schwarber 591 4.5 97 -2 0.9 Paul O’Neill
Matt Szczur 553 3.7 74 2 0.8 Buck Coats
Christian Villanueva 543 3.6 79 2 0.8 Brant Ust
Chris Denorfia 395 4.3 88 3 0.7 Pete Fox
Ryan Sweeney 266 4.4 91 -1 0.7 Terrence Long
Billy McKinney 475 3.8 79 -2 0.5 Trot Nixon
Logan Watkins 516 3.6 73 -2 0.3 Doug Baker
Casper Wells 170 3.6 78 3 0.3 Jeff Guiel
Stephen Bruno 344 3.6 78 -2 0.2 Greg Picart
David Ross 149 3.3 76 -1 0.2 Jim Hegan
Junior Lake 451 3.9 81 2 0.2 Matt Cimo
Adron Chambers 357 3.5 76 4 0.1 Kevin Koslofski
Taylor Teagarden 176 2.9 63 -2 0.0 Dave Duncan
Chris Valaika 424 3.3 71 0 0.0 Keith Johns
Chris Coghlan 430 4.3 91 -5 0.0 Keith Hughes
Ryan Kalish 303 3.8 78 -1 -0.2 Jalal Leach
Jonathan Herrera 221 3.0 65 -1 -0.2 Kevin Castleberry
Dan Vogelbach 587 4.1 90 -2 -0.2 Brant Colamarino
Jae-Hoon Ha 491 3.2 66 -1 -0.3 Donald Morris
Edgar Gonzalez 66 3.3 60 -2 -0.3 Ron Washington
Bijan Rademacher 390 3.4 77 0 -0.4 Dan Ortmeier
John Baker 186 2.2 42 -2 -0.5 Kirt Manwaring
Manny Ramirez 86 2.8 57 -4 -0.7 Brian Jordan
Jonathan Mota 293 3.0 62 0 -1.1 Miguel Quintana
Josh Vitters 398 3.5 74 -8 -1.3 Dave Gibralter

***

Pitchers, Counting Stats

Player T Age G GS IP K BB HR H R ER
Jon Lester L 31 31 31 208.7 187 53 17 191 77 72
Kyle Hendricks R 25 28 28 165.3 115 38 12 164 70 65
Jake Arrieta R 29 29 28 154.3 146 60 15 137 67 63
Jason Hammel R 32 25 24 141.0 117 42 16 135 65 61
Travis Wood L 28 30 30 173.3 137 67 21 170 89 83
C.J. Edwards R 23 19 19 80.3 74 44 5 71 36 34
Tsuyoshi Wada L 34 18 17 104.7 88 32 13 104 50 47
Felix Doubront L 27 27 22 128.3 113 52 14 125 64 60
Eric Jokisch L 25 27 25 150.0 110 48 18 156 78 73
Carlos Villanueva R 31 39 10 96.3 88 30 10 92 45 42
Pedro Strop R 30 64 0 58.3 65 26 4 46 21 20
Neil Ramirez R 26 61 0 54.0 65 26 5 43 20 19
Justin Grimm R 26 75 0 70.0 69 29 5 62 30 28
Hector Rondon R 27 47 0 49.0 46 16 4 44 20 19
Armando Rivero R 27 38 0 51.0 65 24 6 42 21 20
Blake Parker R 30 50 0 50.7 58 18 5 44 21 20
Dallas Beeler R 26 19 19 103.3 57 36 11 112 57 53
Jason Motte R 33 46 0 44.3 44 13 6 40 19 18
Zac Rosscup L 27 44 0 43.3 53 28 4 35 19 18
Edwin Jackson R 31 27 26 146.0 123 55 17 155 82 77
Pierce Johnson R 24 22 21 102.7 97 63 13 98 58 54
Michael Heesch L 25 26 0 48.0 51 27 5 42 22 21
Donn Roach R 25 29 18 113.0 59 51 9 124 64 60
Brian Schlitter R 29 59 0 63.7 38 21 5 67 31 29
Joe Ortiz L 24 31 0 41.0 25 10 4 43 20 19
Jacob Turner R 24 29 23 136.3 91 48 17 152 80 75
Corey Black R 23 25 24 110.3 99 74 15 108 67 63
Frank Batista R 26 53 0 59.3 43 30 7 62 34 32
Jonathan Sanchez L 32 10 9 41.7 35 30 7 45 30 28
Dae-Eun Rhee R 26 23 21 114.7 63 53 14 128 72 67
Carlos Pimentel R 25 29 15 96.7 77 56 14 100 61 57
Lendy Castillo R 26 32 3 53.3 43 40 8 56 37 35

***

Pitchers, Rates and Averages

Player IP TBF K% BB% BABIP ERA FIP ERA- FIP-
Jon Lester 208.7 870 21.5% 6.1% .287 3.11 3.28 81 86
Kyle Hendricks 165.3 698 16.5% 5.4% .290 3.54 3.52 93 92
Jake Arrieta 154.3 660 22.1% 9.1% .282 3.67 3.79 96 99
Jason Hammel 141.0 600 19.5% 7.0% .284 3.89 3.96 102 104
Travis Wood 173.3 757 18.1% 8.9% .284 4.31 4.43 113 116
C.J. Edwards 80.3 356 20.8% 12.4% .288 3.81 3.93 100 103
Tsuyoshi Wada 104.7 450 19.6% 7.1% .291 4.04 4.11 106 107
Felix Doubront 128.3 562 20.1% 9.3% .292 4.21 4.11 110 108
Eric Jokisch 150.0 654 16.8% 7.3% .294 4.38 4.38 115 115
Carlos Villanueva 96.3 411 21.4% 7.3% .293 3.92 3.60 102 94
Pedro Strop 58.3 247 26.3% 10.5% .284 3.09 3.27 81 86
Neil Ramirez 54.0 231 28.1% 11.3% .286 3.17 3.52 83 92
Justin Grimm 70.0 301 22.9% 9.6% .294 3.60 3.46 94 90
Hector Rondon 49.0 207 22.2% 7.7% .286 3.49 3.27 91 86
Armando Rivero 51.0 219 29.7% 11.0% .298 3.53 3.62 92 95
Blake Parker 50.7 214 27.1% 8.4% .297 3.55 3.29 93 86
Dallas Beeler 103.3 458 12.4% 7.9% .290 4.62 4.64 121 121
Jason Motte 44.3 186 23.7% 7.0% .279 3.65 3.89 95 102
Zac Rosscup 43.3 193 27.5% 14.5% .293 3.74 3.86 98 101
Edwin Jackson 146.0 648 19.0% 8.5% .307 4.75 4.11 124 107
Pierce Johnson 102.7 469 20.7% 13.4% .294 4.73 4.97 124 130
Michael Heesch 48.0 213 23.9% 12.7% .291 3.94 4.21 103 110
Donn Roach 113.0 514 11.5% 9.9% .297 4.78 4.73 125 124
Brian Schlitter 63.7 279 13.6% 7.5% .294 4.10 4.03 107 105
Joe Ortiz 41.0 176 14.2% 5.7% .287 4.17 3.95 109 103
Jacob Turner 136.3 609 14.9% 7.9% .301 4.95 4.53 129 119
Corey Black 110.3 513 19.3% 14.4% .293 5.14 5.35 134 140
Frank Batista 59.3 270 15.9% 11.1% .296 4.85 4.87 127 127
Jonathan Sanchez 41.7 200 17.5% 15.0% .304 6.05 6.05 158 158
Dae-Eun Rhee 114.7 525 12.0% 10.1% .294 5.26 5.18 138 135
Carlos Pimentel 96.7 446 17.3% 12.6% .293 5.31 5.35 139 140
Lendy Castillo 53.3 256 16.8% 15.6% .298 5.91 5.98 155 156

***

Pitchers, Assorted Other

Player IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 ERA+ zWAR No. 1 Comp
Jon Lester 208.7 8.06 2.29 0.73 121 4.6 Andy Pettitte
Kyle Hendricks 165.3 6.26 2.07 0.65 107 2.7 Bob Tewksbury
Jake Arrieta 154.3 8.52 3.50 0.87 103 2.3 Kip Wells
Jason Hammel 141.0 7.47 2.68 1.02 97 1.7 Greg Harris
Travis Wood 173.3 7.11 3.48 1.09 87 1.1 Don Collins
C.J. Edwards 80.3 8.29 4.93 0.56 99 1.0 Roger Pavlik
Tsuyoshi Wada 104.7 7.56 2.75 1.12 93 1.0 Blaine Beatty
Felix Doubront 128.3 7.93 3.65 0.98 90 1.0 Jimmy Osting
Eric Jokisch 150.0 6.60 2.88 1.08 86 0.8 Lance Davis
Carlos Villanueva 96.3 8.22 2.80 0.93 96 0.8 Mark Leiter
Pedro Strop 58.3 10.03 4.01 0.62 122 0.7 Dwayne Henry
Neil Ramirez 54.0 10.83 4.33 0.83 119 0.6 Hipolito Pichardo
Justin Grimm 70.0 8.87 3.73 0.64 105 0.4 Sal Urso
Hector Rondon 49.0 8.45 2.94 0.73 108 0.3 Francisco Cordero
Armando Rivero 51.0 11.47 4.24 1.06 107 0.3 Dwayne Henry
Blake Parker 50.7 10.30 3.20 0.89 106 0.3 Jeff Austin
Dallas Beeler 103.3 4.97 3.14 0.96 82 0.3 Preston Larrison
Jason Motte 44.3 8.94 2.64 1.22 103 0.2 Blas Minor
Zac Rosscup 43.3 11.02 5.82 0.83 101 0.1 Ricky Pickett
Edwin Jackson 146.0 7.58 3.39 1.05 79 0.1 Cal Eldred
Pierce Johnson 102.7 8.50 5.52 1.14 80 0.1 Ben Howard
Michael Heesch 48.0 9.56 5.06 0.94 96 0.0 Thomas Hart
Donn Roach 113.0 4.70 4.06 0.72 79 -0.1 Sean White
Brian Schlitter 63.7 5.37 2.97 0.71 92 -0.1 Jim Todd
Joe Ortiz 41.0 5.49 2.20 0.88 90 -0.1 Tim Lavigne
Jacob Turner 136.3 6.01 3.17 1.12 76 -0.3 David Pauley
Corey Black 110.3 8.08 6.04 1.22 73 -0.5 Steve Chitren
Frank Batista 59.3 6.53 4.55 1.06 78 -0.7 Matt Smith
Jonathan Sanchez 41.7 7.55 6.47 1.51 62 -0.7 Charlie Puleo
Dae-Eun Rhee 114.7 4.94 4.16 1.10 72 -0.7 Mike Heathcott
Carlos Pimentel 96.7 7.17 5.21 1.30 71 -0.8 Alonso Beltran
Lendy Castillo 53.3 7.26 6.75 1.35 64 -1.1 Tracy Thorpe

***

Disclaimer: ZiPS projections are computer-based projections of performance. Performances have not been allocated to predicted playing time in the majors — many of the players listed above are unlikely to play in the majors at all in 2014. ZiPS is projecting equivalent production — a .240 ZiPS projection may end up being .280 in AAA or .300 in AA, for example. Whether or not a player will play is one of many non-statistical factors one has to take into account when predicting the future.

Players are listed with their most recent teams unless Dan has made a mistake. This is very possible as a lot of minor-league signings are generally unreported in the offseason.

ZiPS is projecting based on the AL having a 3.93 ERA and the NL having a 3.75 ERA.

Players that are expected to be out due to injury are still projected. More information is always better than less information and a computer isn’t what should be projecting the injury status of, for example, a pitcher with Tommy John surgery.

Regarding ERA+ vs. ERA- (and FIP+ vs. FIP-) and the differences therein: as Patriot notes here, they are not simply mirror images of each other. Writes Patriot: “ERA+ does not tell you that a pitcher’s ERA was X% less or more than the league’s ERA. It tells you that the league’s ERA was X% less or more than the pitcher’s ERA.”

Both hitters and pitchers are ranked by projected zWAR — which is to say, WAR values as calculated by Dan Szymborski, whose surname is spelled with a z. WAR values might differ slightly from those which appear in full release of ZiPS. Finally, Szymborski will advise anyone against — and might karate chop anyone guilty of — merely adding up WAR totals on depth chart to produce projected team WAR.

We hoped you liked reading 2015 ZiPS Projections – Chicago Cubs by Carson Cistulli!

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Carson Cistulli has published a book of aphorisms called Spirited Ejaculations of a New Enthusiast.

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KilroyWasHere
Guest
KilroyWasHere

Fun list of batting comps. Keep everyone around until their peak, and you’ll be looking at Evan Longoria, Mo Vaughn, Ian Desmond, et al… with the pitchers coached by Dave Duncan!

Adam
Guest
Adam

Don’t forget Gary Gaetti!

Los
Guest
Los

Gary Gaetti is 56 years old! Now I feel old.

me
Guest
me

Ship the spaghetti to Gary Gaetti.

Bread N Mustard
Guest
Bread N Mustard

And Paul O’Neil