Cubs 2007 Season In Review

Opening Day is still more than a week off, but the prognostication season is well under way. Sports Illustrated’s annual preview was mentioned here yesterday, but The Hardball Times and Baseball Prospectus are also out with their player-by-player predictions, as is Baseball Think Factory’s Dan Szymborski, father of the ZIPS Projections.

THT, BP (with their PECOTA Projections) and Szymborski each employs a unique methodology, which I won’t even try to summarize or explain. Regardless, I thought it would be worthwhile to stack all three sets of Cub player predictions side by side, focusing on the eight likely starting position players plus Cliff Floyd, the five starting pitchers including Wade Miller, and the closer, Ryan Dempster.

The THT numbers come from their most excellent season preview book featuring the work of one Rob G.; the Baseball Prospectus numbers come from BP 2007; and I pulled the ZIPS Projections from the Baseball Think Factory site. (Thanks again, Dan, for your permission to use them here.)

Also, to round out the field, I consulted my old friend, Phil, a very smart, very dedicated Cub fan who can calculate slugging percentages in his head and who, coincidentally, turned me on to The Cub Reporter what seems like a very long time ago. Phil employed no simulation models or complicated algorithms in coming up with his picks, but rather, a time-honored technique called educated guesswork that took about 15 minutes.

Without further ado, here are the picks. BTF stands for Szymborski’s projections at Baseball Think Factory, BP stands for Baseball Prospectus’ PECOTA numbers, THT stands for The Hardball Times 2007 Baseball Preview, and MOFP signifies picks from My Old Friend Phil.

Michael Barrett

BTF

BP

THT

MOFP

AVG.

.285

.293

.281

.294

HR

15

15

17

16

RBI

63

64

71

57

Pretty even across the board. Obviously, these number will be way off after Lou reads Sports Illustrated and immediately follows their suggestion to bat Barrett lead off.

Derrek Lee

BTF

BP

THT

MOFP

AVG.

.299

.288

.290

.290

HR

32

22

24

38

RBI

97

68

75

105

Mark DeRosa

BTF

BP

THT

MOFP

AVG.

.265

.282

.261

.270

HR

8

11

11

8

RBI

49

50

56

45

Cesar Izturis

BTF

BP

THT

MOFP

AVG.

.272

.278

.274

.260

HR

3

2

2

1

RBI

43

29

34

30

A-Ram

BTF

BP

THT

MOFP

AVG.

.296

.299

.299

.300

HR

35

35

34

35

RBI

110

108

110

110

The numbers from BP and THT seem to reflect the fact that Lee is coming back from a significant injury. The Ramirez numbers are so close it’s spooky. I guess that’s what consistently excellent productivity will do for you.

Matt Murton

BTF

BP

THT

MOFP

AVG.

.299

.303

.283

.300

HR

13

15

14

16

RBI

61

62

67

75

Cliff Floyd

BTF

BP

THT

MOFP

AVG.

.261

.263

.270

.275

HR

18

17

20

12

RBI

61

59

70

50

The Fons

BTF

BP

THT

MOFP

AVG.

.265

.285

.272

.300

HR

36

41

37

42

RBI

86

115

111

90

SB

27

32

33

30

Jacque Jones

BTF

BP

THT

MOFP

AVG.

.263

.281

.277

.275

HR

24

17

24

25

RBI

77

60

87

80

My Old Friend Phil is a little hotter on Murton than the others. Floyd’s numbers are bound to be way off from these projections, given his ongoing recovery from the foot problems. (BP actually worked up Floyd’s numbers before he even signed with the Cubs.)

The spread in Soriano’s numbers is noteworthy. Not sure if BP and THT consider Soriano’s likely spot in the batting order as part of their calculations, but Szymborski’s numbers seem to and I know My Old Friend Phil’s do...because he told me they do. Also interesting that no one foresees a repeat of Alfonso’s 40-40 season with the Nationals.

Lots of variance in Jones’s numbers, too, with BP’s low home run and RBI figures standing out.

On to the key pitchers. (Aside: no editorial comment implied by the fact that Zambrano's stat box is larger than anybody else. I just don't know how to deal with HTML tables.)

 

Zambrano

BTF

BP

THT

MOFP

W

14

13

14

17

L

8

11

7

8

ERA

3.46

3.66

2.77

3.33

Ted Lilly

BTF

BP

THT

MOFP

W

12

10

7

13

L

12

10

8

13

ERA

4.26

4.19

4.60

4.42

Jason Marquis

BTF

BP

THT

MOFP

W

11

7

8

13

L

15

10

10

14

ERA

4.95

5.14

4.68

4.60

Rich Hill

BTF

BP

THT

MOFP

W

12

9

8

12

L

8

10

6

12

ERA

3.65

4.28

3.94

4.20

Wade Miller

BTF

BP

THT

MOFP

W

3

5

2

4

L

5

8

3

8

ERA

4.97

5.15

4.69

5.30

Dempster

BTF

BP

THT

MOFP

W

5

3

4

2

L

4

4

4

4

ERA

4.09

4.14

4.22

4.00

Saves

n/a

19

18

32

 

Three of the four Zambrano projections look good; BP’s, not so much. This is reflected in their comments about Z in BP 2007, in which they suggest an increased walk rate and lower groundball/flyball ratio last season might be early signs of wear.

As for Lilly, apparently, baseball computers, like many of us, see him as a .500 pitcher. They also appear to have limited confidence in Larry Rothschild’s ability to work black magic with Marquis. Hill’s BTF projection (3.65 ERA) would be nice if works out that way, Miller better hope the computers and My Old Friend Phil were all drunk when they worked up his totals. And everyone seems to have the same picture of Ryan Dempster. And it’s not very pretty.

Teamwise, the THT Web site has the Cubs pegged for an 84-78 record and a second place finish, one game behind the Cardinals; the Baseball Prospectus Web site is not yet out with their NL Central team picks; and my Old Friend Phil says the Cubs’ “solid hitting (though OBP-deprived) plus mediocre pitching will leave them at 81-81,” with a reasonable possibility, however, that they could win up to 85 games and contend for the division.

That sounds like a pretty reasonable prognostication to me.

 

 

 

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Comments

I tend to agree with much of those numbers surprisingly. Weak pitching, but pretty good offense = about .500 season.

It looks like to me that we will need 3-4 career years or at least guys playing way over realistic expectations to guarantee a playoff spot IMO.

What about me?

Did SI pick the Angels vs Dodgers for the World Series?

If so, the jinx is acting up promptly as Chone Figgins broke bones in his right long and index fingers and is expected out 5-6 weeks. Apparently Raphael Furcal has a badly sprained ankle from a wednesday collision and should miss a few weeks (DLee, it's not nice to snicker).

81-81 sounds good to me. I kinda know your old friend Phil, and doubt very much that he was drunk when making his predictions. Maybe this is the year? When your old friend Phil went to his first ball game at Wrigley, the Cubs beat the Cards. So he and the Cubs go way back. Looking forward to opening day. Let's go CUBS!!!!

Updated standings from baseball prosectus:

Central W L RS RA AVG OBP SLG
Chicago Cubs 85 77 829 791 .275 .337 .460
Milwaukee Brewers 85 77 788 748 .266 .335 .445
St. Louis Cardinals 81 81 731 734 .260 .331 .417
Houston Astros 80 82 769 781 .260 .334 .435
Pittsburgh Pirates 76 86 752 805 .270 .331 .434
Cincinnati Reds 71 91 726 827 .259 .329 .417

From the BP site:

Central W L RS RA AVG OBP SLG
Chicago Cubs 85 77 829 791 .275 .337 .460
Milwaukee Brewers 85 77 788 748 .266 .335 .445
St. Louis Cardinals 81 81 731 734 .260 .331 .417
Houston Astros 80 82 769 781 .260 .334 .435
Pittsburgh Pirates 76 86 752 805 .270 .331 .434
Cincinnati Reds 71 91 726 827 .259 .329 .417

standings from bp projection

Central W L
Chicago Cubs 85 77 .
Milwaukee Brewers 85 77 .
St. Louis Cardinals 81 81
Houston Astros 80 82
Pittsburgh Pirates 76 86 .
Cincinnati Reds 71 91

I used the THT Pythagorean Formula for projecting record for the Cubs in 2007 using BP player projections (with some modification--if I didn't think players would get the ABs projected, I proected their output downward)---I came up with 92 wins. Pitching was better than average (4.44 r/g) and offense was quite good (5.3-5.4 r/g). I think that these numbers are similar to the Mets on the high end and the Dodgers on the low end, with 97 and 88 wins respectively. Hope my projections are accurate.

Healthy, the Cubs will win 90 games, unless they get a lot more low side performances than high side peformances. But with the entire roster, we're only counting on performance increases from Izturis, Dempster and Marquis- and we're not expecting even new levels, just return to previous levels, so it's not a stretch for any of them.

i predict the cubs with 116 wins based on the 2001 seattle mariners theorem.

my backup prediction is 95 wins using the 2006 detroit tigers matrix.

81 wins, 3rd place finish. The starting pitching is so-so, the bullpen not as strong as everybody thinks, and the defense subpar in too many places.

A meta-question of sorts here: Is there any way you guys could clean up this post? It appears riddled with HTML on my computer, making it really hard to read. The info looks great, though.

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