Baseball Toaster Cub Town
Zipping The Cubs: The Hitters
2007-01-14 10:00
by Phil Bencomo

The Baseball Think Factory has released its annual ZiPS projections. Though the system is far from perfect (after all, it did project an AVG/OBP/SLG line of .287/.332/.412 for Ronny Cedeno in 2006, and we all know how that little experiment turned out), it makes for great fun nonetheless.

Jim Hendry has spent more money this offseason than I'll ever see in my lifetime. But does ZiPS think Alfonso Soriano will live up to his contract? How improved will the 2007 Cub offense really be? Well, enough bantering. Here are the hitters' projections:

                       AVG    OBP    SLG   HR   BB   SO   RC
C   Michael Barrett   .285   .349   .481   15   35   56   67
C   Henry Blanco      .225   .276   .398   8    15   42   25
1B  Derrek Lee        .299   .383   .567   32   65   106  110
1B  Daryle Ward       .257   .315   .442   14   28   53   46
2B  Mark DeRosa       .265   .324   .403   8    32   85   52
2B  Ryan Theriot      .275   .335   .356   2    34   46   49
SS  Ronny Cedeno      .256   .286   .358   7    18   86   45
SS  Cesar Izturis     .272   .320   .356   3    31   49   53
3B  Scott Moore       .248   .319   .425   19   45   137  63
3B  Aramis Ramirez    .296   .355   .559   35   46   63   105
OF  Matt Murton       .299   .361   .446   13   42   65   73
OF  Alfonso Soriano   .265   .324   .498   36   50   150  102
OF  Jacque Jones      .263   .320   .456   24   39   123  74
OF  Angel Pagan       .251   .310   .360   5    32   90   44

Let me first say this: ZiPS hates Soriano. So much for improving on-base skills and an affinity for walks; ZiPS says Soriano will be far worse in both categories than he was in '06 (.351 OBP and 67 BB). And even though Soriano will be leaving pitcher-friendly RFK Stadium, ZiPS still thinks Soriano will record his lowest slugging percentage since 2004.

Because ZiPS does not adjust for playing time, projections for players like Ryan Theriot and Scott Moore become very interesting. Though neither is likely to reach 400 at-bats this season, we can partially satisfy the ever-present question that gnaws without end at the mind of every baseball fan – What if?

In the case of Theriot, ZiPS pegs him for 404 at-bats, the same amount allotted for Mark DeRosa. Comparing the two, we see that they are actually quite comparable. DeRosa has a bit more pop, but Theriot has better contact and on-base skills. The result is expressed in Runs Created: 52 vs. 49 for DeRosa and Theriot, respectively.

Moore is another interesting case. He may not even make the big-league club in '07, but his power potential is quite impressive. In 38 at-bats last season (!small sample-size alert!), Moore posted a .474 SLG%, consistent with his minor-league slugging numbers from the same season (.479 in 463 AB at Double-A West Tenn). ZiPS gives Moore 471 '07 at-bats, during which his power is seen pretty clearly. Give him another season in the minors to work on contact skills, and then the Cubs will have to find a spot for him in the majors.

A note on Matt Murton: Give the red-head playing time! His production, based on RC, is very comparable to that of Jacque Jones, and Murton's on-base skills are to be embraced, not ignored. There is no reason he shouldn't be playing every day. If he develops a bit more power, the kid is an All-Star.

Derrek Lee will have a nice post-injury season, says ZiPS. But I'd go so far as to say that Lee will surpass his projection. A .315 AVG and .400 OBP, plus 45 home runs, is certainly plausible, especially with solid lineup protection from Aramis Ramirez, Soriano and others.

Coming soon to a blog near you: Zipping The Cubs: The Pitchers.

2007-01-14 15:45:00
1.   Sandus
Would it be too much of a stretch to put Theriot or DeRosa at short? The two current shortstops on the roster (despite adequate prediction from ZIPS--which seems totally inaccurate to me anyway) purchase their bats from the Gaping Black Hole Bat Co.

Actually, come to think of it, if he plays well, The Riot might get more AB's than you'd think. If DeRosa platoons with Jones vs. lefties, you give him an opportunity to slip in there.

2007-01-14 22:56:24
2.   Xeifrank
Last year ZIPS had the highest correlation of any public player projection system for pitchers than any other. I believe for hitters, PECOTA was the best. Not that means anything, but it's info nonetheless.
vr, Xei
2007-01-15 05:10:31
3.   Schteeve
3 guys with an OBP above .350. Yikes.
2007-01-15 08:19:14
4.   Doug
I'm guessing that ZiPS projected a .248 batting average for Scott Moore and that the .348 shown in your table is a typo. Otherwise, I'd hate to see the stat line that causes a guy with a .348 BA to post a .319 OBP.
2007-01-15 10:32:11
5.   Phil Bencomo
4 Correct. Sorry for the typo.

2 PECOTA may be good, but it's not free. I don't care enough about projections to, you know, actually pay for them.

2007-01-15 14:36:54
6.   Sandus
I place no stock in a projection system that says Juan Pierre will hit .296, drive in 62 runs, and post an on-base percentage of .341 with the Dodgers.
2007-01-15 16:00:15
7.   Phil Bencomo
6 Well, those percentages aren't too far from what Pierre did with the Cubs last season (.292 AVG, .330 OBP). I wouldn't discount the system based on Pierre alone.

The RBI total, though, is mind-boggling. He's never had more than 55 in a single season.

There is really no accurate way to predict RBI totals, and I didn't include them here because of that. They are just too dependent upon a player's team. I'm much more interested in the things a batter has near-complete control of, like OBP and SLG.

Comment status: comments have been closed. Baseball Toaster is now out of business.