Who's the NL Central Favorite as of Today?

The debate at BCB right now is whether the Cubs have a chance at the NL Central, or should fold on 2010 and begin the rebuild.  To argue that we should fold and rebuild means that you assume we don't have a shot at 2010.  Rather than just trying to eyeball the divisions, I wanted to take a systematic look based on statistical projections.  Bill James' projections aren't my favorite, but fangraphs have them for everyone to see.  So, in the chart below, I have the hitters scored by runs created per 27 outs and the pitchers scored by ERA.  If that stat's a little foreign to you, go to to see more traditional stats for each of these players projected.

Three of the players in the chart below are not projected by Bill James and I substituted CHONE projections - Manzella, Freese, and Mather.

And you certainly don't have to tell me that this is not the best way to do this, nor very precise, etc.  If this fanpost encourages someone to do it better, I'll be as glad as anyone.  I'd also be interested in seeing the results by CHONE, etc.

Player Names Position CHC STL MIL HOU CIN
Soto/Molina/Zaun/Quintero/Hernandez C 6.05 4.49 4.19 3.40 4.51
Lee/Pujols/Fielder/Berkman/Votto 1B 7.05 10.77 7.96 7.46 8.10
Fontenot/Lugo/Weeks/Matsui/Phillips 2B 5.04 4.10 5.44 4.22 4.85
Theriot/Ryan/Escobar/Manzella/Janish SS 4.44 3.92 4.49 3.51 3.01
Ramirez/Freese/McGehee/Feliz/Rolen 3B 6.66 5.06 5.01 4.13 5.48
Soriano/Schumaker/Braun/Lee/Balentien LF 5.33 5.04 8.22 6.34 4.69
Colvin/Rasmus/Gomez/Bourn/Taveras CF 4.47 4.76 3.91 4.57 3.64
Fukudome/Ludwick/Hart/Pence/Bruce RF 5.37 5.67 5.33 6.29 6.33
Fuld/Mather/Gerut/Blum/Dickerson 4OF 4.18 4.88 4.48 3.56 5.64
Baker/Greene/Gamel/Keppinger/Rosales Util 5.58 4.09 5.81 4.98 4.76
Average RC27 5.42 5.28 5.48 4.85 5.10
Zambrano/Wainwright/Gallardo/Oswalt/Harang SP 3.6 3.64 3.53 3.6 4.18
Lilly/Carpenter/Wolf/Rodriguez/Volquez SP 3.76 2.95 3.87 4.12 4
Dempster/Lohse/Suppan/Norris/Arroyo SP 3.83 4.35 5.09 5.05 4.11
Wells/Penny/Parra/Paulino/Bailey SP 4.16 4.01 4.59 5.19 4.87
Gorzelanny/Boggs/Bush/Moehler/Cueto SP 4.11 5.4 4.29 5.08 4.4
Average ERA 3.89 4.07 4.27 4.61 4.31
Marmol/Franklin/Hoffman/Lyon/Cordero CL 3.45 4.13 2.43 3.73 3.15
Guzman/Motte/Hawkins/Lindstrom/Rhodes SU 4.03 3.54 3.29 4.76 2.89
Grabow/Reyes/Villanueva/Fulchino/Herrera SU 4 3.91 4.09 4.94 3.54
Marshall/Miller/Coffey/Arias/Masset RP 4.06 3.72 4.45 4.64 4.82
Average ERA 3.89 3.83 3.57 4.52 3.6


Now, a little more qualification - yes, I'm missing a lot of depth here.  There's no way these teams all use just 5 starters, etc.  I've gone and included two bench players, which may be questionable to you, too, but it did help clarify situations where I wasn't sure who'd really be playing a position all year long (e.g. Baker/Fontenot or McGeHee/Gamel).  I'm also not accounting for defense which stinks.  Please someone do this better!

Oh, and, yeah, projections are just projections.  But since it's winter and they aren't playing the games right now (and, yes, Virgina, they will play the games), looking at projections gives us a way to think about where things are from a more objective base.  I certainly would adjust some of these projections, and hope there's good debate below about how to adjust the projections.

Right now, the Brewers have the best offense and the Cubs have the best rotation.  The Cubs' offense and rotation surpass the Cards while their bullpens look fairly equivelant.  However, if you add Holliday to the Cards their offense jumps up a good bit to 5.57 average RC27.  Holliday is a big upgrade.

For the Cubs, add Marlon Byrd in place of Tyler Colvin and the Cubs go up to 5.49.  Byrd's no Holliday.  But, for what it's worth, Bill James does project him to add a lot more offensively than Mike Cameron.  Let me know what other players you want me to insert and adjust these ratings with and I'll give it a try.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of SB Nation or Al Yellon, managing editor (unless it's a FanPost posted by Al). FanPost opinions are valued expressions of opinion by passionate and knowledgeable baseball fans.

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