The Cubs' offense accounts for much of the story between our dramatic shift from 97 win juggernaut to an 83 win disappointment. We went from the best NL offense to the 10th best, from 855 runs scored to 707 runs scored. Amazingly, the difference from our 2008-2009 runs allowed was only one run. We'll want to investigate what to expect from 2010's pitching when we're sure that we have the final pitching roster. For now, we've got a pretty good idea what the 2010 offense will be. It's possible Jim Hendry will find a bargain 2B to add, but it's not likely such an addition will improve the projections. It would also be a good idea to add more OF depth, as I've argued a number ot times. But even if we do add someone like Ryan Church or Scott Hairston or Ryan Spilborghs, and even if they do end up with 400 PAs, spelling all of our OFs, we've got a decent enough picture of the Cubs' offense to start analyzing it.
Below is a chart showing the 2009 NL averages for offense, followed by the 2009 Cubs' actual offense, followed by the 2010 CHONE Cub projections. As we can see, there are some reasons for concern and also some reasons for good expectations. One thing to note is that neither the '09 averages nor the '09 Cubs #s reflect any one players's #s in the way the 2010 CHONE projections do. Replacement players sub in and dilute those actual numbers. So, we shouldn't just compare those numbers straight to the 2010 CHONE projections for the starters. Some of the starters will play over 155 games, but not all of them.
|Position Defensive/Batting Order||2009 NL Averages||2009 Cubs||2010 CHONE Cub Projections||Cubs CHONE R/150 + defense||2009 Cards||2010 CHONE Cards Projections||Cards CHONE R/150 + defense|
|2B||.268/.337/.406||.254/.310/.357||(MF) .260/.329/.397 & (JB) .255/.320/.421||-8||.288/.355/.392||.294/.355/.401||-7|
|8th||.253/.326/.371||.249/.314/.333||(MF) .260/.329/.397 & (JB) .255/.320/.421||-8||.227/.291/.354||.270/.323/.374||0|
CHONE is bearish on Alfonso Soriano but bullish on Geovany Soto. If both players post #s similar to their projections, it will be interesting to see what Lou does with their positions in the lineup. I say that because with those kinds of numbers, you might not just argue for something as easy as flipping them in the lineup, but really going against the grain of normal lineup construction and put Soto's OBP at the top of the lineup. Especially if Soriano is in bad shape, Soto could be really wasted at #7.
What about Marlon Byrd? People have been underwhelmed by him, but when you compare him to the average CF and the average #5 hitter, he doesn't look so bad. No, he's nothing special, but he's a tick above average in both of those places and he's not getting paid anything special. You can also note that we project to get just a little less offense from CF/RF than last year (once you dilute for bench players resting our CF/RF), even as we upgraded the defense significantly. That's a good trade off.
Last year, we got average production from SS and below average production from C, 2B, and LF. Each of 2009's starters at those positions return, although 2009's 2B #s are dragged down by Aaron Miles and he's gone. The Cubs really need two of those four to bounce back to 2008, when each provided above average production at those positions. The good news is that we have two good lottery tickets at 2B and SS talent in the pipeline.
From the lineup perspective, our 1-2 hitters give us above average OBP at the top of the lineup, which is an important improvement over 2009's anemic top of the order. Our 3-4 hitters are solid, although CHONE expects a little regression from last year. Our 5-6 hitters are average, strong on SLG. Our 7-8 hitters are projecting really strong compared to average - and it's that depth of lineup which I believe made the 2008 attack so strong. If we can get that depth back it will be a huge improvement on 2009 when pitchers had three easy outs in a row at the end of the Cubs' lineup.