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2019 Bill James Handbook Cubs projections

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Cubs hitters look good by this system. The pitchers, not so much.

Each year, the baseball handbook that bears the name of the father of sabermetrics, Bill James, has a wealth of baseball information that comes out just at the right time, the beginning of the offseason, a worthy tome to peruse all winter.

In addition to career statistics for every active major-league player, the book has articles by James and others on various baseball topics, including one by James on current trends in the game, including “launch angle” and the newest fad, bullpenning.

The Bill James Handbook also includes the annual Fielding Bible Awards. For the third straight year, Javier Baez is the winner of the “multi-position” award, something Rawlings should consider giving as part of its Gold Glove Awards. The panel that votes on these awards includes Ben Lindbergh, the BIS Video Scouts, former major leaguer Chris Singleton, Hal Richman, Joe Posnanski, John Dewan, Mark Simon, Rob Neyer, Peter Gammons, Travis Sawchik and SABR President Vince Gennaro.

Of Baez, they write:

When slick fielding shortstop Addison Russell went out with injury, then later a suspension, Javy Baez stepped over from his second base position without missing a beat for the Cubs. His defense is elite at both second base and shortstop. He also moves to third base and first base, whenever needed, with tremendous success. He saved five runs at second base, three at shortstop and two more at third base in 2018. He led all infielders (not counting first basemen) with 46 Good Fielding Plays in 2018. He is excellent turning double plays from both second base and shortstop. HIs ability to make tags on throws is legendary.

The entire book, which includes statistical reviews of the 2018 season and analysis of things such as “hits lost and gained to the shift,” is worth reading. But what you really want to see are the Bill James projections for Cubs pitchers and hitters for 2019, so here they are. I’ve added one free agent who ... well, I don’t think the Cubs will sign him, but maybe you do.

2019 Bill James handbook Cubs hitter projections

Player G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS AVG OBP SLG OPS
Player G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS AVG OBP SLG OPS
Albert Almora Jr. 136 386 50 104 21 2 6 41 2 2 .269 .311 .381 .691
Javier Baez 156 547 80 142 29 3 29 92 16 6 .260 .307 .483 .789
Kris Bryant 150 573 102 158 36 3 30 89 5 3 .276 .382 .506 .889
Victor Caratini 73 183 21 49 10 1 4 23 0 0 .268 .340 .399 .739
Willson Contreras 130 461 59 121 27 3 14 64 4 2 .262 .349 .425 .774
Ian Happ 134 412 62 95 20 2 18 58 6 3 .231 .331 .420 .751
Bryce Harper 149 546 104 147 33 2 34 98 11 4 .269 .401 .524 .925
Jason Heyward 123 400 55 108 20 3 9 48 3 1 .270 .344 .403 .746
Anthony Rizzo 158 593 89 169 36 2 29 103 6 3 .285 .390 .499 .889
Addison Russell 124 432 56 106 24 2 11 55 4 1 .245 .317 .387 .703
Kyle Schwarber 137 456 73 108 18 2 28 69 3 2 .237 .351 .469 .820
Ben Zobrist 138 457 67 123 25 3 11 53 3 3 .269 .356 .409 .765

Bill James’ system, which is based on the last couple of years of player performance, the player’s age and other factors, shows Kris Bryant as having a nice bounce-back year from injury, a good year for Kyle Schwarber, a better year for Willson Contreras and even a very good season for Ben Zobrist at age 38.

David Bote, for some reason, even though he played in 74 games and had 210 plate appearances, was not listed in James’ projections.

Here are the pitcher projections:

2019 Bill James handbook Cubs pitcher projections

Player G GS IP H HR BB SO W L SV ERA
Player G GS IP H HR BB SO W L SV ERA
Tyler Chatwood 18 11 66 60 7 48 63 3 4 0 4.84
Steve Cishek 79 0 66 48 5 26 69 5 3 0 3.38
Yu Darvish 24 24 145 119 20 54 169 10 6 0 3.60
Carl Edwards Jr. 64 0 55 33 4 35 72 4 2 0 3.29
Cole Hamels 32 32 209 189 26 73 197 13 10 0 3.95
Kyle Hendricks 31 31 207 188 22 51 170 14 9 0 3.71
Brandon Kintzler 70 0 57 59 5 17 38 3 3 0 4.21
Jon Lester 32 32 181 175 22 59 157 11 9 0 4.02
Mike Montgomery 31 20 117 113 10 43 86 7 6 0 4.12
Brandon Morrow 42 0 38 40 4 11 36 2 2 30 3.94
Jose Quintana 32 32 187 177 21 62 174 12 9 0 3.86
Randy Rosario 47 0 45 46 5 20 32 2 3 0 4.50
Pedro Strop 65 0 61 43 5 23 61 4 2 7 3.31

Well. I’m sure we’d be pretty happy with a season like that from Yu Darvish. A lot of these other projections, I think, have ERA’s that are too high, and I don’t think the James system quite knew what to do with Brandon Morrow, who is projected to have a 30-save season in only 42 appearances with an ERA of almost 4. That doesn’t sound like something that would happen in real life.

I think the James system has almost all the Cubs pitcher ERAs too high, perhaps an overreaction to bad first halves by many Cubs starters.

Let’s hope the Cubs hitters come close to what’s shown here, and the Cubs pitchers do better. That would go a long way toward another 95-win season.

You should get this book — it’s full of numbers and interesting articles, well worth your time to pass the cold winter until baseball begins again.