Every year, some 50-plus ballplayers head to Cubs Spring Training in Mesa hoping to make the Opening Day roster. But for probably 21 or 22 of them, as long as they stay healthy, they will be in the major leagues on Opening Day, no matter what happens. That means that some 30 or more players are competing for three jobs or so.
But what if Spring Training really was an audition for every player in Spring Training? What if no one’s job was safe? For one, players would try a lot harder in Spring Training games and these statistics would be quite different. But then I wouldn’t have an article.
Here is the Cubs Opening Day roster based on Spring Training stats. It’s a big subjective, but I made out the lineup based on a combination of performance and playing time. Erick Castillo batted a perfect 1.000 in Spring Training, but he doesn’t get the job because he went 1 for 1. There’s no set cut-off, but you do have to have gotten into more than two or three games to qualify, at least as a hitter.
I also didn’t consider defense, except that I didn’t move players to different positions, except where it makes sense in the outfield.
By the way, I stole this idea from AZ Snake Pit.
C—Willson Contreras .308/.357/.692 with 4 HR and 8 RBI in 13 games.
1B—Anthony Rizzo .354/.411/.604 with 3 HR and 10 RBI in 20 games.
2B—David Bote .269/.339/.442 with one HR and 8 RBI in 24 games.
3B—Kris Bryant .366/.480/.537 with one HR and 3 RBI in 18 games.
SS—Mike Freeman .407/.458/.611 with 2 HR and 10 RBI in 22 games.
LF—Kyle Schwarber .340/.419/.660 with 4 HR and 6 RBI in 21 games.
CF—Ian Happ .321/.400/.811 with 7 HR and 12 RBI in 19 games.
RF—Peter Bourjos .326/.362/.372 with 0 HR and 8 RBI in 18 games.
C—Victor Caratini .244/.404/.366 with 1 HR and 5 RBI in 20 games.
INF—Ryan Court .360/.458/.660 with 4 HR and 7 RBI in 29 games.
INF—Addison Russell .326/.367/.488 with 2 HR and 10 RBI in 18 games.
OF—Mark Zagunis .316/.422/.474 with 1 HR and 5 RBI in 23 games.
—So the Cubs get a completely new double-play combination with Bote and Freeman taking over for Russell and Javier Baez. Russell heads to the bench and Baez heads to Iowa.
The one real job up for grabs for the Cubs Opening Day hitters was the backup catcher and Caratini wins it again under this formula.
Peter Bourjos, rather than getting released, wins the starting right-field job. I did move Bourjos from center to right because he was the starting RF for the Phillies in 2016. I wasn’t willing to move Zagunis from left to right, so he wins the backup outfield job.
Ben Zobrist, Jason Heyward and Albert Almora Jr. are all looking for work. Tommy La Stella will have plenty of time to look for a girlfriend.
SP—Kyle Hendricks 3-0 with a 2.37 ERA in 5 starts.
SP—Yu Darvish 3-0 with a 2.79 ERA in 5 starts.
SP—Tyler Chatwood 4-0 with a 2.91 ERA in 6 starts.
SP—Jose Quintana 1-0 with a 2.45 ERA in 5 starts.
SP—Jon Lester 3-1 with a 2.81 ERA in 5 starts.
—Umm. The Cubs starting rotation had a really good spring. You can’t say they didn’t earn their rotation spots, even if they didn’t have to.
RP—Steve Cishek 0-0 with 0 saves and a 1.74 ERA in 10 appearances.
RP—Kyle Ryan 0-1 with 2 saves and a 1.80 ERA in 10 appearances.
RP—Justin Hancock 1-1 with 3 saves and a 3.52 ERA in 7 appearances.
RP—Anthony Bass 0-0 with a 1.35 ERA in 6 appearances.
RP—Randy Rosario 1-1 with a 3.86 ERA in 8 appearances.
RP—Oscar De La Cruz 0-0 with a 0.00 ERA and 2 saves in 4 appearances.
RP—Michael Roth 0-0 with a 1.80 ERA in 4 appearances (one start).
RP—Carl Edwards Jr. 0-1 with a 4.00 ERA in 9 appearances.
—Hmm. There’s Cishek. Edwards barely makes the Opening Day roster. Then it’s a bunch of surprises, although everyone would be pretty happy about De La Cruz staying healthy and pitching well enough to play on Opening Day.
So to sum up, the Cubs starting rotation would remain unchanged, although Hendricks gets the Opening Day start. The Cubs lineup against the Marlins tomorrow could look like this.
- Happ CF
- Freeman SS
- Bryant 3B
- Rizzo 1B
- Schwarber LF
- Contreras C
- Bote 2B
- Bourjos RF
- Hendricks SP
Now let’s just forget about Spring Training stats and “play ball!”